Saturday, July 09, 2005

The trouble with Tribble

The title of this post refers to an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education by an author writing under the pseudonym of "Ivan Tribble". Prof. Tribble is a humanities professor at a small liberal-arts college in the Midwest, and he writes about the trouble his hiring committee has had finding new faculty who don't have blogs. It seems that they've concluded that faculty who blog "might air departmental dirty laundry (real or imagined) on the cyber clothesline for the world to see. Past good behavior is no guarantee against future lapses of professional decorum." Of course, this is ridiculous; as Dan Drezner points out: just a few mouse clicks, and anyone can have a blog.

Back when I was a grad student, blogs were called "Usenet newsgroups". All us computer geeks hung out there. As far as I can tell, the only negative impact was on our research productivity. Or, maybe it helped; who knows?

I'll close with this remark from Prof. Tribble:

...we can't afford to have our new hire ditching us to hang out in computer science after a few weeks on the job.
I'm not surprised that his department is wary of new faculty developing interdisciplinary interests. After all, don't we all want to be in academia so we can lock ourselves in our offices, with occasional forays to department-only talks for social events?

Other blogs commenting on this include: Planned Obsolescence, who serves up a much more detailed flame than I have patience for, One Man's Opinion, who points out that what Prof. Tribble is really arguing for is dishonesty: hiding information from search committees (and search committees not wanting to find out things about candidates that would make their jobs tougher), Robert Farley, who points out that Tribble is confusing the purpose of different media, and Bitch, Ph.D., who does what she does best (i.e., space-efficient mockery).

P.S. This whole issue actually never occurred to me until I read this Chronicle article. Perhaps it's the case that only fields like computer science, in which computers and the net are places for doing many non-job-oriented things, have such a relaxed view of things like blogging?

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