Five years of blogging

by Eszter Hargittai on May 21, 2007

My fifth blogiversary was almost two weeks ago and I nearly missed it. I think when I came on sabbatical my blogging went on one as well even though I’ve tried to stay on the scene to some extent.

Looking back, I can tell I was an early adopter, because in my first post I felt the need to explain what a blog is.

People often wonder when (if ever) is a good time to start blogging. I’ve decided that graduate school was the perfect time. While the following is nearly impossible to appreciate when you’re still in grad school, I know it now: you honestly will never have as much free time as you do when you’re in graduate school. Granted, I was in a cushy position of not having to teach so that experience won’t generalize completely. Nonetheless, the number of obligations that follow once you’re in a faculty position makes it a more daunting undertaking later. (I guess perhaps blogging during a post-doc may also work well assuming that the post-doc experience happens before one gets a faculty position.)

I sometimes look back with longing on the topics I covered during the first year. They seem more interesting than what I get around to writing up these days. It’s not that I don’t think about an equal number of random and intriguing issues, I just don’t find the time to construct blog posts about them. I also wonder if size of audience influences what I blog about and how often. Perhaps one is more hesitant with some topics when blog posts go out to a large number of people instantly, the latter thanks to RSS, also not something one considered back in the “old days”.

One of the most amusing outcomes of a post during the first year of my blogging had to do with the movie Chicago. I wrote a few brief comments about it including a critique of a very annoying movie mistake. For some reason (different search algorithms at work at the time favoring blog posts perhaps a bit too much), my entry came up very high in the results on Google in response to a search on movie chicago. And when I say very high, I mean that it was the first hit on Google having to do with the movie! I got tons of visitors many of whom disagreed with my dislike of the movie and weren’t too shy to tell me. I ended up disabling the comments on the blog it got so ridiculous.

By September, 2003 I joined Crooked Timber. Thanks to the folks here who invited me. It’s been a blast. And also thanks VERY much to all the people who read blogs and special thanks to those who comment on occasion. I don’t know if I would’ve kept it up for five years without, what has mostly been, valuable feedback. I’ve met some great people through this activity and have learned a ton, so I thank you!



Kelly 05.21.07 at 6:51 pm

Interesting! I’m finding it much harder to blog consistently now that I’m in grad school, whereas it was almost easy during undergrad. Granted, in undergrad I only had my blog, and these days I blog for several bioethics blogs in addition to my own, but still. I look over the years of productivity, down to what feel like large gaps these days, and wonder if I have anything left to say. (Which seems itself counter-intuitive; you would think, as a grad student, I’d have a lot to say!)


joejoejoe 05.21.07 at 9:29 pm

Eszterbloggin’ rocks! Thank you for 5 years of fun, insightful posts.


Ben Saunders 05.21.07 at 10:10 pm

Grad school is the perfect time? Oh dear. Any tips on how to finish your thesis at the same time?


Two 05.22.07 at 12:28 am

I hear you on the need then to define “blog”. Back then, it seems like Robot Wisdom was a big prototype, just links and stuff. Instead, blog means something closer to Live Journal now. Which is kind of cool actually.


JM 05.22.07 at 2:49 am

In addition to dissertation/thesis advice, how about some advice on how to land fellowships so as to avoid teaching? Which did you receive?


Eszter 05.22.07 at 3:18 am

Kelly, your experience might also relate to change in obligations and a possible effect of audiences on content. It may well also matter when one started. I can’t say whether I’d blog or not if I was in grad school now given that blogs are much more prevalent.

Thanksthanksthanks, J!

Ben, in case you haven’t seen it, the post about strategies for successful dissertation completion may be of interest.


Eszter 05.22.07 at 5:27 am

Two – My blogging was not about just “links and stuff” back then although I guess it depends on how you define “stuff”. I do more linking now, actually (especially over at where I post my bookmarks daily). That said, I agree that how we define blogging has changed over time. In fact, I’m not sure it’s a very meaningful term anymore without elaboration since it’s used to refer to so many different sites, content, activity and processes.

JM – The low level of teaching obligation was mostly due to how Princeton’s Sociology PhD program was structured at the time. I was also lucky to have some support through an internal fellowship program (Wilson Scholars). Plus I had great support from faculty who helped me secure funding for my project from outside sources (like the Markle Foundation and NSF, although only the latter paid for time, the former was for project-related costs). And I was also lucky to get funding from the Dan David Foundation, because they happened to have a theme relevant to my work my last year. Overall, I guess paying attention to opportunities that may arise and making sure to have faculty support were quite important.


dsquared 05.22.07 at 7:36 am

apparently d-squared digest is two months older! I am shocked by how much less than Eszter I have learned in the same time.


agm 05.22.07 at 9:40 am

Free time on grad school? Depends on many factors. I’m luxuriating in it right now, but if I had kids or a job or had to work to pay for school (again), that would be manifestly untrue.


Eszter 05.22.07 at 12:14 pm

AGM – I was suggesting that, no matter the baseline, one will have more opportunities for an activity of this sort in grad school than other times in one’s academic career.


Kelly 05.22.07 at 6:42 pm

Eszter – that could very well be it. Since much of my blogging now is around career-related stuff, I feel a bit more obligation to being, well, professional. And I’ve certainly noticed that knowing there is a broader audience has affected how I write, as a whole.

That, in and of itself, has been an interesting process – back when I started blogging, let alone online, the notion of a permanent record wasn’t so prevalent. These days, thanks to Google and the various web archiving sites, everything you say is out there forever. Gives pause, sometimes.


sakthi 05.23.07 at 8:16 am

My hearty congrats for your 5th year blogiversary!!!I’m just out of college…Even in the college days i thought of start my own blog but i didn’t..Hopefully i’ll start now..But i have the confusion of how to structure my blog,I decided keep my blog only for Management and Motivation..What you say?
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