A big thank you to Kathleen Fitzpatrick who drew my attention to the fifth anniversary today of Ivan Tribble's classic "advice column" in the Chronicle of Higher Education: Bloggers Need Not Apply.
In his rant, Tribble blasted academic job applicants for having blogs. "The pertinent question for bloggers," he asks, "is simply, Why? What is the purpose of broadcasting one's unfiltered thoughts to the whole wired world?"
As a grad student blogger at the time, I was frustrated but not surprised to see "the old guard" balk at "new media." The threat of being punished for blogging was real enough that many of us academic bloggers at the time -- particularly grad students and untenured faculty -- hid our identities behind pseudonyms.
Tribble and his fellow search committee members were horrified that our writing exposed "the dank, dark depths of the blogger's tormented soul." I'll repeat now what I argued then: that academia drives us to those very depths.
And as my blogging at the time was as much about cancer as it was about grad school, I really felt as though Tribble represented the things about higher education that I despised -- an "institution still wants to control all aspects of our intellectual production while simultaneously denying us any space for a personal life. This seems readily apparent in this article's lambasting of job applicants who (gasp) have hobbies and opinions outside their area of professional expertise."
Five years is a long time ago, and much has changed. Blogging has seen wider acceptance, and arguably a new set of social media tools have emerged, new ways for prospective junior faculty to "air departmental dirty laundry (real or imagined) on the cyber clothesline for the world to see."
I do wonder if Ivan Tribble is on Facebook.