Sciencewomen

i-9dc84d4d9156dccb30d5f62466b4219a-swblocks.jpgYou’ve got a blog. You’ve developed a comfortable voice. Your writing has found a receptive audience, with thoughtful and supportive commenters. Things are going well.

Then, WHAM! You defend your thesis. Or you get a new job. You have a baby. Or get a divorce. You move to a new continent. Your blog gets assimilated by a Borg. Or you decide to come out of the pseudonymous closet.

Suddenly, you find you’ve lost some confidence in your writing. Maybe your usual stream of topics has been cut off. Maybe you worry about the appropriateness of your blogging in your new professional capacity.Maybe all your attention has been shifted to a topic that you aren’t sure would interest your readers. Maybe your audience is suddenly intimidatingly large or less supportive than before.

What do you do? You can’t go back to the way things were. Your life or your blog has crossed a threshold, and now you are having “relationship issues” with it. How do you get your blog, your life, and your career to play nice with each other again? How do you make your blog work for you as you shape your professional and personal identity?

Does any of this sound familiar to some of you? Have you been in a scenario like something above? Are you worried about an upcoming transition? If so, we’d like to hear from you.

KH and I are convening a session on transitions at the upcoming ScienceOnline09 conference. Our goal is to put together a session with ideas for changing your online persona as your real life changes and making blogging fit in as you craft your professional identity. We’re hoping to tap some conference attendees to share their experiences, but we’d also really like your thoughts, opinions, ideas, and comments as we prepare for the session. So consider this an open thread to tell us how you’ve handled bloggy transitions, share your great ideas, ask questions, etc. If you are more comfortable sharing your comments privately, please email me (science dot woman (at) gmail) or KH (propterdoc (at) gmail). We promise to completely respect your anonymity.

Comments

  1. #1 Jokerine
    December 3, 2008

    What an interesting topic. I am going through more or less what you are describing. I chose become polyblogging. I have extricated the science topic to its own, professional-yet-personal blog and am going pretty open on my private blog, which isn’t really private.

    Oh, and I am goin through severe angst about what is appropriate, what will my readers support etc.

  2. #2 Isis the Scientist
    December 3, 2008

    Does any of this sounds familiar? Ha ha ha ha ha…

  3. #3 Professor in Training
    December 3, 2008

    I started my blog knowing that I would be transitioning from one career stage to another so the changes that have occurred have just provided more fodder for posts – it’s also been a great outlet as well as a great place to get advice and suggestions from other bloggers who have been in this position before. That being said though, I think the negative emotional toll from the change in job and location has impacted on the tone of my blog … but I’m sure I’ll return to being overly-sarcastic and re-adopting my holier-than-thou approach very soon :)

    I can’t make it to the conference, but email me if you want any more of my drivel.

  4. #4 Alex
    December 3, 2008

    Yeah, I went through this a few years back. I had a blog that was written with that sortof ironic profane voice that you’ve seen in a billion blogs. It was full of Top Ten lists and other things that mid-20s bloggers always do.

    You know how at a certain point, if you’re still in a band, it starts to get a little bit sad? There’s always one mid-30s guy in a band – he plays drums or keyboard – trying to hang with the younger kids, and you’re sorta like dude, you got two kids at home. I felt the same way about that blog.

    I ended up joining Yelp and channeling my writing energy into reviews there; it worked out for me.

  5. #5 Bimalendu
    December 3, 2008

    I am interested in your research. Its true, our online persona is related to our real life.

    In my case, as I started my blog (lifesmantra.blogspot.com). I was feeling a bit low that time. But, later on I gained control on my life and moved on.

    However, I really dont know how and why it happened. You can take a couple of posts from my blog if it can help you out.

  6. #6 scicurious
    December 3, 2008

    Heh. Gee, I think I know a little bit of what that’s like. It’s definitely hard to maintain a blog when all the stress of crazy life changes are taking place in the real world. And moving to a big blog network has been a big change for me. I’ve begun to be much more nervous about what I post, much more worried about how it will go over. And it becomes harder, as I get closer to graduation and more immersed in my research, to come up with topics that I know will work for me as well as for a wider audience. We shall discuss. I will definitely be at your panel (if it doesn’t overlap with mine).

  7. #7 goat mama
    December 3, 2008

    Wow, very interesting topic. Although I’m not a blogger, I think its extremely relevant to tackle the topic of transitions in our personal and professional lives. Often, the thought of these transitions is much more scary than their reality, so sharing stories may help to ease our ‘transition anxiety’. Looking forward to reading more about this…

  8. #8 Alice
    December 3, 2008

    OMG, let me tell you. Although I will in fact tell you, in this very session. ;-)

  9. #9 Jennie
    December 4, 2008

    I started my blog to help me finish writing my dissertation and the blog community was a great resource while I did that and while I worked from home away from dissertation state. Now that I’m back in my home (warm) state and have a consulting job I feel less connected to the blog world and while I still read and keep track of my blog friends I’m finding less of an urge to write myself.

