Friday, January 06, 2012

A Return to Blogging (?)

I started this blog in June of 2002, nine and half years ago, and for the first few years it was great fun. The "blogsphere" itself was a lot of fun then, much like USENET back in the late 1980s: although a lot of people were participating, there was an intimacy to discussions and the trolls, spammers and hustlers hadn't yet taken over. Surprising people would reply to posts and the debates we got into could be quite interesting. I derived a lot of intellectual energy from Wormtalk.

But as time went on blogging became less fun. The advent of group blogs and monetized blogs and then group monetized blogs made individual blogs less personal.  The movement from blogging to FB and Twitter reduced the number of interactions that happened on the blog itself, and the further development of coterie blogs with their hierarchies and cross-linked promotions further reduced the element of spontaneity that had been so much fun.  Sometime in 2008 or 2009 I found myself dreading posting to Wormtalk and that, coupled with the effort that Anglo-Saxon Aloud required, saw me significantly reduce my posting of new material. Then came the economic crisis, when pretty much all my energies department chair energy was spent trying to shuffle around resources so that no one's jobs (we were successful, but at great cost of time and effort). I thought I would get back to blogging when I was on sabbatical, but during that time I ended up teaching anyway (we gave up the funding for a replacement for me in order to keep a colleague in a different time period) and sabbatical turned out to be more work than regular teaching. Simultaneously Scott Nokes stopped regularly updating his Unlocked-Wordhoard,  which had become a significant source on inspiration, and I got some push-back from people about blogging while a department chair. Then in August 2010 the "Terrible Events" happened to members of my extended family (P.S.: At that time I de-friended pretty much every academic I know on Facebook.  It was nothing personal. I just didn't want family things spreading all over the place, and didn't trust myself not to slip in managing different FB privacy levels for different groups of people). So in 2011 I posted a total of 3 times. Wormtalk was effectively defunct.

But although I find that I dislike, a lot, many things about the internet circa 2012, I miss sharing ideas in the more immediate form of blogging (as opposed to journal articles that take two years to appear and four to see a response).  So I am going to give Wormtalk another whirl and see if I can get back some of the immediacy, energy and pleasure that was so apparent in the "Golden Age of Blogging" from 2003-2007. I plan to talk about Anglo-Saxon, Tolkien, our Lexomics research, the job market, graduate school, teaching and learning.  We'll see what happens.


dougfort said...

Glad to see you back

Theophrastus said...

I'm very, very happy that you will be blogging again.

First, you had a lot of funny, entertaining posts here.

Second, I appreciated getting your professional news (such as on your books, recording projects, etc.) I guess that I am a Drout-fan.

I'm pretty cynical about FB (for the reasons you mention -- the different levels of interaction -- and just the general level of phoniness and exaggerated emotion) but I still would like to know more about what you are doing.

Even if you only use this blog to announce new papers or books or recordings, it will still be useful to me. And if you continue with some of your insightful or funny posts, it will be all the better.

Hans J. said...

Great to see your return as well. You are at the top of my Google Reader - in my AAA folder. I look forward to reading it more often - all the best in the new year!

Steve Muhlberger said...

I think you will find that there's still a role for the blog. Why else has mine passed one million page views? I think your past high quality posts are still being read, and your future ones will find an audience -- one spread over time, not necessarily all at once.

Steve Muhlberger said...

Read any good books lately?

John Cowan said...


As I said before, blogging is now a neutral personal publishing platform; it is what individuals choose to make of it.

Evan F. said...

Dear Professor,

I am glad you will be posting your thoughts and ideas. I will definitely be watching. My entire family recently listened to your course "Rings, Swords, and Monsters" on a long driving vacation between Christmas and New Year's and we really enjoyed it and learned a lot. I see from your planned topics that there will be a lot to learn and be engaged with here. I have only started to mine the information in your old posts.

I am presently a government lawyer and adjunct professor, but began university life as an athropology student. Graduate school ended badly, and I have a complex relationship with my memories of and participation in academia.

I am a lover of Tolkien, fantasy and science fiction, role playing, and lots of stuff you talk about with great though and perception. I really look forward to learning from you, and I appreciate the generosity of your time in engaging in the wacky crazy blogosphere so that random folks like me can benefit from you outside of the academic structure.

Just to add one other random comment to my stream of consciousness post is that my family also recently saw the Anglo Saxon Hoard exhibit at the National Geographic in Washington, D.C. (something again the whole family enjoyed), and after hearing your lectures it did make me wonder how the analysis of the thousands of artifacts from that find impact, if at all, your work on the Anglo Saxons.

Coincidentally, we plan to listen to your Anglo Saxon course next.

Best regards-Evan

Michelle Ziegler said...

No one can replace Unlocked Wordhoard, but I do a round-up of early medieval, science and history of science posts. There is a lot of bioarchaeology. Here is the latest edition

Are you still working with the sheep skin DNA project?

Nichim said...

I'm very glad you are back. Best wishes for a wonderful 2012 and thank you for all you do.

quixotic said...

So excited and happy to see new posts again!
You have been missed.
Hope and pray that your family member is recovering from the incidents.

The Overgrown Hobbit said...

So glad to have you back.

squire said...

I am glad to have checked in! I look forward to your thoughts this year!

MKB said...

Glad you are back. I like reading your blog.

Mac said...

Nice to see you back. I've missed your posts.

Liz Ditz said...

I too hope you get your blogging mojo back. I miss reading your thoughts!

The only reason my daughter considered Wheaton was your blog, after all! (She ended up not applying, but then again, she ended up back in California at the University of San Francisco after three semesters at Clark.)

I will look forward to having my brain stretched in unusual ways!

Anonymous said...

Just want to add to the others who are happy you are back.

STAG said...

I find this to be a great blog to lurk upon. I rarely think I can contribute anything though, and so I don't. The company here is too august to allow me to shine.
I would not DO a blog if nobody was able to make comments on it, although I would do a blog even if nobody ever read it but myself...for much the same justification as keeping a diary.
Therefore I will add my name to the list of people who are glad for a glimpse into the mind of Wormtalk and Slugspeak. If only because I love the name.