16 Jun

tense intentions

Have you ever stopped and really thought about how you use tense in your writing?

I made a deliberate decision to just write my PhD findings however they came out. The complexity of the thinking and constructing theoretical categories and theorising was enough on its own, without having to worry about whether Melanie (pseudonym) did something or does something or whether she told me about something she does or told me about something she did. 

Added bonus on the complexity front: I still have some kind of relationship with most of my participants, and during the data collection phase I was privy to so much of their narratives that it’s really hard for me to think about them in past tense, but present tense doesn’t work when you’re talking about something specific that happened in the past. 

So I decided I’d just write. I’m a decent writer and I thought it might iron itself out as I wrote. Not so.

I’ve been having a conversation with my editor about how to handle tense and it has been surprisingly challenging to work this out.

Tense is some crazy shit.

Unsurprisingly, the Thesis Whisperer has some excellent advice on tense in literature reviews and I’ve read some other useful stuff too. (Credit to my editor for recommending these reads.)

The upshot of my reading and thinking about this is that I have to mix tenses. 

If I’m referring to something that happened during an interview or observation, I’m using past tense, cause it happened. It’s not ongoing.

Example: Melanie wrote a blog post about her experience of returning to work.

Example: In her first interview, Melanie talked about deciding out how much to disclose about the child.

When I talk about generalities, whether specific to individuals or relevant to all participants, then I’m using present tense. 

Example: Melanie ‘likes’ Facebook pages as a form of bookmarking.

Example: Participants ‘like’ Facebook pages for a number of reasons.

And finally, when it comes to theorising – which is about abstraction – and making theoretical statements about the phenomenon, I’m using present tense.

Example: Information experience in social media is immersive.

In my head, I know I’ve got to mix tenses this way. But I also find it really challenging to make blanket decisions about tense across 55,000 ish words of findings.

I don’t actually know why I decided to write on this topic. It’s probably not interesting at all. But it actually really helped me to get this straight in my head. #blogjune brings a win once again.

#blogjune 16/30

Ps. Apologies for typos. I wrote this on my phone in bed. 🙂

15 Jun

my name is kate, and i am [not] an impostor impostor

I find myself talking about impostor syndrome a lot. I talk to my students about it. I talk to other PhD candidates about it. I talk to my colleagues about it. I talk to people I informally mentor about it. I talk to myself about it (not in a crazy way, but in a ‘I’m not listening to you, devil on my shoulder’ way).

Impostor syndrome is, I believe, more prevalent in women, and I think that’s one reason I spend so much time thinking and talking about it: my professional field (librarianship) is female dominated. I’m also an academic, and impostor syndrome is rife amongst the ranks of female academics.

I doubt myself every single day. I doubt the quality of my thinking. I doubt whether I have the right or the cred or the goods to say the things I want to say. I doubt my capacity as a researcher. I doubt my capacity as a teacher.

Case in point: today I found out I’ve been nominated for my university’s teacher of the year award. My first thought: I won’t win it. My second thought: I wonder if I’m actually a good teacher or if I’m just likeable? ‘I’m a really good teacher and I deserve that acknowledgment,’ said no woman ever (or perhaps: said no Kate ever). But today I made a conscious choice to take it on as positive reinforcement, because my inner impostor is particularly strong right now.

When I feel like I need to put my foot down about something (like giving advice – solicited or unsolicited – to someone more senior than me, where I feel like my expertise is needed) I agonise over whether I should say anything. Then I agonise over how to say it. Then I agonise over whether I said it as well as I could have. I agonise over whether I’ll be perceived as an upstart. Then I worry that I went a step too far and start thinking maybe I should preemptively back pedal before the shit hits the fan. Then I sit on my hands or bite my fingernails while I wait to see what happens. Invariably, it’s fine. It ends up being a non-event. My advice is appreciated, or it starts a much-needed conversation, or it’s noted but not taken on board. But I still go through the whole ‘who do you think you are, getting all up in people’s faces’ thing.

I think this is all made worse by the fact I am young and I am a woman. Maybe those two things aren’t even on the radar for the people I interact with. Maybe it’s just me who perceives these two things to be a problem (although I know in some cases it’s not just in my head).

