Stuart Elden on writing and “why blog?”

One of the more prolific geography bloggers, Professor Stuart Elden, has offered an observation on the recent conversation that emerged from the list I compiled (and adapted from other sources) of (relatively frequent) geography blogs.

As Prof. Elden notes (and as linked in a previous post) there was a discussion back in 2011 on Crit-Geog-Forum about this, and he links back to a blogpost from that time which offers an interesting comparison of activities. Prof. Elden notes:

the readership of the blog is much larger than it was back in 2011; and I have less time now for the kind of substantive posts I’d like to write. So much of the blog is a noticeboard, for myself and for others, but it’s also – as Clive [Barnett] noted – still a place where I blog about my work, rather than blog parts of my work.

This theme of blogging about how we work rather than blogging our work seems an important point, and Prof. Elden expands on this in terms of his blogging about the practices of writing.

The posts I have written that I return to tend to generally be posts about how I (have) work(ed) for example – about blogging and about doing research about other kinds of research (i.e. industrial research). So, an important part of using a blog as a means of curating (which is what I suggested in my second post about being a sharing academic) is contributing to discussions about the ‘how’ as well as the ‘what’ of research.

Professional web presence

Another post from a train (with very poor connection and so actually uploaded from my office)…

Re-reading the responses by Clive Barnett and Jeremy Crampton  to my post about ‘being a sharing academic‘ reminded me, eventually, about the conversations held on the JiscMail list ‘Crit-Geog-Forum‘ about blogging in March 2011, the session ‘Between freedom and narcissism?‘ at the AAG in 2013, for which Scott Rodgers wrote a really useful blogpost (see below) and the useful publication by Wilson and Starkweather in the Professional Geographer on the ‘web presence of academic geographers‘.

Scott Rodgers reflected upon how he uses his blog, in 2013, and opened his thoughts out to consider how he has drifted away from ‘myopic blog-writing’ to engaging in discussion and sharing across several different kinds/platforms of media. Concluding his blogpost Scott argued, and I can only agree, that:

contemporary social media are becoming less and less tools that academics can opt out of. Rather, they increasingly comprise the basic environments of academic practice, and at a time of shifting priorities in higher education, these are environments academics need to claim.

The conclusions to the paper by Wilson and Starkweather are another useful way of framing some of the issues that arose between the blogposts written by Clive, Jeremy and myself and I think are worth quoting here:

The Web presence of academic geographers can no longer necessarily be described as a static online listing of the accomplishments of an individual scholar. Instead, the Web practices of academic geographers are increasingly marked by … a focus on online interaction and engagement, despite the lack of professionalization along these lines. Early-career geographers are likely not trained in this aspect of academic reproduction and might be flatly discouraged from “wasting their time” by producing online content. Given the continually shifting norms of online practices in society, and in academia itself, however, perhaps serious debate about strategies for using [social media] tools should enter into the training and professionalization of young scholars. The fact that academics would best avoid directing all of their writing energies into their Twitter account is all the more reason for explicit discussions about how to productively manage one’s Web presence.

We do not believe that it is wise to dismiss blogging, microblogging, and online social networking as nothing more than a distraction from the serious work of academic life. Not only are these new patterns of online engagement seemingly here to stay and are likely bound up in broader shifts in performance pressures but they also offer some notable potential scholarly benefits if used with intention.

First, pressures to publish and promote have spilled out into Web practices like blogging and microblogging. The blog can act as a way to claim intellectual territory, just as it can provide a space to share nascent ideas and work out scholarly thought in conversation with far-flung peers.

Second, and relatedly, online social networks and other informal venues for sharing scholarly productions have become important amidst the uncertainty of secure employment alongside the neoliberalization of the university. Junior academics, perhaps more than their senior colleagues, might rely on these Web practices to remain visible and viable among a growing body of recently minted PhDs.

Third, many junior scholars likely completed the bulk of their advanced degree post-Facebook. These online social networks provide the avenue for keeping informed of others’ engagements (scholarly and otherwise) and nurture the local and translocal collectives that are so important in the professional development of early-career academic geographers.

