Pre-Interview Discussion

Blogging 101

Blogs as Reflections of Identity

Blogs as Scholarly Activities

Hosting an Academic Blog

Future Projects

Post-Interview Reflection

Hosting an Academic Blog

Q: What advice do you have for academics who are considering hosting their own blogs?

C: Think carefully about goals and purposes for the blog before starting. Consider joining an already active weblog community like Kairosnews if you want to blog about specific issues of rhetoric, technology, and pedagogy. Doing this would save you the trouble of setting up a site and building an audience.

Starting a blog without a clearly defined set of purposes can easily result in those blogs you see with about one post per month, starting out with an apology to no one in particular along the lines of, "I know I haven't blogged in a while; I'm such a bad blogger! I just don't know what to write about. A lot has been going on lately, and my schedule's been busy..." Update your blog often; make a commitment to updating it at least once a week to build some momentum for yourself.

Also, think about whether or not you want to use your real name. There are good reasons to use your real name, with name recognition as the obvious choice. Blogging under your real name attracts attention to your department and (if applicable) your graduate program, so it can be an indirect means of recruitment. Real-name blogging can also lead to a variety of opportunities, such as guest lectures, interviews, and invited publications. You can post works in progress and have your real name attached to them (and by the way, don't worry that someone will steal your ideas if you blog about them; putting your ideas out in public with your name on them is one of the best ways to ensure this doesn't happen).

However, if you think writing under your real name would circumscribe or inhibit what you really want to say on your blog, then seriously consider a pseudonym. Feeling silenced by your own blog is never a good thing, and that feeling will influence how often you update your blog.

Finally, this may be controversial, but I'll say it anyway. Be aware of the rhetorical impact of the software you choose for your blog. I found in my dissertation research that some software tools are automatically taken more seriously than others. Generally the most serious option is having your own domain and using Drupal, WordPress, Movable Type, or TypePad. Using, a free service, is a good idea if you don't want to buy your own domain. Blogger is a good option as well. The tools that really, unfortunately, pigeonhole you as a blogger are Diaryland, Xanga, and LiveJournal. This is not to say you shouldn't use those tools, just that they may have an effect on how wide your audience is.

About Clancy
Clancy Ratliff is an Assistant Professor of English and Director of First Year Writing at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. She is a specialist in feminist rhetorics, digital media, modern rhetorical theory, technical communication, and intellectual property and authorship.

Ratliff was awarded the Hugh Burns Best Dissertation Award by Computers and Composition in May 2007. The previous year, Kairos honored her with the John Lovas Memorial Academic Weblog Award.

Ratliff's recent publications include "Attracting Readers: Sex and Audience in the Blogsphere" in Scholar and Feminist Online (2007). Her work, "Weblogs with Creative Commons License" has been accepted for publication in the upcoming collection, Composition, Copyright, and Intellectual Property Law, edited by Stephen Westbrook.