November
30th 2009
To blog, or not to blog? That’s the question.

Posted under: jobs, publication

hamletskullTenured Radical had a provocative post last week about blogging before tenure.  (I suppose we could extend this to include before employment, for all of you graduate student and adjunct bloggers out there.)  She writes:

3. Do you think that blogs should be considered, in any respect, when a professor has yet to attain tenure?

Since the discipline in which I hold tenure (history) has barely dealt with electronic publishing at all as part of the promotion process, and also has a mixed record on how it regards pre-tenure scholarship published to a trade audience, I would hope that we would not start having a conversation about blogs that was not preceded by one that addressed these other critical issues. But I should think that participation in group blogs that serve a field or a discipline should be taken into account as much as book reviews or encyclopedia entries, which everyone lists in endless, boring detail on their vitae as if they took more than a day to write.

Good point.  A former colleague of mine once called those things–book reviews and encyclopedia entries–”salad,” as in, you won’t get much credit for doing them, but you should do them to contribute to the profession and, in years in which you don’t publish a prizewinning article or book, to show that you’re doing something.  Here’s where the whole question of peer review comes up, though–it strikes me that a group blog that focuses fundamentally on scholarship (like our pals at Religion in American History) could make a more than reasonable case for including their blogging in their scholarship.  This blog, on the other hand, isn’t going on my annual evaluation, although I publish from my position as “Historiann” and not (for example) as a parent (if I am one), pet owner, running enthusiast, NASCAR fan, or whatever.  (The reasons for this are explained in more detail here and here, with help from my old friend GayProf–it’s a personal preference, but realistically, blogging ain’t going to get me my final promotion, so why bother?) 

Here’s where la Radical gets more spicy:

Would I hold a blog against someone? Sure! If I was certain that a person had been caught in a huge bloggy lie — plagiarism, seducing people on line by pretending to be someone else, and masquerading as a variety of different, malicious sock puppets on their own and other peoples’ blogs are three examples that come to mind — it would cause me to wonder about that person’s general integrity and scrutinize other aspects of the tenure case a bit more carefully for similar flaws. It has been my unhappy experience that people who lie don’t just do it in one context, and they tend to keep doing it. I stumbled onto the website of someone whose first book was plagiarized in the manuscript stage (although when this was pointed out, innocence was claimed and the problems were at least partly rectified.) Many years later, the web page was full of flamers about said person’s personal history that were entirely irrelevant to scholarship but that fabricated a far more dashing past than the individual actually had. Honesty in personal relations strikes me as equally, if not more, important than scholarly integrity, since in most of our daily work we count on people to be honest in all their relationships.

I agree.  (Joseph Ellis, anyone?)  This can usually be avoided by not being a complete jerk on-line.  (I’ll readily admit that I’ve been a jerk here on occasion when responding to a commenter, but I’ve apologized and tried to make it right.)  This issue also seems very much intertwined with the question of anonymity, pseudonymity, or blogging under your given name and profession:  the lines we draw are different.  For example:  esteemed friends with anonymous or completely pseudonymous blogs (like Dr. Crazy, Notorious Ph.D., both of whom were recently tenured and promoted while blogging) don’t write anything on their blogs that they would be ashamed to have their colleagues find and identify with them.  They’ve built a “brand” for themselves under a pseudonym, and they’re just as responsible for it now as they are about their given names and professional identities.  As all my friends who work in advertising and marketing tell me all of the time, social media and blogs are all about developing your “brand,” so the wise blogger doesn’t develop an on-line identity that’s dramatically different from or conflicts with hir professional identity.  (At least, that’s what Another Damned Medievalist and I talked about last summer when we met–she has given papers at conferences about using on-line communication in developing a professional identity.)  

For myself, because I’m not really pseudonymous, you may have noticed that not only do I not talk about my work colleagues or what happened at a recent faculty meeting, but I also never write anything specific about my students or anything terribly interesting about what’s going on in my classes–because b!tching about them here (were I so inclined) would seem at the very least disloyal, if not predatory.  I also keep track of comments to ensure that people are playing nicely, and that no one is being insulted or ganged up on (including me, by the way.)

