Monday, March 19, 2007

Hobgoblin Brought Down by Little Minds

If you go back to this post, you'll see that the links in it are dead. This is because BikeProf has decided to pull the plug on The Hobgoblin of Little Minds. My title gives you the "shorter" version of his explanation and conveys something of my regret that another person good at Blogging While Academic has left Blogoramaville U.

In addition to losing a fellow antebellum-era quotation dropper--and a book event we had planned for the summer on our blogs--BikeProf's absence also means I stand to lose my perspectives on the lit-blogging world that his posts, blogroll, and sitemeter stats all provided me access to (particularly if he decides to pull a Billmon by pulling his last and first posts). More important, I lose a colleague who combined his many passions in a single blog, someone who approached reading, teaching, writing, walking, and riding with equal and infectious enthusiasm, which earned him a diverse, active, and (by CitizenSE standards, at least) large readership.

CitizenSE, too, strives to straddle several worlds. The academic worlds of antebellum, 19th C, and contemporary American lit; the transregional literatures of the Black Atlantic and the Extended Caribbean; the global cultures of gender, race, ethnicity, colonialism, imperialism, and trade. The readerly worlds of the book-of-the-month-club, Oprah's Book Club, and lit-bloggers; the relatively focused searches of high school, undergraduate, graduate, and continuing ed students; the relatively random searches of those looking for parenting anecdotes, commentary on popular culture, or adventures in metablogging; those momentarily curious about a comment by The Constructivist on someone else's blog. Not to mention the professional/personal, work/life, America/Japan worlds....

How has it been working out so far? With the new semester starting in less than three weeks, it's too soon to tell. But I can report that I gave four talks in the past four months--a personal record I hope to extend--all of which were easier to write and better pitched to their audiences than anything I've ever delivered before. I have finished editing one chapter of my manuscript, made slow progress on the second, begun rewriting the last, and first-drafted parts of several new ones on and off CitizenSE. So blogging here has increased my overall professional productivity, and with a better teaching and commuting schedule in the spring than the fall, I expect and need this to continue, particularly since I return to a 4-3 load mere weeks after turning in my grades at the three Fukuoka universities I will be teaching at this coming semester.

I will admit to some frustration that sitemeter is showing about 1/3 the average daily visitors to CitizenSE than to the for-some-time-now-group-authored Mostly Harmless blog that I created "for fun" in January, mostly to avoid cluttering this one, give my other interests an outlet, and experiment with a wider variety of styles and moods. But it makes sense to me: before I began blogging again, after taking a sabbatical from what has now become Objectivist v. Constructivist v. Theist, I was mostly visiting the blogs I had the most fun reading and commenting on (mostly the killer Bs--Berube and Bitch). In fact, managing three quite different blogs--and blogrolls--has given me a chance to give some blogs I refused to link to on what was then O v. C a new chance and discover old and new ones I had never heard of or looked at. So even though I only read the newspapers here in Fukuoka when I can, get my multiple magazine subscriptions late or not at all, and can't understand kids' anime, much less the evening news, I feel relatively well-read and well-informed. And I don't even use RSS, which one of the Great Blogging Scotts recently informed me may be a way people are reading CitizenSE without showing up on the sitemeter stats. (If any RSSers would care to delurk, even if just to let em know how to track [and proudly display!] the "subscriptions" to the CitizenSE "feed" [sorry for the scare quotes; I'm still stuck in Web 1.969], it would be much appreciated.)

Perhaps the most gratifying moment in my short blogging career, though, came after the tsuma actually sat down and read a little bit of my blogs last week. She asked me if I'm saving what I'm writing. I told her that google is likely a safer place for my brainstorms than any drive, disk, or memory stick, but secretly I was pleased she thought there was something worth saving here and elsewhere. I'm giving myself until August to develop and incorporate CitizenSE's contribution to that total into a manuscript worth publishing in the ambitious form I envision for it. But more on that (hopefully) this Saturday....

So best wishes to BikeProf in his new endeavors. Here's hoping he makes a bloggy comeback before he gets tenure!


Scott Eric Kaufman said...

Run your feed through Feedburner and it'll give you your subscriber numbers.

I've been thinking about expanding on some notes I'd written about the relation of blogging to pitching a talk to an audience, but I need more experience with the latter. There seems to be a necessary relationship between the two. (Jeff Cohen might disagree, however.)

The Constructivist said...

Thanks for the Cohen link--will check it out when I'm more awake. But vat ist dis "Feedburner" you speak of? Clearly I am too lazy this am to google.

The Constructivist said...

Decided not to be lazy on the fb thing. Thanks.