When I first started this blog three or so years ago, I called it “Emma’s Research and Television Blog.” The idea was that I would write about my main professional interests and about life, obliquely, in the form of television critiques. You see, I love T.V. It’s how I unwind, turn my brain off, and escape. I’m not unusual, and I was hoping that peppering my research posts with some pop-culture commentary would help increase readership. I had a silly justification for both Research and Television, which you can read here, but more important was my justification for blogging, which I’ll reproduce here:
Before the internet, academics and intellectuals shared their musings and worked out problems via letter writing. Read any math “paper” before 1920 and you will notice the casual tone and seeming lack of formality in the notation. These letters were not public, but they were not exactly private either. I see today’s blogs as an extension of that letter-writing tradition.
Now, not everyone will agree with me. For some, blogging is more formal – it functions as a compendium of advice and pithy explanation, or it is an avenue to push work that may not have a home elsewhere. For others, it is more informal. This blog is somewhere between open letters to no one and what might otherwise end up lost in a research notebook or in casual conversation in front of a whiteboard.
To make blogging truly worth it, it helps to have comments. I’ve noticed that some graduate students turn off comments in their blogs and prefer to hold the conversation over email. I welcome comments over email, but would prefer if they happened in the open, where others can participate, if they wish.
So, please enjoy, and be in touch.
At the time I started this blog, I did not want to include things like ruminations on feminism, or really anything having to with feelings, challenges graduate students face, or life in general. I wanted to be a “winner” and have a public face that would assure people that I was serious about research and solely focused on the tasks at hand. Ideally, I wanted to have a blog like Andrew Gelman’s, in the sense that my professional friends would chime in and comment and help contribute to a research community.
Three years later, and I am not sure I have much in the way of readership. I certainly have few commenters, and my most trafficked post has nothing to do with research. I don’t really promote this blog and generally spend very little time on social media. It’s occurred to me over the years that most of my blog posts have little interest to the average potential graduate collaborator (whom I suppose have been the primary audience I’d had in mind). It’s also occurred to me that, with a potentially embarressing number of years of graduate school under my belt, I should probably start talking about the realities we face in graduate school.
During times of duress, I’ve Googled questions about my situation in an attempt to find some solace, or someone who has gone through something similar. Maybe it’s precisely because I’m pretty sure this blog is mostly unread that I currently think this is a good idea. Maybe it’s also because so much of what’s written is anonymous or dressed up that that I think this is a good idea. Maybe it’s because I’ve been feeling like there are so many problems right now and no one with the interest or energy to help me that writing about these things out here feels like the best of few options. In any case, I am going to be making more post, intertwined with the technical stuff.