Back in the blogging game

Hello world! It’s been a while since I’ve done any blogging, but I’ve been wanting to return for some time now, so here we are. My old blog was a hodge podge that hovered at the edges of my research. Current events featured prominently, especially those having to do with governance in online communities, knowledge production and access, and research ideas. I have a few different goals for this blog.

A new day dawns for blogging on the shores of Lake Michigan…



First, since it’s part of the Community Data Science Collective site, I plan to talk about our research, affiliates, community events, and related topics. Second, I want to use the blog as a space to sketch out research ideas more regularly. When I blogged previously, I was a graduate student. I had more unstructured time in which to brainstorm and reflect. The transition to faculty and the subsequent accumulation of responsibilities, projects, students, and commitments has left me seeking time to think broadly and with less structure. I need a semi-structured space and time to do so. As a result, I return to blogging.

This relates to a third goal: a minimum of one post per week. In the old days, Mako coordinated the Cambridge instance of Iron Blogger, a group blogging accountability project in which all the participants agreed to write one post per week or pay $5 into a common pot (that we then used to throw a party whenever it got big enough). The incentives sound misaligned, but the semi-public commitment, a deadline, and the nominal material cost of failure got a weekly post out of me roughly 90% of the time.

There is no iron blogger group in Chicago (yet?), but I’m going to recreate the structure with a little public accountability infrastructure with some friends. So far, Rachel and I have committed to posting weekly and tracking our posts. If others want to join, we can add further infrastructure as needed. No fines for now, but if I fail to post frequently between now and the end of the academic year, I’ll revisit.

Finally, since I do a lot more mentoring and teaching now than I used to, I imagine that these activities will occupy a fair amount of my attention as well. I feel more comfortable publishing material about my teaching now than when I first started at Northwestern. I am also realizing that my approach to teaching would lend itself really well to blogging as I am continually tinkering with the structure of my assignments, readings, evaluations, and lessons. A space to reflect on my experiences more actively and to solicit feedback from students and others seems like a helpful thing.

That’s it for this opening post. Thanks for reading.

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