I think Aristotle would have loved blogging. Although the medium is fraught – as are all media – with the potential for frivolity and egocentrism, blogs also hold great academic promise. With roots in ancient pedagogical and scholarly practices, blogging may be especially important for graduate students and faculty members entering the field of composition studies. The unique literacy practice allows professional writing teachers a means to archive their past work while focusing on future projects and publications necessary for success as professionals in higher education. For example, the blog below is maintained by Rachael Groner, an English department faculty member at a large urban university, and includes discussions of her teaching and also her personal life. Recent articles have touted the power of blogs in public debate, as teaching tools, and as forums for personal exploration, but faculty members and graduate students may benefit from a focus on blogs as scholarly sites of professional production.
In the Fall 2005 edition of Computers and Composition Online, several members of a graduate class at Bowling Green State University explore the specific implications of blogging for graduate school work. The article considers three specific functions of blog space: blog as "agora" where the "evolution of news watchers to news gatherers and shapers" is possible, blog as digital salon where public and private spheres merge, and blog as performance space where new scholars test out knowledge (Colby et al.). Barclay Barrios further categorizes the various purposes and formats for blogs in the Spring 2005 "Blogs, a Primer: A Guide to Weblogs in the Classroom and in Research for Compositionists, Rhetoricians, Educators, &c.," an update to his 2003 "Year of the Blog." Included in his extensive list of blog types is "research blogs" and "teaching blogs." My work here will concentrate on the specific ways blogs can shape not just the research or teaching interests and projects of graduate student and new faculty members, but can also shape and organize emerging careers and entire bodies of work. This article will first explore the historical roots of blogging as academic practice and bloggers as scholars. In the final two sections are principles for making blogs useful as academic storehouses and as factories for scholarly work.