In Transit

I'll be heading to San Francisco before long to attend the Modern Language Association convention, which starts this weekend.

The plan is for me to live blog it (or should that be "live-blog"? "liveblog"?) for Inside Higher Ed. I will post the coordinates for said blog once they are available. [UPDATE: Here it is.]

Meanwhile, no column this week. I have not been posting links to it here all that often this year, or indeed to very much of my other work, and for that matter have tended to go long periods without blogging much at all. This wasn't a matter of policy. My attention has been elsewhere.

All of it might change in the new year. Then again, maybe not. I'm still trying to figure out how to function in this post-print environment. I'm glad to have escaped the Chronicle well before routine executions became the norm, and the audience for Inside Higher Ed has grown to well over half a million readers, and its staff keeps getting larger. All to the good. But I'd like to figure out how to get the column to the attention of non-academic readers. No brainstorms have occurred. Where blogging fits in that effort, it's still hard to say. 
December 23, 2008 10:15 AM | | Comments (3)

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Take your time figuring out this whole online thing, Scott. The world waits with barely bated breath. But I'm sure your industrious and socially adepts ways would have rendered you immune from the Chronicle assassinations, anyway.

Thanks, SJ. That is the first time anyone has ever called me "socially adept," and it will not be a great surprise if it proves to be the last, as well.

The executions have been distressing, and it sounds like there are more to come. Friends and people I respect have either been discarded or otherwise shown the door. There's no doubt that I would have met the same fate. (And it's not that getting away was a matter of seeing the bloody handwriting on the wall -- rather, just a personal necessity: a move required to do certain kinds of work that would not be possible otherwise.)

Meanwhile, I've almost completely stopped writing for newspapers over the past year, and don't expect to do much more of it this next -- at least, not for the bourgeois press. Which is a drag, in some ways. The bourgeois press pays you in money, which can be exchanged for goods and services. This, I find, often proves convenient.

Of course, new media also pays, and rather better than newspapers, at least in some cases. But print has sentimental value. I also like being able to refer to writing for "the bourgeois press," while "the bourgeois internet" just doesn't have the same ring.

As someone who hasn't yet figured out how to "make it big" in post-print writing despite over five years of trying, perhaps my advice won't be of much help to you. But for what it's worth, I think getting non-academics to read an academic column has a lot to do with getting into non-academic trust networks. The secret of what success I've had with my own blog is that I started it with a whole lot of writers who were popular on Daily Kos, and who then brought over their regular readers to participate in the community. When that outlet cut off, primarily because I went my separate way from the dKos community, traffic stopped growing and began to retrench. That only changed a couple of months ago when Digg rediscovered a series one of my writers did months ago on the Glass-Steagall Act, which got picked up and then percolated throughout the blogosphere.

So if you want to connect your column with non-academic readers, you've got to start hanging out in non-academic communities. And you've got to do a lot of it. That doesn't mean doing so would be a good use of your time -- heck, I left dKos after establishing years of rapport there, knowing full well what it would do to my traffic. But it does come down to trust networks, unless you happen to write something on Glass-Steagall months before the financial meltdown, or find some similar window or random opportunity.

Also for what it's worth, I mentioned to one of my fellow grad students a couple of months ago that I knew you, and got a stare of openmouthed appreciation in return. This is from someone who's worked in Silicon Valley for the past ten years and has been largely out of the academic loop. So you are getting through to non-academic communities, at least somewhere.

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This page contains a single entry by Quick Study published on December 23, 2008 10:15 AM.

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