Monday, July 11, 2005

Academia and the Perils of Blogging 

I just read this post over at Kevin's blog. Go read it. (My comment to this post is here.) Oh yeah, and read this over at the Chronicle website as well.

I'll wait.

Okay. As some of you (probably a smaller and smaller number every day) may remember, I used to blog over at the History News Network a couple of years ago. (Back in those days, 3,000 visitors a day got you in the top 50 or so blogs in traffic but I digress.)

Anyway, I always swore I'd blog about this once I got tenure and promotion, so I will do so now. While it didn't cause any major problems, I believe that I have suffered at least some consequences from blogging without using a pseudonym. It was back in the spring of 2003 that I received a phone call from my chair asking me to come down to his office. When I arrived he shut the door and handed me a rather strangely-worded letter written directly to the president of my institution accusing me of antisemitism on my blog with regard to Richard Perle. (I believe it was this post that really agitated this crackpot.)

You have to remember that back in those days, wacko conservatives were accusing people of antisemitism for doing anything and this was your standard sort of letter like that. They wanted antiwar people to just shut up -- especially on the internet. This was the period of Insty's "objectively pro-Saddam" bullshit and all that.

My chair told me that the dean had requested that he make me stop blogging. My chair had flatly refused, saying this was America and there was this thing called academic freedom and freedom of speech. He told the dean he had read my blog, this was a false charge and there was nothing to to it.

At this point the dean told my chair that I had to remove my institutional affiliation from the blog page, which I did ultimately do. The folks at HNN were quite outraged by this and thought it was petty and ridiculous. This all happened just a few months before I was to go up for tenure and promotion and it did spook me quite a bit. Fortunately, it came out okay, I was promoted and tenured the next year and nothing was ever said about this incident again.

But, anyway, I guess my main point in all of this is to say that if you are on the job market in any way, you probably shouldn't be blogging using your real name, use a pseudonym. It's easy to do and that's what you should do.

I have to admit that I've applied for a select few jobs the last few years since I started blogging and haven't gotten a call one since that point. Before my HNN blog, I usually would get some sort of interview or phonecall but I don't anymore.

Of course, this all may just be a coincidence. It may be that I'm not a good candidate or, knowing the tacky nature of academia, departments generally would prefer to hire someone they can pay $28,000 per year at the assistant professor level than someone who may actually know what the hell they're doing.

However, I do have my suspicions that the blogging thing has cost me in job searches over the last few years. Heck, if you google search my name, my defunct blog at HNN still comes up as the top link.

Am I paranoid? Delusional? Or am I correct?

What do you think?

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