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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