What do you think?  Do you think TR is too quick to judge, or do you think her avenging fire would rain down righteously on the wicked?  On whom would your avenging fire rain down?  (Or do you fear that you might be an unlucky avengee?)

36 Comments »

36 Responses to “To blog, or not to blog? That’s the question.”

  1. Comrade PhysioProf on 30 Nov 2009 at 9:56 am #

    If you take what TR says seriously, then there is pretty much no professional upside to blogging, and plenty of potential downside.

  2. Historiann on 30 Nov 2009 at 10:02 am #

    I disagree–but then, it depends on why people blog. If they just want to b!tch about their students and colleagues, that’s one thing. If they use it to build an intellectual and/or professional community, then it’s another thing. I’d say the latter is a pretty big upside, especially for people like me who are geographically isolated from my archives and from most of my professional colleagues.

    As for the downsides: I’ve learned that taking any kind of a stand whatsoever other than “cookies and slankets and snuggles for everyone!” is read as a provocation by some. But, I was tenured when I started my blog, so although it took me by surprise to see what pi$$ed some readers off, I didn’t have to fear for my job.

  3. Indyanna on 30 Nov 2009 at 10:07 am #

    I’ll take question # 3, above, bold-face, should blogs be considered in tenure and other academic personnel decision frameworks, and say, a) yes, but only if they’re submitted as such by the auteur, b) only if they predominantly relate to professional and disciplinary matters, broadly defined (leaving liberal room for the dolls, fluff, recipes and similar ephemera that we all use to leaven the classroom and hallway conversation parts of our jobs), and c) essentially in the service category, albeit at the very high-end of that amorphous category. Like book reviews (the consumption of which allow all of us to seem much better read than we are), encyclopedia entries (try starting a new project in an area very far afield from your last one without using them liberally), or talks to outside groups that are designed to distribute “new knowledge,” etc. They hold communities together in this virtual world and presumably do to an extensive (but non-assessible) degree lead to specific acts of cross-fertilization. What’s not to count about any of that?

    On an only tangentially related matter, a report from the library battlefront: Another attack by the Administrative-Consultancy Complex on 60,000 books up at Lock Haven University. Early casualty reports are unavailable at this point, but faculty are reported to have mobilized quickly and returned fire. As a colleague of mine notes this morning, “god, you’d think the books were starting to demand salary and benefits.” A program to send 60,000 academic managers and administrators, nationwide, to some remote storage facility somewhere, on the other hand, would get great support in this corner.

  4. Flavia on 30 Nov 2009 at 10:24 am #

    At this point, half of my colleagues know about my blog, and I’m in the fortunate position of having a colleague who is also a long-time blogger (a much bigger name than I); s/he was pseudonymous before tenure and now writes under his/her own name, so my department seems pretty blasé about the whole thing. And given that almost all of my professional friends also know who I am — and that I’ve found my blog a really useful networking and professional tool — I’ve been thinking about quietly associating my blog with my real name (by listing it on my Facebook page, for example), though I haven’t yet.

    If I did, I might list it on my annual faculty activity report, even though I’m pre-tenure, but I’d probably do it either under the same category as “reviews and shorter pieces” (as you suggest), or “professional activities” (which is probably more accurate): the blog helps my professional profile in certain limited ways, and that probably reflects well on my department and institution in the same distant way that my going to a lot of conferences and giving a lot of talks might reflect well on it, by putting its name out there and associating it with me and my (hopefully sound, interesting) scholarship — but my blogging is not itself scholarship, and I’m not sure it’s even service.

  5. Matt L on 30 Nov 2009 at 10:29 am #

    I basically agree with TR. A person should be judged on the basis of his or her actions. If you act like a jerk, especially if you plagiarize, maliciously attack people, and generally do not “share and play well with others,” that should be held against you, whether its on-line or in person.

    I’m going up for tenure this year, but I did not worry too much about whether my blog was a liability or not (I’ve got bigger problems. I need a pub). My colleagues and the administrators are from another generation. I do not think that it would occur to them to search “the tubes on the internets” for something written by a junior colleague. They can be barely arssed to read my professional development plan, why would they care about my blog?

