Monday, June 11, 2012

Blogging Overload

The challenge of writing in a virtual world is that it is easy to over-commit and lose track of things.  Someone commented on my Facebook ad for my latest outlet about the number of different places I am posting stuff these days, and, well, it is true.  I am now posting at:
I think that is it.  Hmmm.  So, a few questions arise?  Why so many?  What differentiates the stuff I write?  Good questions, reader, glad you asked.

Why so many?  Mostly because each outlet is distinct and because I have not thought hard about what I want my web-presence to be.  Each opportunity that has arisen just seems cool and hard to decline.  Plus I think I am still feeling the effects of Rudolph disease.  Spending six years in West Texas and coming out of a grad program that was on the rise but not yet well networked (well, for the grad students) meant that I spent my early career feeling left out of the various reindeer games.  As a result, I have a hard time saying no when interesting opportunities arise to hang out, even virtually, with smart and interesting people.  Not only have I been blogging like a Mad Man (wait, no blogging in the 1960s), but I have been doing a whole lot of edited volumes lately.  Probably has something to do with feeling less than welcome in other settings.

I started blogging because I viewed as it an opportunity to think aloud about stuff.  Perhaps working in semi-isolation during the summer pushed me into seeking outlets for my opinions.  I do my best thinking (not saying much) when writing, so by writing more, I have been able to ponder more stuff, especially now that I use driving/riding the train/biking have turned into listening activities--listening to podcasts (good thing my i-pod is not waterproof so I still think in the shower).  Not to mention blogging allowed me to embrace my inner (and outer) narcissist.

My blogging here at the Spew eventually led to posting occasionally at the Duck.  Duck of Minerva has a bunch of very interesting folks, and posting there has given me opportunities to meet these new people and drink beer with them at conferences.  So, the incentive here is obvious!  That, and they have a broader readership.  I could cross-post my IR stuff more over there from here, but I tend not to see most of my ordinary posts here as Duck-worthy.  The nice thing about DoM is that it is a blend of sharp policy and theory stuff and straight-out silliness.  My most recent post there applied my research on NATO and Afghanistan to understand how the Avengers and S.H.I.E.D. probably interact with the American government.  The Duck has a long tradition of using pop culture to explore and understand IR, so I fit in well there.  I am still intimidated by the quality of the stuff there.

My next outlet became Current Intelligence, an online magazine that was originally monthly and now quarterly.  I responded to a twitter call for columnists.  I see my role there as a bit more serious: taking what I know about IR (especially ethnic conflict and alliance stuff) and applying it to significant, relatively enduring issues (because it is quarterly).  I do find these pieces a bit harder to write because I am usually reacting to the day's or week's events, rather than thinking ahead very far.  So, I like the distinct challenge.

CIC presented a completely different opportunity: to post on a weekly basis (more or less--I hope to average four posts a month) about stuff relevant to Canada.  This seemed to be the greatest of challenges--do I have that much to say about Canadian foreign and defence policy?  As it turns out, aside from the past week's writer's block, I have had no problem opining about the recent past, present, and future of Canada's military and the place of Canada in the world. It has been easier than I expected in part because the folks there send out prompts each week about potential themes to address.   In anticipation of my move to Ottawa (two weeks away now), I wanted to get more engaged in Canadian debates and meet in real life or on the internet people who are doing such stuff. Writing here has been quite successful, fun, and educational.

My newest outlet is Political Violence @ a Glance.  I quickly realized that I was joining one of the ultimate "cool kids" clubs in the conflict business.  The folks who will be writing here are sharp people whose work I have respected for quite some time.  I know a fair amount of them, and hope to meet the rest over beers at conferences down the road.  I could not say no to this chance, even as my outlets began to pile up, as involvement here might confuse people into thinking I am at the same level as these folks.  That or my stalking of Roland Paris (also at CIC) is getting out of hand.  The focus of my stuff here will be on considering the applications of scholarly stuff on conflict towards current policy issues, more or less.  I am writing this post now while trying to figure out how to write my first post there.  The first one is always the hardest, I think.

So, to sum up the differences:
  1. My blog for considering academia, politics nearby (Montreal/Canada), silliness (pop culture), personal (like this post), and thinking through whatever I want.
  2. Duck: for better versions of the IR stuff I would post on my blog.
  3. Current Intelligence: more enduring, more general analyses of IR.
  4. CIC: Canadian foreign/defence stuff with perhaps more US FP down the road as CIC seeks to broaden its focus and audience.
  5. PV@G: Pure conflict stuff as close to my expertise as possible since it is full of conflict experts. 
Is there too much Steve Saideman out in the web?  Probably.  Good thing the virtual universe is fairly infinite.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Rudolph disease--I like that. I've never heard that before, but I like it.

I too went to a grad program that is good but not especially well connected, leading to my ignorance of what this particular affliction is called (I was even left out of the reindeer games that produced the term "reindeer games"), and have a similar problem saying no when opportunities arise.

And over the last year I've come appreciate a) the value of networking, and b) just how difficult it is for those who come from Canadian PhD programs to receive invitation to reindeer games held stateside.