I am not shy; I apparently appear to be very confident; and I am opinionated. So people are usually surprised when I tell them I feel like an impostor too (also, when I tell them I’m an introvert, but that’s a different story). But impostor syndrome can strike anyone. Even those of us who look like we’ve got it together and we’re completely confident and back the shiz out of ourselves. You can be loud and obnoxious about your opinions (as I often am) and still be quaking in your impostor boots. (Also, the impostor boots limit the loudness and obnoxiousness. Can you imagine how annoying I’d be without them? [See, I assume being more vocal means being annoying. Because who would want to hear more from this IMPOSTOR!])

And it effects everything.

Sometimes (most of the time), I doubt my capacity or my right to blog. Right now, I doubt my capacity to get the tone of this post right. I question the choice I’m making to be public about my insecurity. I worry that I’m an impostor impostor, because surely people will read this and think, ‘Pah! You don’t even rate on the impostor scales. Get down off that soapbox and make room for the *real* impostors’.

That’s what this post was really meant to be about: impostor syndrome and blogging. It was meant to be a reflection on a comment someone made on a recent blog post I wrote. The post asked whether people actually care about robust professional discourse, or whether I was off in lala land harping on about something no one else really gives a shit about. And a commenter who I have a great deal of respect for as a professional and a person noted that impostor syndrome can stop people from blogging or getting involved in professional discussions.

I don’t think I’ve ever explicitly made this connection before, in my own head. The connection between the bazillions of blog posts I’ve got sitting in draft, the fact that I’m not sure I’ve got the right or the goods to say the things I feel like I want or need to say, my concern that these posts might be really shit and they’re going to follow me around forever if I hit publish, and impostor syndrome.

Impostor syndrome can be a gag. It can cause us to sit on ideas. It stops us from blurting out the things we should blurt out. It holds us back as individuals and it holds us back as professionals and it holds our professional discourse back. It undermines our confidence in our own thinking and our capacity to make a contribution to professional conversation.

noun_143497So let’s just flip the bird at our inner impostors and hit publish, like I’m doing right now. And I’m not even going to read back over this for sense-checking or typo-checking and I’m going to be proud of every error you find in this post and every flawed bit argumentation because the single most important thing here is that I doubt this post, I doubt the wisdom of being publicly vulnerable, I’m worried about how men might respond to my gendering of impostor syndrome, I’m worried about using an icon that represents giving the finger, and I’m not even sure I’ve actually said anything worth reading here, but I’m hitting publish anyway. And that’s what matters.

#blogjune 15/30

13 Jun

does anybody actually care? blogging and professional discourse

I’ve spent the first couple of weeks of June thinking and blogging about professional discourse and whether we are missing something as a result of a significant downturn in blogging on topics related to the library and information professions. (I think we are.)

The response has been… interesting. Some people have responded on their own blogs to say yes, they would be keen to contribute to a collaborative blog on professional issues. Others have retweeted tweets about my posts, suggesting there’s some interest. A very few people have commented on any of my posts.

Today I planned to share a sign up form to gather together a group of people who might be interested in contributing to a collaborative blog designed to ramp up informal professional discourse. But I’m increasingly thinking that maybe I’m out on a limb here, and that there aren’t many others who share my concerns.

noun_49812So instead, I want to ask you: do you care?

Do you care about robust professional discourse? As a professional, does it matter to you? (It’s okay if it doesn’t. This isn’t about judgement, but about me understanding whether there’s a need for this or whether I’m talking crap.)

What do you see as your role in professional conversations?

Are you a reader, consumer, thinker who is content to watch, observe, consider without getting involved? Are you a reader, consumer, thinker who would like to get involved but is hesitant to for some reason? (And what is the reason?)

Do you want to provoke conversation? Do you want to be a conversation starter? Do you want to share ideas?

Do you want to actively participate in discussions that other people start?

Would you be likely to comment on posts?

Would you even read them?

Are there professional topics that get you fired up? What are they? What do you care about? Are you prepared to put your money (or your time) where your mouth is and contribute to conversations on these topics?

I still wholeheartedly believe that blogging is not dead, but maybe professional blogging in the LIS space *is* dead, and maybe I should leave well enough alone.

What do you think? Do we care? Do *you* care? Do your colleagues care? Or should I just get down off this soap box?

