3.25.2006

i return, and i got nothin' (much)

so, just had a great trip to chicago, where i went to this conference and among other things, attended a panel where this woman was presenting on blogs (and specifically the use of blogs for academic peer-to-peer review). it's slightly shameful for someone in my field to say this, but i had actually never come across this blog before, even though her work overlaps a lot with mine, and even though she's a blogger. so, i come back here to my computer, and check out her site.

i think that image she has on the front has to be one of the most disarming ones i have ever seen. let me tell you, the chick looks like the woman who gave the talk. (initial interior monologue: what's the deal with the image? it's ironic, right? right? right?).i am a little knackered, ok?

i think it's pure fucking genius, actually. it reminds me of sarah vowell's short story from this american life (search "American Goth") where she goes underground and becomes a goth. one part of her immersion involves her final selection of a goth name. she chooses "becky" and inspires awe amongst her goth peers, for the name is so anti-goth, it is goth... that's how this image works (don't ask me to explain it any more than that. i'm shit-for brains)

there was also some discussion about academic blogging and whether it should count as publication (towards tenure). one woman said she recently chaired a job search committee where a candidate declared herself as "Bitch PhD." wow... (i wanted to go up and shake her and say "SO did you HIRE her??? did anyone have a problem with the blog???) it got me thinking about my pseudononymous ways, and also how potentially dangerous it can be for academics to "come out" online. when i started this whole thing, i completely intended to publish my real name, and then a close friend commented on how her school Dean googles candidates when they come for on-campus interviews. yikes... i might be able to get the search committee to chortle along to posts about willies and zits, and look with benign amusement at the memes, but... do i want the Dean to read "100 things about me.." and so forth? or maybe i am just overthinking it all, and the notion of blogging being academically dangerous is just overblown bullshit.

i am not really going anywhere with this, and i realize that mine is not an academic blog really--save for a few moments where i need to wax lyrical about something theoretical from time to time, but for the most part this is a space for me to tell stories about the banal yet (what i find) hilarious details of life.

so--what do you all think? if you've opted to stay anonymous is it only about protecting one's career? what other benefits (or drawbacks) are there to having a "personae" you have created (or do you even think about it in these terms?).




12 comments:

Mega Mom said...

I can't say I'm really anonymous, and I have no reason to be. Save for trying to keep pedophiles away from my kids, I put most things out there. I keep names and towns out of it, but most people I know, know I have the blog.

If I were working in a field that would frown on my blog content, I'd surely opt for total anonynimity. I guess it depends what you use your blog for :)

Mega Mom said...

One more tidbit. Obviously had I chosen not to tell anyone about my blog, I'd have MUCH more material and I'd be able to be more opinionated!

Bella Sultane said...

I mostly think about the benefits, not the drawbacks of remaining anonymous. At this point, I don't feel like I have enough job security to take a chance that what I write might negatively impact my career in the future.

Also, remaining anonymous allows me some freedom to write about fairly personal things about my past that I still need to 'process,' but that I prefer not to talk about with 'RL' people.

Mom101 said...

I have gone back and forth on this a lot, and in fact a post is forthcoming on the topic. I started as mildly anonymous although all my friends and family have the url. But now that I have coolmompicks.com and have to look at that like a business woman (plus I am a businesswoman)I have to consider who's reading my blog and how could it adversely affect me in business. (Did that make any sense?)

Even so, I've approached my blog more like a columnist than a diarists. I don't look at it as therapy. So while you may find the occassional "my period sucks" post, (and my clients can suck it if they're not comfortable with that), and you'll certainly find my politics there, you're not going to see me revealing embarrassing family secrets or confessing to a swingers lifestyle anytime soon.

It's the lament of the memoirist I suppose.

gingajoy said...

all three of you touch on my own reasons. a)security for my family (and i do have a husband who has distinct sense of boundaries--unlike me!) many of my friends have the url, but no family. but i never intend to write about them specifically (except my poor mother--i need to post something on how cool she is soon!) unless they know completely about it beforehand. but that's because they know the URL, so i could really be in trouble if i vented!

b) like bella says--professional security and a sense that i am not quite sure really what this thing *is* yet.

and then finally, i think mom-101 put it better than i could. my own blog is less a journal than a column or commentary. this is partly out of necessity (see above on hubs and boundaries) and partly because i have always been a ham. (read, in perpetual search of audience). i am less given to soul searching/journaling than the tendency to grab hold of someone and say "i am weird like this.. are you weird like this?"

not that i don't soul search, and i am sure there will be some in this blog (as there has been) but i'm lean towards frivolity over looking inward.

this must mean i am as shallow as i have always expected;-)

Mama C-ta said...

At times I wish I were 100% anonymous and others 100% out. My main reason for using an alias is so my mom can't find out exactly what I think about her ;) It's all about keeping the family in the dark. I have their G rated version of Cricket so they are happy, they don't need to know more than that.

If I actually had a career I cared about (or any at all), I would be worried using my real name though.

Mama C-ta said...

PS saw you @ Work for Idle Hands.

virtualredhead said...

Can't rally comment on the anonimity aspect, but I will say this: that graphic is good ol' "Sweet Valley High." Did you read those books as a girl? The twins Jessica and Elizabeth who were exactly what I was not but wished I was when I was 13. Funny flashback.

gingajoy said...

sweet valley high, huh? that makes sense. nope, did not read those, but did read the entire ouvre of judy blume (including "deanie" at about 11--i had no frickin' CLUE what she was up to in the bath. serious).

zeldafitz said...

That is really interesting question and I'm glad you brought it up. I am theoretically anonymous but a couple of bats of Google's tail and I'm there. So I think of it as partially anonymous--sort of like the don't ask don't tell method.

I have always been concerned about the work aspect, but my attitude is, I'm a writer by profession so any employer needs to take account that the blog is something I do as a writing exercize every day--my one shot at creativity when everything else is bearing down sort of thing.

I also think of my stuff more as essays or contained pieces rather than random journalistic ramblings (like this comment!).

So I guess I just feel more comfortable with one foot behind the veil, but with the knowledge that the veil can be lifted at any time. And I certainly write with that in mind, but try to be as uninhibited as possible because I think the "self edit" is a constant source of constiction. I also don't want to hurt anyone, ever.

Welcome back!

weaker vessel said...

Oooh, you went to CCCC! I was briefly into R & C in grad school, until my idealized notion of helping people express themselves in writing crashed head-on into the reality of lots of tedious one-on-one instruction with college students who couldn't even write a one-paragraph summary without serious hand-holding. Patience is NOT my strong suit.

It's funny; I had the exact same distinctly unsettled reaction when I first encountered CultureCat's blog, like, this has to be ironic, right? RIGHT? It is genius, and I don't know if I'm more jealous that she 1) actually looks like a SVH girl or 2) had the idea to co-opt teen romance novel imagery for her banner first. (Truth be told, though, I was always more of a Canby Hall girl than a SVH devotee, as befitting someone with lifelong socioeconomic class issues.)

You and I have chatted about blogger identity/anonymity a little already, prompting me to begin a draft of a lengthy...wait for it...wankfest on the subject to be posted some time in the next few weeks, probably. I am in the process of trying to make a career transition right now, so I might feel more open about publicly proclaiming my identity after I'm more established in the new sub-field. But, like Lisa, I'm really only quasi-anonymous; you'd have to be a total moron not to be able to guess my name in a few minutes if you were really thinking about it. Thanks for the thought-provoking post, and sorry for the novella-lenth reply!

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