  10. #10 Albatross
    December 6, 2008

    I blogged for 3 years about grad school, hobbies and life in general when I started having ‘issues’ with my blog. My old content and having shared my address with too many family/friends/colleagues constrained what I was able to write about. This happened to occur as I started looking for postdoc positions.
    I moved to a new blog, stopped posting identifying pictures of myself and now feel more comfortable sharing my experiences in the blog community. I am hoping the recent transition will allow me to keep blogging through my professional transitions from here on out!

  11. #11 Comrade PhysioProf
    December 9, 2008

    I’m sure I’ll return to being overly-sarcastic and re-adopting my holier-than-thou approach very soon :)

    It’s about fucking time!

  12. #12 Dan
    December 14, 2008

    Recently published on: http://www.beforeyoutakethatpill.com

    Historically, information sources provided to American citizens were limited due to the few methods available to the public, such as radio, TV, or news print. And also this information was subject to being filtered and, in some cases, delayed. This occurred for a number of reasons, which included political ones.
    Now, and with arguably great elation, there is the internet, which can be rather beneficial for the average citizen.
    Soon after the advent of the internet well over a decade ago, web logs were created, that are now termed ‘blogs’. At that time the blogs were referred to as personal journals or diaries visible on line. As time passed, blogs became a media medium, and blog communities evolved into addressing topics that often were not often addressed in mainstream media, as they crossed previously existing political and social lines. In addition, blogs provide immediate contributions by others, the readers of the posts of the blog authors, instead of the cumbersomeness of opinion and editorial pieces historically and not always presented in such media forms as newspapers or magazines.
    The authors of blogs vary as far as their backgrounds and intent of what they choose to address on their blogs exactly, just as with other media forms. Some are employed by the very media sources that existed before them. Furthermore, they are not exonerated from the legalities of what is written, such as cases of libel. While we can presume that bloggers like to write, they may not be quality writers, yet several are in fact journalists, as well as doctors and lawyers, for example. But to write is to think, which I believe is a good quality one should have. Regardless, a type of Socratic learning seems to be occurring due to the advent of blogs.
    Yet presently, blogs have become quite a driving force for those with objectives and issues often opposed by others, and therefore have become a serious threat to others. These others may be politicians, our government, or corporations- all of which have been known to monitor the content of certain blogs of concern to them for their potential to negatively affect their image or their activities previously undisclosed. This is why blogs, on occasion, have become a media medium for whistleblowers, which will be addressed further in a moment.
    While one disadvantage of blogs is the potential lack of reliability, blogs however do allow in addition to the comments of its readers the posting of authentic internal or confidential documents that typically are not created to be viewed by the public, yet are acquired by certain bloggers. For example, blogger Dr. Peter Rost, a whistleblower himself, not long ago posted a newsletter published by pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca on his blog site, and this newsletter was given to him by AstraZeneca’s employees who called themselves the ‘AZ Group of Seven’- with the intent of this group being to bring to the attention of others the illegal activity of off-label promotion of one of AZ’s cancer drugs promoted by their employer. Yet this particular concern by AZ seven, by surprise, is not what caught the attention of so many who viewed the posted newsletter by Dr. Rost and was read with great interest by others. It was instead a comment included in this newsletter that was stated by former regional AZ manager Mike Zubalagga, who was being interviewed by a district manager in this newsletter. Mr. Zubalagga, who in this newsletter posted on Dr Rost’s blog site, referred to doctors’ offices as ‘buckets of money’, which caught the attention of several readers. This and other statements by this man were in fact published in this newsletter clearly not reviewed before its publication. . Again, the statement and the newsletter created by AZ was indeed authentic and further validated due to the content being in the written word, which added credibility.
    Mr. Zubalagga was fired the next day due to this ‘buckets of money’ comment due to the effect it had on the image of his employer. His manager resigned soon afterwards from AZ.
    Blogs, one can safely conclude, reveal secrets.
    And there have been other whistleblower cases on various blogs in addition to this one described a moment ago, which illustrates the power of blogs as being a very powerful and threatening media medium of valid information disclosure that others cannot prevent from occurring.
    This, in my opinion, is true freedom of information- largely free of embellishments or selective omissions. It’s a step towards communication utopia, perhaps, yet a force that has the ability to both harm and protect many others.
    Yet again, the information on these blogs should not be taken as absolute truth without proof to verify claims that may be made, as with other media sources. Of course, documents that are authentic is an example of a good validation source. And this, in my opinion, is the blog’s greatest value, combined with the comments on blogs from the growing number of readers who are allowed to contribute to the subject matter so quickly, which fuels the objectives of the blogs, which may be a type of Socratic learning.
    Like other written statements, some on such internet sites are composed with respect of the written word. Others are not. It’s the freedom that may be most appealing of this new medium which has the ability to convert citizens into journalists who want to contribute to an issue of their concern they share with the blogger often with great conviction and accuracy.
    Because we, the public, have a right to know what we are entitled to know and what we want to know. This is especially true if the information disclosed on blogs could potentially be adverse to our well-being.

    Ignorance is bliss, but knowledge is power.

    “Information is the seed of an idea, and only grows when it’s watered.” — Heinz V. Berger

    Dan Abshear

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