    I’ve put my blog on hiatus until I can get an article published (on paper) in a peer reviewed journal. Its taken me five years (I teach 4/4), and I am still doing revisions. No publication date yet. I feel like my blog is supposed to be fun, a reward and something worth doing in its own right. So if I don’t have my work done, I don’t have any business blogging.

  6. Clio Bluestocking on 30 Nov 2009 at 11:34 am #

    I’m among the wicked and deserve to be the avengee.

    I started my blog at a whole different point in my life, and it has given me great solace and artistic freedom as a writer. I’d never consider it scholarly because its main purpose has been to help me figure stuff out, both professionally and personally. I consider it my business — my space to figure out my stuff — not my c.v.’s business. No one whom I work with knows about it because I don’t want them judging me for things in my personal life. The professional stuff is open for debate.

    If I waited for tenure to blog, I’d never blog because I’ve never been on the tenure track and, at my current job, we have those rolling contracts. If I’d never blogged or stopped blogging altogether, well, I’d consider that a huge loss to my life. Hence, the pseudonymity.

    Of course, if ever caught — depending on the circumstance — I’d ‘fess up to wrongdoing and consider it fair if anyone held my behavior on my blog against me. If you don’t like me on the blog, you probably won’t like me in the 3D world because I’m really just a watered down version of my blog self.

  7. Emma on 30 Nov 2009 at 11:37 am #

    Somewhat relatedly: it always amazes me that people think anything online is truly psuedonymous or somehow “private”. Facebook sells accounts that allow the user to access any and all so-called “private” spaces in FB accounts. Guess who buys these accounts? Your future employer, that’s who.

    It just means that you have to conduct yourself to a certain standard of conduct everywhere, including online whether it be through blogs, comments, Facebook, or anywhere else. Everywhere you go, you are representing yourself. And whether it’s “fair” or not, people are bound to notice who you are and what you’re doing.

    It seems to me that most of the people who most object to this* are those who feel entitled, by virtue of race, class, sex, ethnicity, or whatever else, to act like a jerk in various ways, discriminatory and not, and they’re upset that getting caught at it has consequences. Paging Jon Favreau…

    *And I mean object to on their own personal behalf rather than as a larger First Amendment right to privacy issue. I think there are privacy issues that interact with civil rights issues regarding online content and participation. Lots of gays/lesbians socialize online, especially gays/lesbians in smaller, more isolated communities and some number of teens learn about being gay/lesbian online. Just for one example.

  8. Another Damned Medievalist on 30 Nov 2009 at 1:08 pm #

    This is something I’ve been going over in my mind more than a bit, partially because I have an online presence in a couple of places. I think of my blog as a public place — it’s not locked, and I write for a public audience. But I think I mentioned when we were together this summer that I’d met someone on LJ whose behaviour is often abusive and beyond the pale. I do wonder where the line lies there, though. On the one hand, LJ (and now other blog software) can be locked down, so that the information and conversations are “private”. And I would never pass on information that was posted behind a lock. But part of me thinks that, if you see a potential colleague behaving badly towards others, it does influence how you feel.

    And I have to say that, if someone asked me if I knew so-and-so, and what I thought of hir fitting into a particular department, my response really would be the same as it would if I knew the person IRL — I’d honestly say I was acquainted, and that I had witnessed behaviour that was worrying — just as I would feel obliged if I’d been at a social event or professional event and seen a person bullying or badmouthing or sexually harrassing, or telling a racist joke.

    hmmm. Not sure where I was going with this.

  9. Historiann on 30 Nov 2009 at 1:57 pm #

    ADM–I’m with you: “if you see a potential colleague behaving badly towards others, it does influence how you feel.” As Emma warns, there’s no such place as private anymore, or at least not for long. (Wasn’t this a big issue with the job wiki a few years ago–people were looking up other people’s IP addresses and informing everyone where they were writing from?)

    I have in fact once upon a time told a search chair in my department about some very disturbing and aggressive behavior on the part of a job applicant (of which I had direct but not eyewitness knowledge.) In the end, the candidate didn’t advance beyond an AHA interview, so it wasn’t necessary to go further than that. But, the search chair was very concerned about the information I brought hir, and agreed that it wasn’t the kind of thing we wanted to invite into our department.