#blogjune 13/30

11 Jun

what i’m reading now: the fun edition

noun_63245I was going to make a concerted effort to get back into reading fiction this year, but it hasn’t happened. But that doesn’t mean I’m not reading, nor does it mean I’m not reading for pleasure.

So here’s a run down on what I’m reading for fun at the moment, aside from all the #blogjune posts, that is! I’ll cover my professional reading in a later post.

Blogs

Blogging is *so* not dead.

Everyday, real people fashion blogs

I learned about a lot of really great blogs from my PhD project participants, many of them fashion blogs. Happy days! Here are the ones I read religiously:

  • Styling You is my fav fashion blog, and I also love her beauty posts. I owe Nikki Parkinson for introducing me to brands like Bohemian Traders and for inspiring my 5 minute makeup routine. I pretty much use Nikki’s posts as the source for most of my clothing purchases (along with her daily Instagram #everydaystyle pics) and I love her monthly new beauty products posts.
  • Style & Shenanigans does a mean luxe to less feature and I love her colour of the week posts. Her colour of the week this week is red and the funnel neck jacket in this post is taunting me. Taunting me I say.
  • Sonia Styling is another everyday fashion blogger but she injects some lifestyle content too.

Interior design blogs

  • Apartment Therapy, including a recent obsession with carefully reviewing every one of the 170 entries in the Small Cool contest. I want to move to New York and live in a tiny apartment and make myself a cool tiny space. (Not really.)
  • Emily Henderson just might be the coolest person in the whole world and I love love love her aesthetic.

Lifestyle blogs

  • Brit & Co. for a bit of everything, from craft to fashion to beauty to design.

Sewing blogs

I read a lot of sewing blogs, but these are three of my favourites. It wasn’t easy to keep it to three!

  • Craftiness is Not Optional. Kids’ clothes galore made for and modelled by an adorable brood of little girls. She also sews for herself, but since I’m yet to sew myself any garments, I’ve tended to get more use out of her kids’ clothes posts.
  • Made by Rae. She makes great patterns for kids and women. I’ve only sewn one of her kids patterns – the big butt baby pants – but I’m super keen to try some of her adult patterns.
  • Sew Sweetness is a new find for me. The author just ran a series called Dress Up Party where a whole bunch of great sewing bloggers tested and posted about garment patterns.

News

News isn’t necessarily fun, but it’s not really work either… My main news source is The Conversation. It’s the one place on the web where I don’t feel like banging my head on my desk when I read the comments (okay, sometimes I still want to slap my hand on my forehead, but it’s more like an urge to give it a moderate tap, rather than slam my head into something hard).

Books

I’ve got just one book on the go at the moment: The life-changing magic of tidying by Marie Kondo. This book has apparently got a cult following and reading it and implementing the systems she proposes is apparently going to fix my life.

So what are you reading?

I’m keen to add some more fodder to my blogroll in particular. I’m looking for more lifestyle, craft and most importantly, interior design. Where are the good Australian interior design blogs? I get a bit sick of seeing products I can’t have <pout> so would love some Australian suggestions.

#blogjune 11/30

10 Jun

what are the big professional issues we should be blogging about?

noun_89109So in the last week or so, I’ve written a couple of posts about professional blogging. And there’s been some interest in kicking off a group blog that focuses on professional issues in the library and information professions.

Over the next couple of weeks, I want to get a conversation going about this and perhaps even get a new collaborative blog off the ground – or at least get plans in place to do that.

I think it makes sense to start by talking about the topics we need to be engaging with; the stuff you really want to be reading – and hopefully writing! – about.

So this post is more a bunch of questions for you than content from me.

What are the critical issues in library and information organisations right now? What things things interest you? Where is critical discourse needed?

And what’s happening outside libraries that we should have our eyes on? What can we learn from other industries? What are the big issues for libraries’ parent organisations?

In later posts, I’m going to ask you whether you’re interested in blogging with us (not sure who the ‘us’ is yet!) and who you’d like to hear from (so we can go out and tap people on the shoulder to contribute). But for now, let’s talk content. These could be general, broad ideas, Big Issues, very specific topics, or stories you’re busting to tell.

