Why I deleted my account on academia.edu, and why I’m starting a blog

I set up the infrastructures of this blog over a month ago. And then I just let it sit without posting anything, partly because I was busy writing papers but also because I was somehow reluctant to write that “first post.” So I thought I’d get it over with by briefly describing what I’m hoping to do in here:

1. To replace my old public profile on academia.edu.

I first joined academia.edu so that I could put a profile online without having to go through the trouble of creating a website. I enjoyed the convenience for a while and even had fun finding profiles of people with similar interests, but quickly got suspicious of its use because 1) there is not much exchange of ideas going on in there, and 2) it clutters Google search results with too many irrelevant pages. (If you haven’t tried Googling your own name, try it now —unless you’ve published a lot or have a strong web presence elsewhere, most of the results will come from academia.edu… assuming that you have a profile there, of course.)

Now that I’m producing papers and other research-related materials that I will potentially want to share online, I want a platform where I can have greater control. WordPress seems like a good option because of its ease of use, and also because it has the potential of expanding into a quasi-website.

2. To help ease writer’s block.

Somehow as I proceed further in my studies and supposedly become wiser (or not), I have found the process of writing to become harder (not that it was ever easy), more painful, and unbearably slow. I think part of it has to do with the fact that my newly-polished critical reading skills have made me become too critical of anything that I write myself. The consequence is that what I write now is less “flawed,” but also less interesting compared to what I wrote as an undergraduate.

I suspect that one way to make writing less painful and potentially fun is to add an intermediate layer of writing between the research and the final product, where you are writing immediately after making exciting research findings. Some people recommend keeping a research journal, which sounds like a good idea. Here, I want to experiment with writing the equivalent of a public research journal by posting things that I find fun and exciting in the course of my research. I have been doing this previously through my Facebook updates, so the posts will probably look brief and scattered until I figure out how to write more coherent-looking blog entries.

3. To make orals exam preparation more meaningful and enjoyable.

I’m scheduled to take my orals exam this coming May, meaning that I will be reading, reading, and reading during the coming months. To motivate myself in the process, I plan to post short abstracts of some of my readings. In order to pretend that I might be producing something potentially useful, I plan to write abstracts to Chinese and Japanese works in English, and those of English works in Japanese. (The latter posts will be connected to my account on Twitter, where my primary working language is Japanese.) If this actually works as a motivational strategy, I will continue doing this after I’m done with the orals. We’ll see…

To sum up, whatever I put on here in the next few months (if I actually manage to do so) will be quite brief, informal, and probably not very useful. I expect anywhere between 0 to 3 people to see each post, but the potential of having an audience will help me keep going, I hope.

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4 Comments

  1. Jamie

     /  2012/01/21

    congrats! i’ll be one of the audiences :)

    Reply
  2. Thanks Jamie!

    Reply
  3. 王紫さま、こんちには。ブログをお書きになっているとは、存じませんでした。始められたきっかけを拝見しまして、大いに共感するところがありました。

    私も以前、論文を書こうとしても書きにくくなった時期がありました。ある程度の構想のもとにものを書こうとしても、なぜか気が乗らず、困っておりました。そういう時に、ブログを書いてみようか思いつきました。備忘録代わりに読んだ本についてのメモを書いておき、しかも、ウェブに公開するというかたちで人様の眼に触れるようにしておけば、研究のペースを作るのにもよいか、と思った次第です。

    私の場合、この方法が自分なりにうまく行きました。一つには、資料や先行研究をよく記憶できるようになり、アイディアにも事欠かなくなったこと。二つには、ウェブを通じて多くの方と交流できるようになり、張り合いができたこと。その二点が挙げられます。そういう意味で、日常の読書と、論文という完成品とをつなぐ、中間的なアウトプットとして、いまも大いに重宝しています。

    ご研究の進展を祈っております。

    また、まもなく口頭試問とのこと、大いに力をご発揮ください!ご活躍をご祈念しております。

    学退上

    Reply
  4. 学退先生

    ご丁寧なコメントどうもありがとうございます。こうして三ヶ月前に書いたものを読んでみると、やはり当初懸念していた通り全然更新出来ていないなと実感してしまいました。

    今でもブログを使って研究の中間的報告をしたいという気持ちは変わりませんが、発表するまで待つべきものとネットで公開してもいい内容との間の線引きは思ったよりも難しいものだと最近感じています。アメリカの院生の場合、本格的なリサーチを始めてから博士論文を完成させるまで少なくとも三年、それが本として出版されるまでまた数年、その間口頭発表以外は研究内容をほとんど公開しない場合も多いようで、さすがに「完成品」が世に出るまでの時間が長過ぎる気がします。私はそれほど我慢強い方ではないので口頭試験(いろいろあって九月まで延期になってしまいました)が過ぎたら少しずつブログに載せられそうな部分を探していきたいと思っています。

    また日本語で書くと宣言しておきながら未だに何も書けていなくお恥ずかしい限りですが、そのうちコツコツとやっていく予定です。(笑)

    あらためて、励ましの言葉どうもありがとうございます。こんなゆったりペースのブログですが、ぜひ気が向いた時にまた覗きにいらしてください。これからも宜しくお願いいたします。

    王紫

    Reply

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