The Corporate Masters have posted a new Ask a ScienceBlogger question:
The question (submitted by a reader) is this: There are many, many academic bloggers out there feverishly blogging about their areas of interest. Still, there are many, many more academics who don’t. So, why do you blog and how does blogging help with your research?
Taking these in the opposite order, how does blogging help with my research? The answer is simple: it doesn’t. Not one bit.
I am an experimental physicist, so my research is done in the lab, not
in my office (well, data analysis, when I have data to analyze, is
done in my office, but that’s a small fraction of my research time).
Talking to other people via the Internet doesn’t really do any good,
unless it’s in order to get the answers to narrow technical questions,
and that’s not scintillating blog fodder. To put it bluntly, if I
spent the time I spend blogging working in the lab, I’d get more done
than I do.
So, why do I blog? If blogging doesn’t help my research, why do I do it?
I blog because it amuses me to do so. It’s a hobby, not a part of my
job. Believe it or not– and contrary to a lot of the advice new
faculty receive– being an academic is not and should not be an
all-consuming avocation. We are allowed to have lives outside the
classroom and research lab, though deans and department chairs try to
downplay that fact.
Not every thing in an academic’s life has to be part of their research
program. The idea that there’s something wrong with people who have
outside interests is one of the most toxic ideas in all of academia,
and probably plays a role in driving some good people out of science.
The time that I spend blogging is not time that would be spent on
research if I didn’t have the blog. It’s time taken away from other
outside interests– reading fiction, watching tv, various domestic
chores. The blog doesn’t help my research, but it doesn’t hurt,
Now, it’s not true that the blog doesn’t do anything to help me in my
job– it’s actually been fairly helpful in my teaching, by allowing me
to test-drive some explanations, and pick up suggestions from readers.
And I’ve made a few tentative efforts to use it the platform provided
by blogging to do some good for the profession and science in general,
which I may expand in the future. The money doesn’t hurt, either.
But at bottom, I maintain this blog because it amuses me to do so. And
the minute it starts to be more annoying than amusing, I’ll stop.