As institutions of higher education grapple with new pressures in a knowledge economy, academic geographers should incorporate everyday Web practices alongside the more observed and investigated techniques of a neoliberalizing academe.

(Wilson and Starkweather 2014, p. 79, additional emphasis)

I wonder, not least as a committee member of two RGS-IBG research groups, if the need for integrating the uses of various media into the training and professionalisation of early-career academics might be better-served by professional associations such as the AAG and the RGS-IBG. We could, for example, offer workshops as part of annual conferences and events. If nothing else, we could help one another by more-openly sharing things that have worked for us and  perhaps where we may have slipped-up and how that might be avoided. This is definitely something I think is worth consideration by those involved in our professional associations.

Geographers that blog (relatively frequently)

I’ve had the habit of reading blogs since blogs became ‘a thing’, back in the early noughties (for me anyway), and have moved through different RSS readers, desktop versions then web services – from NetNewsWire to dear old Bloglines introduced to me by Howard Rheingold, and more recently Netvibes… but I’ve allowed the list of sites I follow to atrophy and wither, with many no longer active and some no longer online.

I decided to do what all lazy Twitter users do and ask ‘which geographers should I read?‘ and received some helpful responses. I am therefore sharing the beginnings of a list that I hope others may help add to by leaving suggestions in the comments below…

My aim here is to compile a list of regular bloggers who blog about vaguely human geographical things, so here’s my provisional list – there must be more(!):

Australian Centre for Cultural Environmental Research

Hannah Awcock – Turbulent London / The historical geography of protest & riots

Clive Barnett – Pop Theory

Mike Batty – Smart Cities

Megan Blake – GeoFoodie

the Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis (UCL) blog network (aggregate)

Jeremy Crampton – Open Geography

Tim Cresswell – place, landscape, mobility, poetry

Julie Cupples – geography/development/culture/media

Simon Cook – Jographies

Nicholas Crane – For Another Critique of the Pyramid

Andy Davies – Contentious Geographies

Gwilym Eades – Place Memes

Stuart Elden – Progressive Geographies

Eye on Geography – NUIM geography group blog

Thomas Frederiksen – Mining and CSR

Geocritique – group blog on ’emerging ecologies’

Geopolitics & security – Royal Holloway blog

Bradley Garrett

Hilary Geoghegan – Culture of Enthusiasm

Jen Jack Gieseking

Ben Gilby – Doronieth Kernow

Governing Emergencies – Leverhulme network blog (led by Ben Anderson)

Mark Graham – Zero Geography

Derek Gregory – Geographical Imaginations

Muki Haklay – Po Ve Sham

Adrian Ivakhiv – Immanence

Rob Kitchin’s Ireland After NAMA

Sara Koopman – Decolonizing Solidarity & Spanish for Social Change

Innes Keighren – On the archival trail of William Macintosh

Angela Last – Mutable Matter

Landscape Surgery – Royal Holloway postgrad group blog

Ludic Geopolitics – project blog

Colin McFarlane – City Fragment

Dominique Moran – Carceral Geography

Oli Mould – taCity

Helen Pallett – The Topograph

Rafael Pereira – Urban Demographics

Mark Purcell – Path to the Possible

The Programmable City – EU funded project at NUI Maynooth led by Rob Kitchin

Scott Rodgers – Publicly Sited

Gillian Rose – Visual/Method/Culture

Joe Smith – Citizen Joe Smith

Society for Radical Geography, Social Theory & Everyday Life (group)

Soft Paternalism – project blog: Rhys Jones, Mark Whitehead, Jessica Pykett & Marc Welsh

Chris W. Strother – The Anarchist Geographer

Gerard Toal – Critical Geopolitics

Leonard van Efferink – Exploring Geopolitics

Miranda Ward

Tara Woodyer – Material Sensibilities

Honorable mentions (not particularly regular)