  10. Historiann on 30 Nov 2009 at 1:59 pm #

    Oh, and on Emma’s point about “private” fB accounts: she’s right. A family member is in charge of recruiting for a major Eastern consulting firm, and the first thing she does when an application for a summer intern or new associate position comes across her desk is to go on fB and look up the applicant. If applicants demonstrate poor judgment in how they present themselves on line, then she tosses their applications into the recycling bin.

  11. Susan on 30 Nov 2009 at 2:24 pm #

    I would certainly consider blog writing a form of professional service, one that knits together the rather scattered academic community.

    As to FB, anyone checking up on me could find the program for the spring concert in Junior High, as well as some photos of me in 7th grade. It’s deeply, deeply incriminating. I WAS in 7th grade! (Any self respecting person would just skip junior high, don’t you think?)

  12. Emma on 30 Nov 2009 at 2:27 pm #

    When I was in bootcamp, my drill instructors told us that when we got yelled at, all anybody heard was “recruit blah-de-blah-de-blah”. But when we were actually marines, everybody would hear “pvt. SMITH, you’re a F***-UP”. IOW

  13. Emma on 30 Nov 2009 at 2:45 pm #

    Sorry.

    IOW, you’re expected to mess up in boot camp, and nobody cares, you get the anonymity of being a recruit among hundreds of other recruits all screwing up in the same way. I think people still treat college and FB and lots of online places like that. They feel anonymous because there are so many people around them doing the same thing. It can be very shocking when it turns out that “they did it too!” or “they did it first!” isn’t an acceptable defense.

    Anthony Ciolli, who was an executive at AutoAdmit, lost a job because of his affiliation with the board that “served as a platform for attacks and defamatory remarks about female law students”. Assertedly, some of the female law students lost job opportunities because of what other people had posted about them on that board.

    This is a quote from the board’s two founders and officers:

    “The two men said that some of the women who complain of being ridiculed on AutoAdmit invite attention by, for example, posting their photographs on other social networking sites, such as Facebook or MySpace.

    Cohen said he no longer keeps identifying information on users because he does not want to encourage lawsuits and drive traffic away. Asked why posters could not use their real names, he said, ‘People would not have as much fun, frankly, if they had to worry about employers pulling up information on them.’”

    Victims = perfectly acceptable targets for harassment. Harassers = guys who want to have fun without jeopardizing their future job opportunities.

    Here’s a link to the WaPo story that resulted in Ciolli losing his job offer. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/03/06/AR2007030602705_2.html?referrer=emailarticle

  14. Indyanna on 30 Nov 2009 at 3:08 pm #

    Jeez, I hope nobody hacks into “Trash Magazine,” a little start-up thingie that I co-edited back in the eighth grade at an unnamed school in eastern PA, before I realized that “school” shared a common root with scholarship. But that was back during the transition from papyrus to paper, or maybe from rag based paper to wood pulp, and even I can’t find any copies of it now. I know we kept it pretty civil, relatively speaking, and only “Trashed” imaginary personna, but I’m not sure Mr. Steer realized that…

  15. Historiann on 30 Nov 2009 at 3:13 pm #

    Emma–I got your boot camp anecdote! No apologies needed. I followed on and off the AutoAdmit nonsense via some other feminist blogs and Feminist Law Profs. I think it’s hi-larious that teh doodz think it’s A-OK to trash a woman law student and jeopardize her employment prospects, but anything that would threaten THEIR jobs is dirty pool, somehow. (I guess “not being jerks” wasn’t a strategy that they contemplated.)

    Oh, and Ciolli? HA-ha!

  16. Janice on 30 Nov 2009 at 3:22 pm #

    None of my blogs have ever been anything much in the way of service. They’re just blogs. I participated once in an online academic exercise posting from my old blog. That’s made its way into my pedagogy folder but, to be honest, I’d give anything to go back in time and have already hived off a professional blog for that and other academic-related postings. I didn’t do that until several years later, however, so it’s stuffed in the middle between a whole bunch of personal posts and other ramblings.

    However, if you have an academic blog and you’re proud of it as an academic product, you’d be in a good position to add that to your CV and explore/exploit the value. Of course, judging your own colleagues well. We old dinosaurs aren’t all that tech-phobic, you know!