I’ll start the conversation with two things that are at the front of my mind: one broad, and one narrower:

  • Changing educational paradigms in higher education and the impact on libraries (think MOOCs, connected learning etc).
  • How can public libraries better support parents in engaging very young kids in reading (because have you seen school readers lately? It’s no wonder our Miss 6 has no desire to read!).

Please add your thoughts in the comments. It would be great to scope this collaborative blog thang with a good idea of where the focus should be initially.

#blogjune 10/30

08 Jun

outsource all the things

Since everyone is crazy busy these days, I thought I’d write some posts about some of the things I do to save time and be more efficient. I’m calling them productivity ninja tips, and I’ll be cross posting some of them on my teaching and learning blog, too. Today’s post is about outsourcing.

Public domain image courtesy Pascal via flickr

Public domain image courtesy Pascal via flickr

So let’s get started with outsourcing. I’m rather fond of outsourcing.

I try to increase my efficiency by outsourcing as many of the things that don’t need to be done by me – i.e. that don’t require me to use my brain or be physically present – as I possibly can. Sometimes these are things I really want to do (like making the kids’ birthday party invites) but that I know I will obsess over and spend way too much time on.

I also outsource the shit jobs I don’t want to do.

Here are some of the things I outsource, why I outsource them, and what you can expect to pay for these services.

Cleaning

I have a cleaner and I will never, ever not have a cleaner, even if I have to give up buying coffee to fund it. There is nothing better than coming home from work to a clean house. So good. Having a cleaner costs $30 an hour and it takes three hours to clean our four bedroom house once a fortnight. This includes a lot of dusting because we have a lot of ‘stuff’ around the house. The dusting is important because I have bad allergies. We do very little in between, and she manages to squeeze in things like cleaning the fans, doing the skirting boards and cornices, and cleaning the oven at intervals.

Transcription

I outsource transcription of research interviews. Have you ever transcribed an hour of audio? Me neither, and I don’t plan on ever trying. I am so slow at transcription that it makes absolutely no sense for me to spend my time doing it. I know some researchers find it’s important for them to transcribe their own interviews to really feel like they’re across the data. I’m fortunate to have a good memory and that, combined with written reflections I make straight after each interview, means that transcripts are really all I need. And I can always go back to the audio if I need to. I recently used Interim Business Solutions to transcribe a chunk of my thesis that I dictated while driving from Brisbane to Toowoomba. They did a great job and turned it around super fast. Transcription prices vary depending on a variety of factors like audio quality, number of speakers, and turn around time. You generally pay per audio minute.

Transcription is not just good for research either. A little while back, I paid to have someone transcribe all of the mini lecture videos I have made for my teaching. This meant I had scripts to work from and allowed me to easily edit and update the content without starting from scratch. I think it cost me about $700 to get all my mini lectures transcribed for two units. I’ve since used and updated the scripts twice.

Artwork

kate2 (1)This post was actually prompted by the job I’m currently outsourcing: creation of avatars for the participants in my PhD study. This one has a back story. Do you know about Fiverr? The principle of Fiverr is that you pay a fiver for everything. I LOVE Fiverr. I also love a particular artist on there who has done quite a bit of work for me. For Christmas, I got avatars made for my team, based on photos I sent her and ideas I gave her for what I wanted them to wear and be holding in their pics. That’s me, over to the left there, complete with lifelike tiny waist and great pins. Thank you, Anastasiia! I found her via Corin, who had an awesome avatar drawn and posted it on Instagram. Fortunately I caught her before she got really busy and increased her prices (every cent of which she deserves, btw), so I managed to get 14 characters drawn at a ridiculous price. Her current rate is still extremely reasonable, with a photo likeness avatar costing $45.

JacquiRight, so that’s the back story, and now onto the current job. My research is heavily grounded in my participants’ narratives and it’s incredibly important to me that I retain their individual presences in the narrative I’ve built around the data. I’m introducing the participants by presenting a social media profile for each person, and Anastasiia is drawing an avatar for each participant. These are cartoons without photo likeness, because obviously I can’t show my participants’ faces, even in cartoon format. I’ve given the artist a brief that includes something that makes me think of the particular participant. At right: the participant I’m calling Jacqui (pseudonym).

My only concern with services like Fiverr is sometimes the prices are really low and I’m uncomfortable paying them. It feels exploitative. For this latest batch, I’ve insisted on paying more than I was quoted. She did the first four, and I asked for some changes, so I have insisted on paying more again for the remaining avatars to make up for the extra work.

