To blog or not to blog?

I started blogging about two years ago, firstly with a blog about one of my hobbies (that was a great way to get started blogging, without having to focus too much on the contents – a win-win situation with lot of practice and no pressures), then with a blog about archaeology (now closed), and finally last year I decided to set up this one, “Finding Helicon”.

However, it took a while to come up with some ideas on what I wanted to blog about and how I wanted to write of these topics. Should I have done a blog strictly related to my PhD project? Or should I have aimed to speak of all the seminars and conferences I attended? Should I have discussed my readings or my opinions on “professionals” issues?
In other words, as a PhD student you are recommended to blog about your research interests (the famous “dissemination” and “engagement” boxes we are encouraged to start ticking as soon as possible), but on the other side you often end up wondering where to set any boundaries to the topics you read and speak about, – and even more often, your research is more or less the last thing you feel confident to write about on a blogpost and submit to the evaluation of the World Wide Web.
If you decide to blog on your research, you may fear that your “real” work should be presented only in peer reviewed publications or in conferences. You may fear that reducing it to the short span of a blogpost, will not allow you explaining it properly. You may fear of being stolen of some ideas.
If you decide to blog on some of your side interests, you may fear of not being competent enough to write about them. You may fear of altering your “professional” profile. You may fear of ending up with many short notes about various interesting topics, but without any coherence or any real demonstration of your real interests and knowledge. Your personal expertise may fade away among so many half-side-projects-I-will-do-eventually-in-the-future.
The list of doubts, questions and fears is almost infinite: just a quick search on Google will show many different opinions. But then, PhD students are still very prolific bloggers, and many models of PhD blogs exist there around. Some bloggers decide to share the up-and-downs of their PhDs life, others provide useful advice on tools to “hack” our PhDs, and others introduce some aspects of their researches and publish some pieces of their academic work, many discuss conferences and publications outcomes, news and development in their fields. And as a blog reader, I have to say I enjoy all these approaches: sometime, I can find that other students have gone through the same up-and-downs (and they have survived!); I can find useful apps to use in my work; and, last but not least, I can keep up to date with what’s happening in my field.
After a lot of struggles, I realised that all what was between me and a blog, it was just my perfectionism. I had never considered myself a perfectionist, and I never had such problems before in my work. But the only fact of sending a blogpost out on the web was making me much more nervous than sending a chapter to my supervisors. And, indeed, I found out that “blogging perfectionism” is highly diffused and many bloggers struggle with it.
So, after all, why did I decide to stop worrying and giving blogging a go? The answer is easy: I will never write the perfect blogpost, nor will I ever speak of all my interests at my best, but at least, I will speak of them. So, to conclude – how some cons became pros and convinced me to blog: 
My post is not enough academic. My post is not enough detailed and referenced.
This is not academia. You can give here a glimpse of your research, and discuss it more in details at conferences or interviews.
I risk too much by posting my research.
The great thing of blogging is that it is up to us to set the boundaries of what we speak of. Aside from the fact that no one is going to discover a whole new world, bits and pieces of our researches will already be out on the web (e.g.: PhDs students profiles on the University sites, abstracts, and even word of mouth between colleagues we have spoken with,…). A blog can be a great way of setting out our own voice, rather than letting people google our names and come out with many disparate pieces.
I am not good enough. I am not an expert.
We are here to learn, it’s ok to be not always on the top. It is also possible to acknowledge our limitations.
People may think I am studying both x and y. Or that I study only y and not x.
This is up to what do you want your internet footprint to be? If you are interested in something, and you are ok with people to know about that interest, why not blogging about it? If you are not interested or you don’t want anyone to know, just do not blog on that topic!
I don’t know what’s the best language and style. What level of details shall I aim for.  Who am I speaking to.
I usually try out different styles on this blog, though most of the time I just keep it simple. After all, when I read others’ blogs, I am not looking for an academic publication, or I would have just gone to the library!
I need to read more on this side-interest topic, before speaking of it.
This is blogging perfectionism! Acknowledge your limitations, and give your opinion, if you are interested in engaging on this topic.
Still not convinced?
Another few opinions:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s