- I guess it never occurred to me that some people would look askance at blogging because computer scientists have had on-line presences for such a long time. Go to any CS department's web site, and you'll almost certainly find links to faculty sites with personal sides (photos of family, discussions of recreational activities, semi-academic hobbies, etc). Even before the web, academics (grad students and faculty) participated widely in both academic and non-academic oriented USENET newsgroups.
- Blogging is enjoyable, and it's enjoyable writing. Anything that increases the amount of writing we do seems worthwhile to me. The fact that the audience is not as specialized as one's academic peers (to whom one writes in refereed publications) is even better, as it demands a level of clarity and transparency of explanation that might even improve one's "serious" publications.
- One academic fantasy that many of us have involves something like a little cafe filled with relaxed colleagues with whom we can discuss research or other interesting topics: a society of the mind -- like "Cheers", but with stimulants. There may even be actual physical places like that. But a blog, by virtue of being a bidirectional communication medium, can serve this function, too. Yes, it's not the same thing, but the coffee's cheaper and you can contribute your part of the conversation at midnight while wearing pajamas.
I must confess to a case of blog envy: I wish my own blog had more academic content. Now, I don't blog about my teaching and professional experiences (except as abstractions) because I'm not doing this anonymously -- it would be unprofessional to comment on students and colleagues thus. But what about research? My excuse has been, "You can't handle my research." Seriously, I'm not sure that anyone beyond a circle of a few dozen people or so care about my research (if that many).
On the other hand, I keep feeling that a blog can be useful in helping "real" work. Now, at the time of this writing, you would note on the left hand column of this site a set of 43 things entries that include "Finish research proposal draft" and "Finish journal paper". By making part of my to-do list public, I have this hope that I'll meet these deadlines. But I think this blog can be an even greater help, so I'm going to try to experiment with blogging my grant proposal preparation. After all, once it's funded (note I didn't say "if"), it becomes public information. And it's a continuation of research I've already published: I want to disseminate these ideas. So, I'll give it a try: blogging my grant proposal preparation for a more general audience (more general than the folks who would be reviewing it or reading my publications, that is). Now I've said it, and now I'll either do it (and, by way of prerequisite, actually finish the proposal) or face the embarrassment of the ten people or so who read this blog knowing I'm all hat and no cowboy.