Anne Galloway has been asking some interesting questions about using blogs as research tools. Like her, I’m concerned with using my blog for thinking through some of my research (in my case, making the transition from dissertation to book), and I’m trying to work out how blogging might be able to synthesize discrete ideas. Anne points out that
One alternative may be the “search” tool on many MT blogs, which might allow me to track down any entries on a topic, but that still doesn’t necssarily allow for the types of connections that I think she is describing and creates other types of limits. I’m also a big fan of the trackback function that might alert me to others’ comments on my blog.
For example, Blogger doesn’t offer the ability to organise posts into categories like Movable Type, but even so, that type of archiving does nothing to connect posts across boundaries.
I think she’s right to suggest (via Ted Nelson)that “we are prisoners of our applications,” but I’d like to make a case for the temporal linearity of blogging. I think George put it well when wrote about “writing to the moment” several months ago. I realize that he was writing more about autobiography, but “writing to the moment” (i.e. in a linear medium) can also enable a certain type of thinking that might not be permitted in “writing to a database” (George’s narratives about his research in Manchster might be a good example). Certainly blogging allows one to combine both logics to an extent, but I do think that the temporal organization might allow me to see how an idea is developing over time in ways that a database with discrete categories might not. Also by privileging the most recent entries, blogs are useful in emphasizing a blogging researcher’s most immediate thoughts. Then again, linearity and discrete posts also produce a segmentation of thinking that is rather artificial.
Given some of these questions, how have other academic bloggers used their blogs for thinking through reesarch ideas? In what ways do you find the temporal linearity of blogs helpful or harmful?