After each of the woman had give short description of how and why they began blogging (see Part 1), Jenny Davidson asked a few questions and then there were also questions from the audience. Much of the discussion focused on pseudonymity versus anonymity, as well as issues of creating characters and naming people. Both Claire and Tedra used pseudonyms but are now out. Tedra misplaced where she was writing from and created some amalgam characters.
On the other hand Jenny always used her real name since her blog was linked to her publishing a novel. She feels that there are other issues connected to this concerning how you talk about other people. She used the example of being on a job search committee and how it would be inappropriate to blog in a negative fashion about the meetings since the job candidate could read it.
Eva started her blog as a graduate student which she described as being a cheap lab employee. She used her first name only but on other more serious blogs she uses her full name.
The issue of how fully you disclose your identity when blogging is connected to the potential risk of blogging for graduate students and nontenured professors. None of the panelists felt that they had suffered in their careers because of blogging but they all agreed that it is a personal decision. People should use common sense. Alexandra did say that “being public about being wrong can be a racialized privilege.”
Although the panelists did not really discuss in any depth issues of class and race in blogging, Alexandra’s comment reveals some of the issues inherent in writing in a public forum. Tedra see blogging as primarily social media and therefore likes the comments. All of the panelists delete obnoxious and offensive comments.
One of the questions from the audience was about blogging counting as publications for tenure. Both Jenny and Tedra felt that if anything it would be counted as service. Claire pointed out that there is still not agreement about how to handle publications from online journals, even if they are refereed. Thus she feels that counting blogging as writing is far down the line. Tedra said that blogging is “raw” writing while published works are “cooked.”
The panelists pay some attention to the news cycle and the immediacy of blogging about events as they happen. However they are not journalists and don’t claim to be.
The discussion made me think a lot about my own blogging and on-line persona. I will say more about that tomorrow.