An email correspondent asks:
Is it valuable to have an “internal” blog area accessible only by members of your research group, for the sake of internal communication?
I’m about to set this up for my group, so I can’t give a definite yes or no from personal experience. I certainly think it’s worth trying, and I’ve heard from others who’ve tried it that it can be an effective way of helping keep people within a research group aware of what everyone else is doing. Wikis may also be useful for this purpose.
Aside from the warm feeling from having made a positive contribution to the community, has running a public blog been helpful to you?
I’ve spent quite a bit of time drafting and redfrafting responses to that. It was more difficult to answer than I expected, because while it seems like a simple question, it’s really a whole bundle of different questions. Blogging combines: (1) the discipline, clarity of thought, and creative impulse that comes from writing things down; (2) interaction with friends and colleagues; (3) interaction with a wider audience; (4) education and outreach; (5) publicity for one’s work, field, organization and profession; (6) the excitement of being part of a new medium, which is evolving quickly; (7) the opportunity to pontificate; (8) a bunch of other things that I’ve either forgotten or are ignorant of.
When you look at it this way, blogging combines a very wide range of activities, and all of these in some sense benefit various people (not always, but often, including me). So, yes, there is definitely a considerable benefit. Whether it is worth the time and effort is difficult to say. Personally, I think I’m only just now really figuring out how to blog in a way that I feel is effective, and fully justifies the investment of time.