  17. The Bittersweet Girl on 30 Nov 2009 at 5:34 pm #

    Like a lot of academic bloggers, I started blogging precisely so that I could vent about the experience of being on the tenure track — say all of the things that I feel I cannot say in faculty meetings, in official forums, or in print. Anonymity is my friend — even if it is illusory. (I do try very hard to keep my blog anonymous, and until someone stops me in the hall and says “Hey, are you Bittersweet Girl?” I will consider myself successful.) My kind of blogging absolutely *does not* belong on my CV or in my tenure file. But, I think that there are others (Historiann, you are my key example) that I would consider to be engaged in a “professional activity” with as much value — and way more influence — than many others that do get counted.

    So, on the question of whether blogging should count, I’m with Indyanna that it’s up to the individual to put their blog forward — and accept whatever consequences it might bring. But, it won’t be me walking that plank.

  18. GayProf on 30 Nov 2009 at 5:40 pm #

    If “GayProf” were a brand, it would be in the bargain-bin by now.

    As TR also pointed out, academics are going to have grapple with on-line publishing in a more substantive way. Blogs probably won’t be the main source of on-line academic writing, but it should also open up questions about the “peer review” process and its service to our profession (Which I think has some serious problems as it exists currently, but that is another issue entirely).

  19. Historiann on 30 Nov 2009 at 6:14 pm #

    GayProf: totes in agreement on the need to address the question of on-line publishing and peer review. But, I’m sure we’re also totes in agreement that we’ll have lots of gray hair, if we have any hair left, when this happens. (Speaking for my hair only, of course.)

    BSG, Janice, and others upthread like Matt L. and Clio B.: I think BSG’s and Clio B’s comments point to the different functions that what we call “academic blogs” serve. Their blogs are totally pseudonymous and a mixture of the travails of the academic life and its effects on personal life. My blog isn’t usually focused on scholarship, but more on work issues and historically-informed political commentary. IF I were to claim it on my CV, it would be in the service category (among the holy trinity of scholarship, teaching, and service), whereas other blogs like Religion in American History that feature more original scholarly content (in the form of book reviews, etc.) could fairly be put in the scholarship category (albeit of the non-peer reviewed sort.)

    Since most of us get credit for only 15% of our annual evaluation in service, service-related blogging (community building, comiseration, sharing advice and strategies for coping with grad school/the job market/the tenure track, etc.) sure isn’t a road to tenure and/or promotion. (As Matt L. astutely notes.)

    While I value blogging, I agree with him and with others who have said that they like their blogs to be informed by their work as professionals but not to feel like work. It’s another activity/timesuck that, like everything but publishing peer-reviewed articles and books and winning grants, is undervalued in the current evaluation structures we impose on one another. No one has ever–with one exception–thanked me for an awesome book review or for a fabulous letter of recommendation. (The author of the book thanked me for “getting” her book and explaining why I thought it is important.) They’re just the things we do along the way that help contribute to the scholarly community which has nourished us in return. That’s kind of how I think about my blog: nutritious and delicious.

  20. feMOMhist on 30 Nov 2009 at 6:49 pm #

    hmm I do both. Under my academic nom I review books on a blog. Under my online identity I write about all the random stuff that does not fit into my academic writing. While that some times takes the form of snarkademics or historical reflections on teaching Early American history to Kindergarteners or commenting on “historical” toys, I do not think I would claim it as “service.”

    I claim the former, but not the latter on my CV and recontracting.

    As for the potential fall out, academia is the biggest small town in America. Every gossips about everyone. Blogs fuel the fire.

  21. Oroboros on 30 Nov 2009 at 8:14 pm #

    I didn’t think I had much to contribute today, but perhaps on the largest question of “To blog, or not to blog” there is something of relevance.

    I’m sure that some have heard by now of the so-called climategate scandal (do we still have enough reflex for a collective wince at the suffix?)

    Among those implicated in supposed academic misconduct are bloggers at realclimate.org.

    So I guess this is by way of saying that if you have serious political or religious enemies, blogging may expose you to some degree of additional vulnerability. WordPress and other blogging software have had their share of security problems over time. Using one separate password for email and another for the blog is highly recommended. Don’t use either anywhere else.

