Now, both Micah and David have pointed to a relatively foolish article in the Chronicle of Higher Education, the point of which is that academic job-seekers shouldn’t blog. Why? Well, if a search committee sees your blog and doesn’t like what they see, they might not hire you. They will fear that you’d tell a reading public about what their institution is really like. They prefer to hire someone about whom they know less, on the assumption that the bits they don’t know about will all be agreeable and impressive.
The fatuities and fallacies therein defy enumeration. To take it from the top, the article assumes that a job-seeker should want a job so desperately that she or he would want to be hired by a department that wouldn’t choose her or him if they knew the truth. It assumes that if they don’t know you’re a blogger when they hire you, you won’t embarrass them at any point in the future (and that if you’ve blogged soundly and discreetly for years, you’re more apt to spill tawdry details than someone who hasn’t established a track record for public discretion). It assumes that blogs constitute a unique mode of public communication — so that a disgruntled blogger poses more of a decorum risk than would a disgruntled academic novelist.
The article puts the search committee in a bad light, since it demonstrates that they made unsatisfactory choices for finalists. The problems among these candidates weren’t the blogs per se, but with character flaws that came into focus through the blog (or, in one case, apart from the blog — though the columnist seems to count the blog against that candidate anyway!). Does the pseudonymous columnist think that Duke wouldn’t have hired Mark Goodacre if they’d known? that George Mason wouldn’t have hired Dorothea if they’d known? Maybe Penn [State] can find a way to dump Michael Bérubé; what an embarrassment he must be!
The article says a very great deal more about the competence and insight of the author and the search committee than it says about blogging.