What to make of this?
It's an important conversation to have. I wouldn't spend my time working on clavi non defixi if I didn't think the blog served some useful purpose, so I am sympathetic to the concerns of the report writers. But I also fall squarely in the skeptic camp when the possibility is suggested of some more official or permanent status for blogging. I'll set aside issues of religion journalism on blogs, as that is not my personal concern. I am mostly thinking of blogging related to academic work.
Clavi Non Defixi has always leaned heavily on the nuts and bolts of academic work in theology. While I occasionally editorialize, I try to keep the commentary directed towards matters of academic work, and I try to balance it with non-editorial updates on what is going on in academic theology. You will rarely find longer essay-format pieces on theological questions here, and when I do write longer pieces, it is usually not a work of my own, but rather an extended consideration of something that's going on... a newly published article, a school of thought that is emerging, a presidential hiring or a professorial firing, etc. I don't tend to post block quotes that I find inspiring, or material about politics, pop-culture, etc. I am not here to be pastoral. It's not that I think these things are necessarily bad reasons to blog, they're just not the reasons why I blog.
I am also not here out of any desire to make blogs into something more than they are. Blogs are highly ephemeral, and they usually have no peer-review whatsoever. These qualities are very good for some purposes, and not for others. I see blogs as ancillary to more central aspects of academic work in theology, and ideally not as a center of activity. I've found blogging useful for meeting fellow academics that I would not have otherwise met, and for sharing information in a more extended setting than usual geographic constraints would permit. But I am not eager to actually do much extended theological work on my blog. I'm sure none of this comes as any surprise to regular readers.
The report mentions me at the bottom of Section 2, on "Blogging and academia":
Several contributors to The Immanent Frame have published revised versions of the ideas they originally presented on the blog, demonstrating the potential for such sites to serve not only as forms of publicity for finished scholarly work, but also as part of an ongoing, collective, and public endeavor to advance knowledge. On the other hand, when The Immanent Frame began to offer sample academic citations for citing its posts, it stirred a stern reply at the blog Clavi Non Defixi: “Are blogs ‘legitimate piece[s] of academic writing’? God help us… no” (Kuehn 2008).It struck me as a bit ironic that the report saw fit to cite me talking about how I thought it was problematic to cite blogs and take them too seriously as academic writing. By way of object lesson, then, I felt compelled to delete the post that the report cited. You can no longer reach it through the report's hypertext bibliography. I do hope that the folks at the Immanent Frame took my comments about the ephemeral nature of blogging to heart, and archived my post before I decided to delete it. I'm guessing, however, that they didn't.
The comments from Adam Kotsko and Brian Leiter in section 2 are pretty much where I fall on this. It's also worthwhile to note that Kotsko and Leiter are both quite active bloggers... so the point isn't to dismiss blogging as a useful activity. Both of them have also published in open-access journals (which I am more nervous about myself, for better or worse), so they are quite open to the prospects of academic work online.
The rest of the report is worth looking at, although a lot of it is not directly related to theology blogging. It would be helpful to see a fuller discussion of academic blogging, as journalistic blogging is a quite different beast and brings up different questions. In section 4, the question of "gaps in the field" was raised, and various bloggers voiced their personal thoughts. Ben Myers suggested that lack of diversity was a major problem in theology blogging, and I think that this is accurate. This question of gaps might be worth entertaining further, here or elsewhere.