When I launched this blog a couple of months ago, it raised the question amongst geographers and other social scientists as to whether blogs are a good way of disseminating our research findings and communicating with new audiences beyond academia. The responses were mixed. For some blogs have a short lifespan and are only available to those audiences willing to regularly check the latest posts. For others – blogs and other online media offer a direct and accessible approach to research dissemination.
I have advertised this blog on an academic geography forum, via email to Science Museum staff and the online forums of my research participants. The response has been fantastic.
For those of you interested, my response to posts on the crit-geog forum – (itself a useful took for communication between geographers) is pasted below:
My reasons for creating a blog were diverse. Ultimately it came down to the practicality of setting-up, organising and maintaining/updating the information I wanted online. WordPress.com and other online companies offera virtual space readily accessible to those of us creating a site online (see also http://nigelthrift.org/ and those cited in the previous post). However, as someone that uses the Internet regularly to access journals and other online resources, as well as to visit other blogs/sites (see for example http://techstyle.typepad.com/ and http://fretmarks.blogspot.com/), the benefits are clearly there. I am sure I am not alone in including on a research proposal to a funding council that “I will also create an associated project website”; this is MY associated website that is available to all to publicise my research not only to geographers but also more importantly to my research participants. Okay, perhaps BLOG is the wrong word to use in this instance, it is more like a regularly updated web resource – a virtual space that I hope will encourage fellow geographers to check in now and again to see what is new.
David Crouch’s earlier comment – ‘why on earth a blog’– raises further useful questions in relation to the public geographies often discussed here on the crit-geog-forum (also a regularly updated web resource). Many ‘Critters’ are keen to make their work relevant to audiences beyond academic geography – through collaboration with private and public organisations, as well as through feeding their research back into policy and the communities they research. The Internet offers perhaps the most readily accessible tool for just such a purpose. I freely acknowledge that the shelf-life of such ventures is varied and can be short-lived, but surely such sites are a step in the right direction.
I therefore encourage Critters to visit my site (https://hilarygeoghegan.wordpress.com), and others like it, in order to foster an online culture of communicating, disseminating and feeding back – helping geography to become MORE public and not just a good intention on a research proposal.