Katherine Brickell

High Crossfield – Chomping at the bloodied bit

Ayona Datta – The City Inside Out

Design Geographies

Michael Gallagher

Matthew Gandy – Cosmopolis

Nick Heynen

Kurt Iveson – Cities & Citizenship

Helen Jarvis – Experiments in Community

Bob Jessop

Craig Jones – War, Law, Space

Rob Kitchin’s frequent blog about crime fiction

John Krygier – Making Maps

Karen Lai

Joanna Mann – KnitDiss / Exploring the geographies of craft & crafting

Ellie Miles – Museums, research, teaching

Pat Noxolo’s Dancing Maps project blog

Kris Olds / Global Higher Ed

Darren Patrick – Queer Urban Ecologies

Laura Prazeres – Learning beyond borders

Paul Simpson

Juanita Sundberg – Nature / Race / Militarization

Alex Vasudevan – Experimental Geographies

Tom Vickers – Refugees, Capitalism and the British State

Paulo Jorge Vieira

Amy Zang – Souvenir Geographies


Video > Anne Sauvagnargues talks through Deleuze on the composition of experience & meaning

This is an interesting and very rich video of Anne Sauvagnargues, at what must be a kind of postgrad workshop(?), talking through Deleuze’s (Simondon-ian) thinking concerning the composition of meaning and experience. It’s quite a master class! There’s so much in this that I can’t really offer a précis and its quite hard to hear Sauvagnargues because of persistent white noise but its definitely worth the effort of watching an accomplished exposition of a creative way of thinking:

Anne Sauvagnargues from Vasco Barbedo on Vimeo.

“Crossovers” – performance dialogues

I stumbled across the Performance Matters Crossovers‘ series of films through Twitter a little while ago and wanted to post something about what looks like a really interesting set of films that stem from productive practice-based research projects. Performance Matters, as an umbrella for a number of projects, is led by Gavin Butt (Goldsmiths), Adrian Heathfield (Roehampton) and Lois Keidan (Live Art Development Agency).

‘Crossovers’ is a series of films/dialogues that attempt to reflect”the potential of marginal artforms and intense ideas within popular media.” In particular, the series of film/dialogues between Adrain Heathfield and a number of interesting contemporary philosophers/theorists look really good:

Writing Not Yet ThoughtHélène Cixous with Adrian Heathfield.The acclaimed author discusses the practice of writing alongside its relation to painting, music and philosophy. See here for details of the Writing Not Yet Thought DVD.

Transfigured Night, A Conversation with Alphonso Lingis.  An exchange between the celebrated American philosopher Alphonso Lingis and Adrian Heathfield. See here for details of the Transfigured Night film and DVD.

No Such Thing As Rest, A Walk with Brian Massumi. Setting thoughts and conversation in constant motion, Adrian Heathfield encounters the philosopher and cultural theorist while walking the streets of Montreal. See here for details of the No Such Thing As Rest DVD.

A nice trailer for the film/dialogue with Massumi is available on vimeo, which I wanted to share here:

No Such Thing as Rest: a walk with Brian Massumi [Trailer] from Adrian Heathfield on Vimeo.

Apparently there is also a film/dialogue with Bernard Stiegler, which would be interesting to see.

William Gibson: The Zero History of waiting for the Great Dismal

[Originally posted on the DCRC website:]

Last night I attended William Gibson’s Bristol Festival Ideas talk.  This blog post represents some reflections on Gibson’s relationship with futurity as it came through in the question and answer session.

William Gibson’s appearance at his Bristol Festival of Ideas talk was delayed by an unanticipated train incident, an apparent ‘anomoly’, as Gibson quipped, for trains are ‘never’ delayed in the UK. This was a fittingly unanticipated eventuality – for the evening proved to focus on the characterisation of the future. Launching straight into a reading of an entire chapter from Zero History. In an unexpectedly high pitched and quite raspy voice, Gibson recounts a section of the character Milgrim’s story. Expressing his witty and insightful eye for detail, in the world crafted by Gibson for Zero History, Cafe Nero is ‘a tasty alternate reality Starbucks’. Gibson’s protagonist is investigating military fashion on behalf of global marketing company, ‘Blue Ant’, not least because ‘military contracting is essentially recession proof’. Indeed, the author proclaimed, the bulk of the 21st century street fashion for men is the fashion of the middle of previous century’s military. This forms a part of the basis for the book’s narrative.
Continue reading “William Gibson: The Zero History of waiting for the Great Dismal”