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research blogs as monuments to treating ideas seriously

Another excellent annual reflection from Daniel Little on the eighth birthday of Understanding Society. It’s one of my favourite academic blogs and certainly my favourite theory blog:

This week marks the end of the eighth year of Understanding Society. This year passed the 1000 mark — the blog is now up to 1,029 posts, or well over one million words. The blog continues to be a very good venue for me for developing and sharing ideas about the foundations of the social sciences and the ways that we attempt to understand the social world. (Mark Carrigan captures a lot of the value that a blog can have for a scholar in his recent excellent book, Social Media for Academics. Thanks, Mark, for including Understanding Society in your thinking about academic uses of social media!)

Writing Understanding Society continues to stimulate me to read and think outside the confines of the specific tradition in which I work. The collage presented above represents just a few of the books I wouldn’t have read in the past year if it weren’t for the blog. It gives me a lot of pleasure to recall the new ideas learned from working through these books and capturing a few ideas for the blog. There is a lot of diversity of content across these many books, but there are surprising cross-connections as well. (If you want to see the post where one of these books is discussed, just search for the author in the search box above.)

The scale of his writing is remarkable and it was produced iteratively, leading to the emergence of the blog as a unique record of his scholarship over time. In this way, I think it can be seen as a monument to ‘treating ideas with seriousness’: a phrase Daniel used to me when I interviewed him and which has stuck with me since. It’s an exemplar of what research blogs can and should become.

Categories: Social Media Social Media for Academics

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