June 2nd, 2003

Fishy Circumstances

Academics, Weblogs, and Status

The Chronicle for Higher Education has posted an article on academics who blog. It's a decent survey of the academic weblog scene, at least at its more sophisticated levels. Unsurprisingly, the article has received good coverage by blogging academics, a prominent selection of whom are quoted in the article. The Invisible Adjunct, for example, is quoted as saying "An undergraduate and an adjunct can speak to someone with tenure on a more or less equal footing."

That's true. Matthew Yglesias is a prime example of an undergraduate whose writings are taken seriously by tenured academic bloggers. Indeed, he is the example used in the article. Oxblog is similarly a good example of a graduate student blog. All of this, however, reinforces the fact that, even online, academics are conscious of academic rank. It was necessary for the Chronicle to point out the apparent levelling of ground among academic ranks in the world of weblogs, even while itself focusing on professorial weblogs in its list at the end of the article. The article finishes with a list of "Blogs of Note." I observe that Matthew Yglesias' did not make the list. Oxblog did, but it is notable in being the only graduate-student authored weblog on the list.

The article also points to two lists of maintained, all-discipline lists of academics: Rhetorica's Professors who Blog and Henry Farrell's. Henry Farrell's stated policy is to include bloggers who are in pursuit of a PhD or equivalent degree, or hold a position at a third-level institution. In other words, graduate students are included in this list. "Professors who Blog," however, by the very nature of its title, is intended to list blogging professors, the senior members of the profession - or, if you're being picky - instructors with contracts to teach at a university of its equivalent. The title is misleading, since at least several of the blogs linked to in the list are authored by people who are not professors, although some have at least taught at a university of its equivalent. Caveat Lector (past graduate school experience; returning to graduate school this fall) and Colin Brayton (current graduate student) are both listed.

I'm not bothered one way or another by the inconsistancies in "Professors who Blog." That's not my point. My point is that, despite the blogging principle that articulateness and knowledge level all playing fields, in academia at least, rank still matters. Tenured, tenure-stream, adjunct, graduate student, undergraduate. It's still an integral part of academic identity.

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Fishy Circumstances

The Neighborhood

The neighbors were watering the sidwalk again yestserday. They do this at least once a week when it's warm out. The water's source, presumably a hose, is stuck out of the second-story window and projected with reasonable force upward at a 45 degree angle, over their wild-growing grass and onto the sidewalk in front of it. Sometimes they'll do this in the middle of the night. It's as if they have the theory of watering the lawn down, but not the practice.

The local supermarket has been remodeled, and much to its advantage. The selection, quality, and sense of arrangement of food by category are all much improved. The canned vegetables are now by the fresh vegetables. The exotic canned vegetables and sauces have been integrated with the more usual ones, so I don't need to look in three or four places for some of the products. They (at least for now) are stocking more products I'm interested in buying - such as my favorite tea, Twinings Lemon-Ginger. Strikingly, the main centerpiece aisle is now devoted almost entirely to junk food.

Meanwhile, the weather has been lovely. We passed two households painting fences yesterday. The flowering trees are all in bloom, and all kinds of colors and stripes of tulips are just finishing the end of their prime. It's lovely out.