Today marks the tenth anniversary of this blog’s first post. Here’s a listicle of some of what I’ve learned from a decade of blogging, in no particular order:
1. Deadlines are useful, because work does expand to fill the time I make available for it.
2. Sloppy writing reveals sloppy thinking. Laying out my ideas as text invariably shows that there is plenty of room for improvement.
3. To communicate effectively, short and simple is better than long and complex. Unfortunately, most academics are trained for the latter. It’s one of the reasons political scientists don’t have the relevance they ought to have in public policy making.
4. I’m really, truly, a morning person. Writing is so much easier for me before lunch.
5. Being married to a colleague whose background is wildly different from my own is incredibly helpful. See the statement about sloppy writing above. That’s hers.
6. Though ALPS has existed for a decade and gets on average 7,000 page views per month, blogging has not brought me fame and fortune. Luckily I’m intrinsically motivated by how the blogging process improves my — here it is again — writing and thinking. But not everyone has the same motivations I do.
7. Blogging on a weekly basis allows me to evaluate my teaching far more effectively than I otherwise would — which helps me minimize some of the more unpleasant aspects of my job.
8. Adapting to new technology never gets easier, but learned helplessness is just not my thing. I will try to figure it out, and if I can’t, I’ll try to find someone who can. Unfortunately this seems to put me in a distinct minority in certain academic circles, given that technological adaptation rarely drives curricular design and delivery. Undergraduate programs in the humanities and social sciences will probably continue to wither as a result.
9. I do some of my best thinking when I alter my environment. On pre-dawn runs. In airport terminals. While sitting on a balcony in Belize. I should do more of this.
10. I’ve learned that one can’t be a prophet in one’s own land. Institutions can preserve the problem to which they have been the solution for only so long, and then they tend to catastrophically fail because of self-organized criticality or some other process. So often it’s easier to just watch the flood waters rise while sitting on high ground, glass of lemonade in hand.