The Message That Is Sent

By Sean Carroll | May 8, 2007 6:48 pm

Rob Knop is blogging about the difficulties in getting tenure — his difficulties in particular, not the issue in some vague degree of abstraction. Very worth reading for a candid look at the kind of thing that goes on.

On a meta level, it’s interesting to contemplate how hiring and tenuring will ultimately be effected by blogs. Scott Aaronson is blogging at least some occasional facts about his job search. The proliferation of online rumor mills has already taken a lot of what used to be quasi-private information, shared among the old-boy network but invisible to outsiders, and put it out there for everyone to see. I can imagine a similar kind of effect if we ever get to the point that a critical mass of job- and tenure-seekers are blogging about their progress.

In the short term, I worry that the most obvious effect will be a deleterious one for the bloggers. For the most part, I don’t think that hiring/tenure committees care if you have a blog, occasional anonymous scare-mongering notwithstanding. (It might even help.) But blogging about the process might be the kind of thing that makes committees nervous. Personally, I would never blog about a major occupational transition while it was going on; when it’s all set up and the ink is drying, it makes sense to let people know, but in the middle of the process I would be (with good reason) worried about stepping on people’s toes. (Same thing with getting engaged.)

So, blogging about tenure and job searches: crazy or courageous? Or is there a difference? I guess we’ll see.


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About Sean Carroll

Sean Carroll is a Senior Research Associate in the Department of Physics at the California Institute of Technology. His research interests include theoretical aspects of cosmology, field theory, and gravitation. His most recent book is The Particle at the End of the Universe, about the Large Hadron Collider and the search for the Higgs boson. Here are some of his favorite blog posts, home page, and email: carroll [at] .


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