Mark Carrigan is a prolific blogger. He’s just finishing off a part-time PhD in the Department of Sociology at the University of Warwick, but is also a research associate at the LSE’s Public Policy Group. He describes himself as a sociologist and an academic technologist. In the second Social Scholar seminar Mark explained what use blogs can be as part of a research agenda, what different types of blogs there are, and what you need to get started.
The first session of the Social Scholar looked at why blogging is a good idea from the point of view of an institution. Our second session reversed that by looking at blogging from the researcher’s point of view. This was a specific goal for our first two sessions – to examine one form of social media (in this case blogs) from different viewpoints and in terms of alternative agendas. In this post we archive the video from the second session along with a short summary, and a Storify ‘archive’ of the Twitter feeds.
Mark Carrigan has been blogging for about a decade and has a view as to why a researcher would want to blog. It’s not a straightforward view either, as there are multiple reasons and not all will apply to all researchers. His way of looking at blogs is to use them as an online public-facing notebook for his research. Mark will pin up on his blog ideas, thoughts, and interests. The blog allows him to frame his thoughts because he knows that they need to be written up in a proper form as they will be read by others.
To illustrate his point Mark highlighted several quotations from other bloggers. One said that “I find it helps break down my ideas/research into smaller pieces” another added “I know what I say is going to be seen. It makes me think about how I use words, how I make mental connections”. Mark argues that just knowing someone will be reading your text makes you think more carefully about what it is you are trying to say. That makes you a better researcher and might even save time in the long run.
How much do you release on a blog especially when you plan to publish as a book or article? Worry about ideas stolen #socialscholar
Carrigan answers: publishers like this sort of thing -free advertising for the published work. #socialscholar
– Taken from the twitter feed
In the second half of the session Mark talked through various examples of how blogs are used by researchers. He began with his own to illustrate his earlier points. The Sociological Life draws the various strands of his research together. It allows him to talk about things he is preparing for a book, note down his thoughts in a cognitive fashion, and to present, online, an enhanced profile website that tell people exactly who he is, where he comes from, what skills and interests he has, and how he can be contacted. Mark explained that he uses his blog as a replacement for the traditional institutional profile page.
The second example Mark gave is the Cyborgology blog. This site explores digital technology but does not do so through short informal blog posts, but provides essay length posts. It is a type of online journal using a blog platform, and it’s proved highly successful.
As an example of a group run blog Mark next cited the Orgtheory blog. This site produces short posts by ten experts dealing with sociology. Another example is My Place which is a group blog examining issues of memory, youth, political legacy and civic engagement. Mark explained that these sites provided an interesting mix of posts, created with a minimal amount of work for each individual attached to them.
In preparation for the Digital Change workshop last year, Mark put together a set of fantastic resources for anyone thinking about opening up a blog. Called ‘Blogging for Researchers’ the site contains a series of articles, video clips, and much more. It’s well worth a look.
The third Social Scholar seminar is just around the corner and you are warmly invited to join us. Anne Alexander will be talking at the Social Scholar in room 246, Senate House (University of London) at 1pm-2pm on Wednesday 4 December 2013. The seminar is free and open to all with coffee & tea provided. Please feel free to join us. We will also be tweeting from the session on @SASNews using the hashtag #socialscholar.
To learn more about the public events held by the School of Advanced Study and our other activities please go to our website SAS.ac.uk.