Etsy is a great source for getting custom work done, too, like kids’ birthday party invites. I’m definitely capable of doing this work myself, but I tend to spend way too much time on it because it’s fun and I’m a perfectionist. In previous years, I’ve picked a design, supplied a photo and asked for customisations, and you get back a good looking file for $25. This year, I bought a whole bunch of graphic elements on Etsy and then made the invites myself. The graphic elements I bought cost about $15 or $20 in total and included cartoon character versions of our favourite Star Wars and Frozen people, as well as backgrounds.

Web work

I’ve also used Fiverr to get a basic stylesheet created when I didn’t have time to build it myself. My students wanted one for an assignment. It wasn’t part of the assignment, but they wanted to be able to see what their HTML looked like styled, and I can’t justify spending hours on something that isn’t actually part of the assignment. I can, however, justify paying someone else to make one. It wasn’t perfect and I had to do some editing, but for $5 (or the $15 I insisted on paying because $5 is ridiculous) it was pretty damn good. $15 is still crazy cheap but I feel okay about it because I had basically no design parameters and was happy for them to reuse something existing.

Freelancer is another great option for getting a whole bunch of stuff done, though I’m tending to go for Fiverr more these days. When I put a job on Freelancer I find the process of choosing an offer really overwhelming. I’ve used Freelancer mostly to get WordPress themes edited when I want to tweak a theme a bit but don’t have time to mess around. My last Freelancer job involved some CSS and PHP work on a WordPress theme – probably about an hour of work – and cost about $50, which is pretty damn good.

There’s also a guy I’ve had help me with moving websites around, who I’m about to contact again about another job. I found this guy because he makes a WordPress plugin for preparing sites to move servers and he’s done a few jobs for me (including moving a conference website). Again, I’m capable of doing this myself, but I’m slow and it’s more efficient to pay someone. The last move he did for me was a reasonably complex move involving a stack of email accounts moves too and it cost me €80.

Life

I ‘outsource’ bill paying and finance management to my sister. Granted, she doesn’t get paid, but this is a division of labour thing. We trade off on other things.

What I don’t outsource

As far as work goes, I don’t outsource core business stuff that I should be doing myself or that I should be looking for my organisation to cover. I tend to outsource the things that are ‘extras’, or the things that are part of my broader professional life, like maintaining my personal professional websites. It’s just like delegating to one of my team, except it’s a broader team.

I know I’m lucky

This feels like a really middle class, self important post to write, but I think it’s actually important to fess up to how I manage competing priorities because it’s not easy and it has personal impact. Working the way I do and at the pace I do has a cost. That cost can be time, or it can be money, or it can be both. I am by no means flash for cash, but I’m even less flash for time. Sometimes I feel a bit guilty that I can afford to outsource. But the thing is, I make trade offs. If I can claw back a few hours of writing time by paying $50 for some WordPress tweaks, that’s a good trade off for me. It’s about using my time for the things I’m really good at or that I need to do myself, or for the really important things like getting to school assembly when someone is student of the week. And I trade off on things like going away for holidays to fund some of my outsourcing. I’d rather get my house cleaned once a fortnight than go away for a week every year. For realz. Because the cleaning has a much bigger impact on my day to day.

Over to you!

I am currently looking for a designer to pretty up the diagrams for my thesis. If you have any suggestions, I’d be grateful to have them!

What do you outsource?

#blogjune 8/30

07 Jun

blogging is dead… except it isn’t

Yesterday, I posted over on Libraries Interact about the state of the biblioblogosphere, which is the hipster term for the complex of blogs written by library and information professionals about professional issues. In the post, I reflected on the noticeable decrease in robust critical commentary and discourse on professional issues.

As I wrote that post, I thought a lot about my own blogging and blogging more generally. I wrote the post in response to a few stimuli, one of which was a conversation on an elist for admins on a collaborative blog. In that conversation, someone asked whether blogging is dead, and someone else asked if maybe the giddy pace of change has slowed and the impetus for blogging has consequently died off. We also mused about the fact that many of us have broader, more diverse interests these days. This conversation prompted me to think about my own use of blogs and my own blogging practices, so I’m sharing these thoughts here in this post.

