Another is the value blogging brings to the creators when done right. Blogging has helped liberate academics from the publishing racket that does as much, in my view, to hide useful information as surface it. Its informal tone is readable, as opposed to way too much academic prose. Blogs can make sometime abstruse topics understandable for the rest of us who don’t know the jargon; we just want to learn something. Lawyers and scientists are great examples of people whose blogging demystifies their worlds. If we could only read their writings in journals and the occasional op-ed column, we’d know much less.
Indeed, perhaps the best outcome of the ISA situation is its demonstration, yet again, that blogging is far from dead. (Do read the Guardian’s interview with three pioneer bloggers, also published this week.) It’s evolving. True, many of us are blogging less and using Facebook, Google, Tumblr, Google+ and other centralized services more, a trend that is both practical and problematic. It’s practical because the centralized operations are where the people are. It’s problematic because we end up working for those services at least as much as for ourselves.
The ability to publish our own work on our own sites can’t be overstated. This is why I strongly urge my students to get their own internet domains and create their own presence on the internet. And it’s why I’ve decided to do more blogging myself in coming months and years.