About face


I’ve wholly changed the ‘about‘ for the site. You can learn more about me that way.

I’m still new to blogging. Just like playing an instrument or wrangling a bullet ant, being a dutiful observer doesn’t mean that you can do it well. I’m still learning. Even if the blog isn’t about me, it’s my blog and being forthright about that fact is part of doing it well.

I’m psyched about how the blog is coming along. I particularly want to thank Jeremy Fox and his blog, Dynamic Ecology, which has been particularly supportive. I don’t want to blog about blogging, so I’ll just shut up. Thanks for reading.

6 thoughts on “About face

  1. Interestingly, there are cultures and professions that do take the view that just watching an expert for a while should allow you to then do something well. I’ve heard that this is basically how sushi chefs in Japan are trained–they just spend a long time watching a master. Don’t know if that’s true, or that same approach would work for “learning to blog”.😉

    I’m glad you’ve found my suggestions and example helpful, but I think you’d have been just fine on your own. I really have no idea how you crank out so many substantive posts so fast. Next time someone who likes my blogging says to me “I don’t know how you do it”, I’m going to reply “Don’t ask me, ask Terry–and then tell me what he says, because I’d like to know too.”😉

  2. Thanks. Your input’s been helpful, as a model for what makes an interesting blog as well as by seeing how people respond. And, of course, for letting people know it exists. I suppose if I never read blogs this would’ve been quite ugly. A sushi analogy is better than a sausage-making one.

    The advice to make sure that I have something every (week)day really made me think about my goals more. To do this well, I need to post well once in a while, and to be exceptional I need to post well frequently. If I’m going to do it, I want to do it right. Essentially I’ve put myself out there as a model for a person who can do what I do. Lord knows I’m not authoritative or the best example, but at least a model of one workable possibility. If the blog sucks, that tacitly communicates to grad students and postdocs that it’s not possible to teach and research (and blog) in a job like mine. In fact, it’s not only possible, it’s really mighty fun and do-able.

    I’ve made a huge list of hit-and-run short topics to bring up when busy, that wouldn’t be much time on my part but still be interesting. Then, when writing, I find that I can’t not do justice to writing more. So it grows. (For instance, I imagined the bit on undergraduate research offices started out as a paragraph in my mind). Right now, my only problem is stopping myself from writing. (I’m sure as months pass, that’ll change, especially when field season hits.)

  3. Yes, I have a list of “ideas for future blog posts” that I keep offline (I used to keep it as a draft post in WordPress, until one day I accidentally clicked “post”). Mostly longer posts, because I find that my ideas for short posts come from reading and hearing stuff and wanting to comment briefly. These days, those hit-and-run things all go into the Friday linkfest post, because if I did separate posts on each of them some readers would feel like I was posting too often.

    Yeah, I’ve found the same thing–I have to stop myself from blogging sometimes. That’s the best sign that you really want to do it. Chris Klausmeier tried to use joining Dynamic Ecology as a commitment device to force himself to write more, because he hates writing. It didn’t work, and so he left when he trial period was over. But as you say, life does intervene. Part of the reason I invited Meg, Brian (and Chris) in was that I knew it was soon going to become more difficult for me to keep up my previous pace of substantive posts (I could easily keep up a high pace if all I did was short quickie posts, but that’s not what I or my readers want). Right now I think it’s working, but we’ll see how it goes. If there’s ever a lengthy stretch when Meg, Brian, and I all are finding it difficult to write substantive posts, we might have to invite more people on board.

  4. Terry,
    It is fascinating to me how our careers overlapped in so many ways (the ant stuff, my first job was at a teaching University with a 4/4 load and I coordinated the teacher training program for the Biology Department, etc., etc.). I’m also a little disappointed in myself that we never chatted much about the commonalities, despite regularly crossing paths at various anty meetings. Part of that is my introverted tendencies. Anyhow, I’m enjoying the blog and it has really filled a niche. Over the years I’ve crossed paths with many grad. students and I always give them this advice: statistically you are more likely to wind up at a liberal arts or teaching college than an R1, unless you just leave academia entirely. Learn to teach, learn to work on a limited budget, and get over the arrogance of many of the research oriented Unis. I think many of your posts are summarizing what many of us who have followed this path have experienced. Now that I’m at an R1, I really do miss some of aspects of being at a teaching institution (especially smaller classes). Keep up the nice work.

  5. Thanks, Josh. When I see you, I want to talk ants, man. Or, for that matter, anything but teaching or my university. I think when we’ve both been at meetings, we’ve been busy communicating our science. At least on my end, I feel like I need to work against stereotype and show people that despite the name of the institution on my nametag, that I’m doing good stuff. If my teaching load even comes up in conversation, then, well, I’m out of the club. Thanks for reading. I’ll want to talk to you about the switch to UCF, for sure. Cheers!

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