Its been somewhat quiet around here for the past few days, as many of us are attending the annual meeting of the International Studies Association in New York. Internet access at the convention hotel is spotty–there is wireless available in the rooms and expansive main lobby but it costs something like $10-$15 / day, which is far more than any of us on limited travel budgets can afford, hence no live updates.
I think, though, that blogging and its complex relationship to the academy in our field may be turning a corner with this ISA. I was in a panel on “Waltz’s World” which was one of those high-profile panels with big names in a large ballroom that was packed with participants eager to hear reflections on the 30th anniversary of the publication of what is perhaps the single most significant book in our field. In her introductory remarks, one of the panelists mentioned Herz and his contributions to the field, referencing Stephen Walt’s recent comments that he’s perhaps one of IR’s underrated scholars.
Note the link there–that’s right, its to Walt’s blog. She revealed that 1) she reads (or read) his blog, 2) that she assumes we, the large audience, were also familiar with Walt’s blog, and 3) that this is a meaningful way for us to hold some of our professional discussions.
In the “old days” the word on the street was don’t let your department know you blog because you’ll end up like Drezner and get denied tenure. Now it seems the conversation is a little different, as Drezner is doing just fine in his new job with his new blog, and a number of other blogs by IR scholars have surfaced offering a rich discussion of the substance of our field. We (and the others) have a nice blog-role of such sites. We (and others) do talk about fun stuff, offer commentary on current events, but we all also post research notes, insights from our scholarship, and reminders of what the theories and findings of our discipline say about unfolding international events.
Maybe fodder for an “innovative panel” in New Orleans….
(why the big to-do over Walt? Because he’s Stephen Walt. Lots of people have been discussing his Valentine’s Day post, everything from I thought it was cute to that just proves that the Feminists were right and realism is completely gendered. He’s at Harvard. Origins of Alliances. And, he’s got a 17 on influence and 8 on most interesting scholarship in the TRIPS report (pdf) which is to say he’s a big deal in the field in a sabr-metric kind of way)