    Unfortunately in the CRU “scandal” a lot of private conversations are being taken out of context and twisted to suit a political agenda. As someone with a friend in atmospheric science, I’ve been privileged to learn a tiny bit. I’m pretty certain there isn’t a global conspiracy to put humanity under the yoke of carbon taxes in order to bring about Obama’s dictatorial socialist reign, but who knows, maybe I’m the crazy one…

  22. Historiann on 01 Dec 2009 at 9:38 am #

    People who have their panties in a wad over the hacked e-mails are preying on the public’s ignorance of how scholarship works. Yes, climate scientists–like bitter humanities types–are snarky and jerky sometimes too. But all of this hyperventilating, ZOMG!!!11!!!! Climate change is a fraud!!111!! is ridiculous. Why is there no outrage trained on the hacking of the e-mail?

    FeMOMhist–your division of blogging seems more than reasonable. But, I have to take issue with your comment about gossip: I agree that everyone does it, but no one knows anything, and random strangers on the internets know even less than nothing. Like I always say: you get what you pay for here!

  23. Oroboros on 01 Dec 2009 at 11:19 am #

    The scandal is bringing about some good discussion on the peer-review process. This blog is worth reading, as is this response. The video in the second might seem odd, but is a part of a larger Internet meme using subtitles of the same clip (Hitler loses his Xbox Account; Hitler is Disappointed in Harry Potter etc).

  24. New Kid on the Hallway on 01 Dec 2009 at 1:33 pm #

    Wait, I know that employers look people up on Facebook. (*I* look people up on Facebook!) And yes, how one *publicly* presents oneself on line is an important element to consider in hiring them. But can we confirm that employers can buy access to the “private” elements on Facebook? Because my theory has been that if I have something accessible only to friends, to people whom I approve, then it *shouldn’t* be used by *others* to judge me. (With the caveat that ADM raises, that if one of my FB friends thinks poorly of me for how I present myself there, and happens to know an employer or whatever, they have every right to tell the employer about it–I’ve laid myself open to that.) Because to me, there’s a big difference between an employer looking up someone’s *public* FB profile and seeing an update that says “I called in sick to work today because I was SOOOOOOOOOOOO blitzed last night!”, and me posting the same to my “friends” (who are all people I know–it’s not like I’m a celebrity “friending” random fans). (Not that I’m likely to post that update even to my friends, but you know, I’m not 23…)

    I know that technically speaking, probably nothing is private on the internet. But I think that if someone takes reasonable steps to preserve their privacy, those steps should be honored. (Where reasonable steps = password protecting, limiting to friends, that kind of thing; I don’t consider my pseudonym any kind of armor, and try only to say as “New Kid” things I’d say to someone’s face.)

  25. Historiann on 01 Dec 2009 at 3:00 pm #

    New Kid, you would know better how the technology works–I don’t “do” fB myself. I’ve seen other people’s fB pages through friends’ accounts over their shoulders, and of course I assume that unless you “friend” someone who’s interviewing you for a job, ze can’t see your private stuff. But, all other fB members can see the basics of your page, and all of your “friends,” which can sometimes be revealing.

    I don’t think Emma was suggesting that fB was hackable or selling private access to employers. I thought she was suggesting that whatever fB says, users should assume that anyone can see pretty much anyone. (But, I don’t know what this new thing is that she reports on, because of course, I’m not on fB for all of the reasons we’re talking about now!)

  26. Professor Zero on 01 Dec 2009 at 3:30 pm #

    Well, I lie routinely on the blog and it is for purposes of anonymization. Much of what I discuss, in a veiled way, that has to do with my departments present and past IS FALSIFIED to prevent recognizability. I give nuanced and balanced views on things IRL and under my real name.

    TR has a very conservative point of view on very many things, and gives the standard conservative advice on many topics. That’s fine but the standard conservative advice is what we learned in graduate school.

    Some peoples’ blogs really are service activities and research discussion forums; if I had such a thing, I’d have it under my professional name and I’d claim it as a kind of work.

    Of course you shouldn’t waste time blogging, or say outrageous things, or defame people, and so on. I really walk the line on these issues, and I wouldn’t advise anyone non tenured to be as daring as I am.