Blogging is dead

Except it isn’t.

We’re not talking about blogs as a container so much any more (which is really an indicator of how mainstream they are), but blogging as a tool to push out serialised content is still huge. Look at the big magazine-style platforms, like The Conversation, Mamamia, and BubHub (yes, I just put The Conversation in the same category as Mamamia. I know. Scandalous!). These sites all run on blog posts. We just don’t necessarily talk about them being blogs. This semester I asked my undergrad IT students whether they use RSS. Two of 60+ do. Many of the others didn’t know what it was. I asked them if they read blogs, and they said no. Then I started talking to them about how they engage with content on the web, and I realised they *are* reading blogs, or engaging with syndicated, serialised content. They just don’t necessarily know that’s what they’re doing, or care about the container the content comes in, or the technology that delivers it to them.

I am a huge reader of blogs. I read blogs daily. I have a well organised subscription list in Feedly and I have a morning routine where I sit down with my coffee and I go through the latest posts. I cherry pick, reading the most interesting ones first, and invariably coming back to some of the others later when I’m procrastinating. I read everyday fashion blogs, sewing blogs, educational technology blogs, technology blogs, news blogs, education blogs, interior design blogs, and craft blogs. I read blogs written by friends, a couple of whom happen to be librarians, but I don’t read them for their library content. They are categorised in Feedly as ‘Library lovelies’, which probably tells you a lot about why I read them – they’re lovely blogs, written by lovely people whose lives I like to keep up to date with, rather than blogs about librarianship.

I’m just not reading blogs about librarianship at all, and not for lack of interest. Rather, it’s because there just aren’t that many great or active ones any more.

Closed for business

I shut up shop on my blog Virtually a Librarian about the same time I established this one. I started that blog as a very green new graduate and blogged sporadically there for five or six years. I shut up shop for a number of reasons: because my thinking had moved on and I didn’t really identify with who I was in that space anymore; because I found it challenging to blog and produce research articles at the same time; because I started my PhD and my brain filled up with that; because the twins came along and my life dramatically changed.

But not for lack of things to say…

I didn’t stop blogging because I had nothing to blog about. On the contrary, I’ve got a long list of topics for blog posts that I never get around to writing. My interests have diversified but I’ve still got plenty to say about professional issues, and plenty to say about related topics like educational technology, learning innovation, creativity and creative practice, leadership, social technologies, and my research. I’ve also got stuff to say about my personal life – things I want to share about what I get up to away from work.

I just rarely get round to saying any of it.

And I don’t think it’s true that the biblioblogosphere has died off because there’s nothing to talk about. Libraries are operating in a time of enormous change. In the good old days, there was a lot of blogging about social technologies, and yes, there was an invigorating, exciting and urgent vibe around technology and innovation, and that fuelled blogging. But there is *so much* happening in the library and information professions right now that we should be pulling apart, inspecting, interrogating, critiquing.

There is stuff to blog about. It’s just not happening.

And not because I’ve moved on…

Obviously I’m no longer working in libraries, but I am teaching librarians-in-the-making, and I am invested in the profession. I used to blog about front line service issues and about technology in libraries, because those were the things I was dealing with on a daily basis. My interests are more diverse, but they are still relevant to libraries and with a bit more professional maturity under my belt, I’ve probably got more useful things to say than I did back when I was blogging about Library 2.0 (including about how much I hate that term). I have a broader perspective on the industry, having seen it from a different angle for the last five years.

I’m still thinking about and working on things that have relevance to the profession. I’m just not blogging about it.

Now I was never a great blogger, but I think I can still call some of the great bloggers from the giddy naughties my ‘contemporaries’. It’s true that some of those people have moved on somewhat too, but they haven’t strayed that far either. They’ve moved up, moved into academia, and moved around, but they’re still hanging around libraries and they still have useful insights we could all benefit from.

… But because I’m poor

Time poor and thinking-space poor.

