Mon 02 Oct 2006 04:49 PM
It has been about a year since I launched Footnotes on Epicycles; the one year mark is Wednesday. According to the statistics maintained by the blog software, I have posted over twenty-five thousand words in that time.
Facing that datum made me wonder: What if I had written a pentad of five-thousand word research articles instead? Of course, that would have been a better use of my time. But the question is wrong-headed. Whatever writing FOE does, it doesn't trade off word-for-word with writing publishable papers.
The 'news' posts have replaced my old, handcoded rss feed: Time saved.
Some posts have fed directly into papers. I worked through issues in distributed cognition here while revising my d-cog paper; that paper is now forthcoming in Social Studies of Science. I only wrote my Wikipedia paper after blogging several times on the topic; if it weren't for the feedback that resulted from those posts, I never would have written the paper.
Some posts have made points which are worth making explicitly, but which do not have a home in any paper I'm writing. The title of the blog is not just a poetic flourish.
Some posts have allowed me to work through issues that I am still thinking about: natural kinds, scientific significance, the status of fictional claims, and so on. Whether I ever write papers on these topics or not, these posts are not competing with polished papers. They are more akin to notes that I would probably be writing longhand if I didn't have a blog. Whereas the notes would just be interred in a filing cabinet and never seen again, the posts are stored in a searchable database and sometimes elicit interesting comments.
Some posts allow me to blow off steam. Better that than base jumping off the Humanities building.
Although that justifies most of my posting, there is admittedly an occasional post that is a total waste of time. Like this one.