May 30, 2003

· Internet

The Chronicle article on academic bloggers has just been published. I’m quoted in it a couple of times, the first time saying “One person’s ‘distributed journalism’ is another person’s echo chamber,” and the second time saying that this blog is not the main focus of my career. (Although I have considered listing my posts as publications on my vita. I mean, the ones with comments are practically peer-reviewed.)

I don’t think I was explicitly disagreeing with Julian Sanchez when I made the comment about echo chambers. I suppose my intuition was that the early excitment about the revolutionary potential of blogging has calmed down a bit as the practice has grown and differentiated. While we have good examples the “death by a thousand cuts” approach to fact checking, of the sort Julian discusses, there’s plenty of ranting as well. It’s a tricky empirical question.

The article is well worth reading, though. Many of the usual suspects have interesting things to say, as you might expect. I hope Jacob Levy takes it the right way when I say that this sequence of quotes from the article made me smile:

Jacob T. Levy … explained his reluctance to commit to blogging: “I’m worried about public-intellectualitis … At least so far, there are no financial returns to blogging. Much bad public-intellectualism seems to come about because of the temptation to (to put it bluntly) sell out.” (Mr. Levy subsequently abandoned his solo blog, and is now one of the authors of the Volokh Conspiracy.) …

For some people, however, blogging itself is a direct form of career development … Mr. Levy and Mr. Drezner have each recently begun to write columns for The New Republic’s Web site because an editor there noticed and admired their blogs.

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I am Associate Professor of Sociology at Duke University. I’m affiliated with the Kenan Institute for Ethics, the Markets and Management Studies program, and the Duke Network Analysis Center.



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