Blogging and Writing a Dissertation

Let’s admit this right away: this is not my first attempt to write a blog. Writing a blog is not easy and there are many reasons why one perhaps should not even start one; the lack of time or, which is even worse, the lack of ideas.

We see the lack of ideas often replaced by the excess of opinions. And as we know, ‘opinions are like assholes. Everybody has one’. To be a bit more elaborate we can turn to Deleuze and Guattari, who in What is Philopsophy? declare a war against opinions. For them the “essence of opinion is will to majority and already speaks in the name of a majority” (p.146). Opinions work in the field of clichés and recognitions. They do not create new but affirm pre-established thoughts and ready-made routines.

There is a certain dominant opinion against which my PhD project started and which has also led to the beginning of this blog. This opinion is that network culture is all about connections. Indeed it is nearly always defined as culture of connection. Whether it is about connecting people, connecting nodes or connecting ideas the concept of disconnection is forgotten and neglected in these discourses. My dissertation takes disconnection as its central theme and points out how in many ways networks are formed around it instead of connection. Moving between technologies of culture and cultures of technology disconnection is conceived not only as a technical term but also political and philosophical concept.

Now let’s return from my dissertation to this blog. In Twitter I asked my colleagues Paul Caplan and Robert Jackson about the usefulness of writing a blog along with dissertation. Both of them agreed that blogging is useful. However their ideas of what and how it should be used differed.

For Caplan thinking happens through writing “It is only in writing ‘stuff’, creating word-objects, that my ideas form, reform, connect and reconnect within other word-objects”. Blog for him is a platform for thought. Thinking is a process and the blog shows this process. Hence it doesn’t really matter if ideas are incomplete – they are always in becoming. Jackson agrees but is a bit more cautious of throwing in ‘half-baked’ ideas.

I think there are two main points to be cautious. Firstly some of the ideas are simply bad or undone and you just want to forget them. If they are not useful to you they probably aren’t for anyone. Secondly, and this is something we’ve been warned in doctoral school for example, ideas are something that can be stolen. Especially when writing a dissertation you don’t want to give out too much.

So to sum this up: what is the goal for this blog? I am of course writing about the stuff I am researching. Not necessarily something that will be published, but something that circulates around my topic, crosses it and returns back again. One the one hand this is the starting point for writing an introduction for the dissertation. The selection of what is potentially included, not only in the text but also to the concept of disconnection. On the other this is a platform where ideas emerge and where they are archived.

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2 thoughts on “Blogging and Writing a Dissertation

  1. Ooo I love the idea of paranoia as something we are taught in doctoral school. Heh you’re probably right. Somebody somewhere is knocking off a book on JPEG and object oriented philosophy as we speak and it’ll be thrown back at me in my viva. Well heh my blog post/drafts are all date stamped and frankly I’d rather have my ideas out there searchable, linkable and open for two reasons: 1) It lets people know I’m doing stuff, and 2) There aren’t gonna be any academic jobs when my funding runs out so if I have a site full of stuff, maybe some connections I’ve made outside the academic bubble might have a job… or be willing to start a business with me – new open, mobile publishing anyone? Oh and frankly writing a PhD is such hard work anyway I don’t need paranoia too. Now back to plagiarising some stuff on AR!

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