Sunday, May 4, 2014


I was going to write a post last week marking the 5th year of the Spew (my very first post is here), but I ended up focusing on my testimony to the Canadian Parliament instead.  So, here's my belated take on five years of blogging.

I am in a much different place now than five years ago--not just Ottawa versus Montreal, but all that came with transition and then some.  I am now at a policy school were public engagement and policy relevance are more directly part of the mission.  When I started, I was looking to move, and now that I have moved, and I am not thinking about moving again.  I was pretty frustrated when I started blogging, and am pretty damn happy these days. 

Anyhow, blogging has been very, very good to me (cannot find the classic SNL video to insert here, sorry).  How so?
  • Writing many posts about the Canadian experience in Afghanistan proved to be most useful practice for when I started writing my next book.  I essentially had most of the rough draft already drafted in small hunks.
  • Blogging has certainly helped me gain twitter followers.  I joined twitter a few months after blogging, and the two social media platforms have fed off each other.  Twitter conversations inspire blog posts, and I refer to and certainly promote my blog via twitter. 
  • It gave the experience and the visibility that led to a couple of cool clubs: The Duck of Minerva, Political Violence at a Glance, and the Canadian International Council.  As I always felt more like Rudolph, that blogging has given me membership in these places means a lot to me.  The founder of the Duck of Minerva always seemed amused when I asked him of a Spew post was Duck-worthy.  I always felt that with a greater audience comes greater responsibility (yes, invoking Ben Parker is an easy and old habit here).  I still have to figure out which piece goes where, but that is a good problem to have.  Multiple outlets does mean that I post here a bit less than when I started.  I am more comfortable now having a post-less day or two, mostly when I travel but sometimes when I am simply fried.
  • Between the blog itself and the resulting fora mentioned above, I do have far more visibility than I used to have.  Most of my posts are read by less than a hundred people, but I have had a few posts go viral, mostly those on the profession but also some that deploy my research/understandings of ethnic conflict and one that had applied pop culture to current events.  My NATO posts thus far have not gotten so much attention although they probably have helped increase sales of the book.  The CIC posts have sometimes led to op-eds at the Globe and Mail, which means a vaster readership than any Spew receives.  
  • This, in turn, almost certainly led to last week's appearance before the Standing Committee on National Defence.  
I still kind of blush and stammer when people say nice things about my blogging, but I tend to respond poorly to compliments in general (despite fishing for them constantly).  But I am proud of many of my posts and am embarrassed by only a few.  I do think I have made a contribution to getting this social science stuff out beyond the ivory tower.  I promote not just myself but also the best work that I have read.  I have provided heaps of advice, mostly unsolicited, about the profession, including tips on CV writing.

I did not expect to become such a fan and even blog-evangelist when I started.  But it has worked out so well for me in a variety of ways that I cannot help but promote it.  Not everyone should blog, but I do think that every institution should have one, which has led to NPSIA's blog

I wonder what the next five years of blogging will bring, but if it is half as positive than the last five, then I will be most thrilled.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on 5 years Steve.