I know I’m not alone in having a busy work life. But I’m often surprised by people’s perceptions about academic workloads. I think there’s a real misconception about what we do, the volume of work we are lumped with, and the pressure there is to perform (particularly for people like me who go from contract to contract). I’m also constantly met with incredulity when I say I work from home because I get more done. People who don’t work from home imagine it’s either a lovely life of pottering around the house or an enormous challenge to fight off distractions. The reality is I don’t go to the office because I’ve got too much to do. Working from homes saves me hours of commute time and forces me to rationalise the time I spend in meetings. Anyway, I digress. The point is this: You know that image of academics squirrelled away in their cozy offices, reading and writing and just thinking? It’s a ginormous myth. To be a successful academic – to establish a solid academic career in the current climate – you have to do a lot more than have a strong research output and churn out good publications. You’ve got to have your fingers in multiple research pies, because while the applied, industry based research is fun and necessary, you still need to create an intellectual footprint that has value beyond the profession. You’ve also got to be an excellent teacher, which is a *lot* of work, and when you love teaching, you tend to spend even more time on it. It’s also a time sink because it’s so incredibly satisfying, and you can see immediate payoffs through student success. Then there’s the service component of the job: providing service to the university through committee memberships, advisory groups and leadership activities, and to industry through similar external activities. To do what I do – teach in and coordinate a program for an applied discipline – you’ve also got to be entrepreneurial, plugged into industry, and visible both in the profession and in academia. On top of the run-of-the-mill teaching, research and service, I run a program of continuing professional education events, I take on consultancy work, I do heaps of marketing by stealth, I spend a significant amount of time on pastoral care, I get involved in external engagement programs… And the list goes on.

I used to carve out time outside of work hours to blog, but the reality these days is that I’m working significantly more than I used to – more than twice as much as I was when I kicked off my first blog, and approaching twice as much as I did when I started this blog. If I was to actively blog again, I’d have to trade off somewhere, and right now I’d be trading blogging for sleep, and I gotta tell you, I am absolutely useless unless as I get a solid seven hours sleep. I can do all-nighters and consecutive nights (even weeks) on minimal sleep, but only when I’m under pressure, and it has consequences in terms of the quality of my work and my well being.

I’m suffering from another type of poverty, too: I’m thinking-space poor. My brain has a limited capacity and it is maxed out. It’s a tricky balance to pump out good content for a blog and good research publications simultaneously. I used to think blogging would eat up all my words and I wouldn’t have any left for academic publications. The reality is that the words are plentiful, but the room in my head is not, so I find it tricky to carve out the time to think and write anything that’s not explicitly work related. I am fortunate to be a really fast writer. (Please universe, I need to live that out today to finish this thesis chapter!) But sense-making takes time. Getting my thoughts together, thinking them through, takes time and writing and drafting and editing and more writing. Take this post for example, and the one I made yesterday on Libraries Interact. I’ve been thinking about these posts and working on them on and off for about eight days. (It was supposed to be one post, but it ended up ridiculously long. There’s another reason I struggle to find time to blog: I sense-make by writing, which means I write *heaps* and then I find it really hard to edit it down, so I never hit publish.) And then there’s the (internal) pressure to get it just right, to craft beautiful posts that I won’t regret making (you really have no idea how long I’ve spent on this post, and I know I need to cut it back even though I’ve split into two, but I’m going to have to embrace the Cult of Done here or it’s never gonna make it out of draft).

Time poor + think poor + inner perfectionist = terrible blogger.

Which leads me to…

In my world, blogs aren’t dead, and in fact I don’t think they’re dead at all, anywhere. I read them, and I think you probably do too, even if you don’t necessarily think of them as blogs.

The biblioblogosphere isn’t dead either, but it is a little bit sick and I’d really like to see that change. I think we need ongoing professional conversations and I think we need blogs to support this. I also think that as an academic, I have a responsibility to contribute to professional discourse, and I think I’ve got stuff to contribute related to teaching and learning that’s relevant for the profession, too. I also think senior members of the profession have a responsibility to contribute to professional discourse, and I would like to see more of these people blogging. And *you* have stuff to say, even if you don’t think you do.

A return to collaborative blogging?

I’m up for getting back into blogging about libraries, but I don’t want to do it here, because this is my personal space. I also know I can’t sustain a solo blog related to the LIS profession because I have other foci for my blogging, too (namely, my teaching and learning blog). But I’m totally up for collaborative blogging; I’m up for helping to coordinate a collaborative blog; and I’m up for actively calling on academics and senior members of the profession to contribute, too.

Is anybody with me?