Monday, July 03, 2006

Extra, extra! Blogging makes you work faster! I am procrastinating like you wouldn't believe. After spending this morning sub-editing the Crider, I meant to spend this afternoon writing the next edition of the Is Not Friendly Society (if you'd like to join, sign up in the bottom right-hand corner of our website), which is putatively being sent tomorrow. Plus I'm writing two freelance stories, one due this Wednesday, the other one next Monday, and I really ought to interview my respective subjects.

But I have taken time out to read this story from The Age, which is about how academics have entered the Tron-like world of blogging, and how it has revolutionised their professional practice. Particularly, I was struck by this comment from RMIT's Adrian Miles:
"The normal process for someone like me would be to send an abstract to conference, write the paper, which would be unfinished, present it at the conference, usually to an audience of 10, get feedback from it and then I might go off and write the paper -- that process could be 18 months. I could do all that in a week in a blog."
All that in a week! What kind of machine are you, Adrian? A creativity/machine, perhaps? :-)
I felt very disheartened upon reading this: much the same disheartenment I feel when I consider how intellectually prolific Glen is. Thinking about things -- really thinking about them -- has become such a luxury for me; perhaps a luxury that 24-hour internet could help me afford. (I tell you what, having to trudge to fucking North Melbourne today merely in order to begin my day's work left me feeling weary before I even began, and poisonously anti-the very idea of a suburb named North Melbourne.) I feel as though blogging has only exacerbated this situation. As the article puts it:
Academic blogs offer a more informal, first-draft-style of writing and do not threaten traditional scholarly writing that represents months of carefully grown ideas and sifted thoughts, threshed from countless sources, all scrupulously cited before being reviewed by peers.
Good academic blogging relies on bloody-minded mental athleticism. Good journalism, of the sort that I try to practise, requires it just as much. It's easy to be mentally flabby when your living depends on writing what people want to publish (the original definition of a hack was someone who'd write any crap that paid the bills); when your format and word length are often antagonistic to thoughtful or analytical writing (which can be interpreted as 'pretentious', 'irrelevant' or 'elitist'); and when you have deadlines to meet and you sometimes seem to be sitting in front of your computer mashing the keyboard just to make words come out.

I think I'm a talented writer in the sense that it comes easily to me; the keyboard-mashing still produces half-decent writing. But I always aspire to do better, and feel frustrated that my most dynamite ideas are just beyond my fingertips, and I don't ever use my time wisely enough. On that note, I ought to get back to the Friendly Society.

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