Sunday, December 29, 2013

2013 Spew In Review

I don't know if I wrote more in 2013 than in any other year, but it sure felt like it.  I did average fewer blog posts at The Spew, but kept up a four columns a month average at Canadian International Council, relatively frequent posts at the Duck of Minerva, occasional posts at Political Violence at a Glance, the cross-posts at NPSIA's blog, a few other random online posts during the year, one book (the Canada one as the NATO one was in process), one grant app, lots of letters of recommendations, multiple tenure reviews, and other stuff that is currently escaping  my memory.  I do think that this was the year that I started thinking of myself as a writer, even though I have been writing for as long as I have been professing--2013 marked twenty years of that--or even longer really--due to my dissertation.

So, I thought I would consider some of the highlights of my year in writing.  Consider this a classic case of narcissism that helped to spur the origins of this blog.  I start with the Spew here and then my next post will be on the other stuff.

The year in Spew's highlights would have to be:
  • Why I didn't Quit Academia: With so many people so depressed about the professorial life/ambition, I responded to a call for the other side.  It got nearly a thousand hits here and more then at the Duck.  Not entirely a popular post, since many folks got out, but it was not a bad time for me to reflect, as I mentioned above, 2013 marked 20 years since my first year on the job market and my first (albeit temporary) job.
  • My Favorite Recent-ish Poli Sci Books: I had a secret agenda with this piece that was not so secret.  That it got a heap of hits was a great outcome, given what I was trying to do. 
  • The Draft for the Breaking Bad Game: It did not go perfectly, but using my blog as a place where folks could make their draft picks made this the most commented post of the year.  Kind of gamed, of course.  But it was a fun game with heaps of related posts, tweets and facebook comments along the way.  So, it belongs on any list of my year in blogging.  Thanks players.  Next game would have to be Mad Men's endgame, right?  How does one develop a game about that?
  • Rules for Twitter, Maybe?   This piece was a highlight for two reasons--it produced an extended conversation in the comments between myself and the person who wrote the piece that triggered my post; and there is heaps of uncertainty about how to tweet.  Lots of folks want to suggest rules.  I am not sure what kind of rules make sense--this piece puzzled that out.
  • Public Outreach and Tenure Decisions.  This post addressed a controversial tenure denial (although most are controversial), as people over-estimate often the role of public outreach stuff in how one is rewarded in academia.  I think it is important (one of the reasons I have been writing so much), but that it is just one facet of a less key component (service).  My key argument here is that doing lots of media stuff may have little or nothing to do with the quality of one's work but availability and randomness.  Tenure is and should be about the research and the teaching with the mix of that stuff varying depending on the nature of the institution.
  • Top Ten Signs That You Might Be An Elite Condescender:  I was encouraged by twitter friends to respond to a Stephen Walt post, and I ended up diving deeply into my snark reservoir.  Got more than 2k hits, which say something (probably not good) about what gets attention online.
  • Applying IR Theory To Iron Man 3.  I enjoy a good application of IR to pop culture, especially a hunk of Marvel.
  • My three days of responses to a set of Max Fisher posts at the Washington Post on research on xenophobia.  My first piece got the second hits in 2013.  The second piece was among my year's most viewed posts as well.  The third? Way above average.  Apparently, my trilogy is like many---declining returns.  Seriously though, I was very jazzed about this set of posts not just because it got heaps of attention but that attention came in larger part from outside academia.  Plus it was stuff that allowed me to summon years of my thinking on this stuff and apply it to current debates and to de-myth a broad audience. Definitely the blogging highlight of the year.
  • Mama, Don't Let Your Kids Become Political Scientists:   I looked at some figures APSA produced about the academic job markets for the past few years, got depressed and posted this.  It might help us understand the venom at the Political Science Rumors site.
  • Adjuncting Mystery: I asked why do people adjunct, giving how little it pays.  Wow! This piece got the most hits of anything I wrote in 2013, as it got mentioned by Sarah Kendzior at Al Jazeera.  It also got nearly thirty comments of conversation.  
  • Leaving Grand Theorists Behind: This piece takes on an article that Mearsheimer and Walt were circulating.  I was initially reluctant to engage with it, as I would have to read the entire thing.  Lots of my best/most cited posts (best and most cited are probably not the same thing) are ones that I start with reluctance.  Apparently, lots of people really care about IR theory OR they just like a good fight.
  • My 2013 started with a post about gallons of milk coming in bags or jugs.  A silly way to start the year but it led to some fun stuff along the way.

The apparent trend here is that I get the most hits when I write about the profession rather than when I write about pretty much anything else.  Which makes sense since the profession is my network and stuff that gets my network excited gets more attention.  Still, I was glad to see that some of the stuff I wrote this year on the actual stuff (ethnic conflict, for instance) hit more eyeballs.  Also, a significant hunk of the stuff on this list was written in response to people asking me on twitter or elsewhere to write, so my friends know well what I can write about. 

Anyhow, the year in Spew was less voluminous than in previous years, but I did write some stuff this year that contributed to some important conversations.  Which makes it all worthwhile.

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