    But REALLY, had it been possible to see blogs of new assistant professors also out in the backwoods when I was one such, or to receive interesting feedback on questions I could ask anonymously, I’d be a better and not a worse professor and academic than I am now. So there, TR.

  27. Historiann on 01 Dec 2009 at 3:51 pm #

    Prof. Zero–thanks for your comment. I don’t think TR would disagree, she’s just offering an honest accounting of the risks. (And, she’s not in favor of people acting like jerks!)

    I was interested in your comment re: the “backwoods.” This is one powerful thing that blogs can combat: the isolation that many of us experience when we end up someplace where we’re the only expert in our field, and/or we’re isolated in other ways from the rest of the faculty (e.g. by sex, race, sexuality, etc.) As I have discussed here before, and as have you, Prof. Z: isolation is a key tool of bullies. Blogs can un-isolate us by connecting us to a group of likeminded people who are engaged in some of the same struggles.

  28. Emma on 01 Dec 2009 at 6:16 pm #

    I don’t have a link to confirm the facebook info. I heard it from somebody I considered a reliable source, but upon further research I could be wrong. If you’re worried, read Facebook’s TOS and see what they say.

    But keep in mind, there are ways to get past your privacy settings, none of which are hacking and none if which violate the TOS. How many friends have you listed, for example? If you don’t want it public, don’t put it in the public domain. Facebook is public domain no matter what “privacy” settings you use. It’s a public site accessed by millions of people. Seriously, how can anybody reasonably expect anything on the internet to remain private?

  29. New Kid on the Hallway on 01 Dec 2009 at 9:16 pm #

    FB allows you to limit your materials only to friends, not to friends of friends. (You do have to manually change this, I think.) And I’m not concerned about someone seeing how many friends I have or who they are–if that was a concern, I wouldn’t friend them. How does the number of friends I have listed negate my privacy settings?

    Technically speaking nothing on FB/the internet is private in the sense that it’s probably possible to get past a lot of privacy protections and access almost anything (though I would argue that this largely requires hacking, if someone has actually configured their privacy protections correctly. Hacking, or a court order). But that doesn’t mean those things *shouldn’t* be private. There are technological means to look into people’s houses and eavesdrop on their conversations, but that doesn’t mean people lose their right to privacy in those settings. Certain internet contexts (where the individual has gone to some effort to create an expectation of privacy) should be the same.

    (This requires people to educate themselves about how the internet works, of course, and what kinds of privacy settings they can reasonably establish.)

    FWIW, the discussion in my Computer Crime class this semester suggested statutory privacy protections exist for what someone posts on FB.

  30. Emma on 02 Dec 2009 at 8:57 am #

    How does the number of friends I have listed negate my privacy settings?

    It depends on how well you know all of those friends and on how well you understand how the service works.

    Facebook isn’t like your house. It’s more like a gigantic warehouse of 3 walled cubicles and one of those cubicles is leased to you. Not that any of these physical analogies really work.

  31. New Kid on the Hallway on 02 Dec 2009 at 2:22 pm #

    It depends on how well you know all of those friends and on how well you understand how the service works.

    Okay – can you clarify further? Because yes, if you have stuff open to “friends of friends” your material can spread further than you expect. But you can limit to friends only, excluding friends of friends.

  32. Emma on 02 Dec 2009 at 3:04 pm #

    Some people friend a lot of people on facebook, people they’ve “met” on facebook, people they don’t necessarily know, people who are not actually friends. That’s all I’m saying.

  33. Emma on 02 Dec 2009 at 3:05 pm #

    Some people are not particularly exclusive about who they friend. That’s it.

  34. Emma on 02 Dec 2009 at 3:24 pm #

    Well, no worries — everybody on Facebook is really honest.

    http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/12/02/is-your-facebook-personality-genuine/#comments

  35. Comrade PhysioProf on 02 Dec 2009 at 8:53 pm #

    Fuck facebook. I need more “friends” like I need a second asshole. I can barely keep the actual friends I already have from putting a hit out on me.

  36. New Kid on the Hallway on 02 Dec 2009 at 10:40 pm #

    But not being exclusive about who you friend isn’t a fault of Facebook per se – it’s user error.