The Duck of Minerva

The Duck Quacks at Twilight

More late post-ISA thoughts

February 26, 2010

I, like Laura, am a bit slow off the take regarding post-ISA blogging. In my defence I have a 6-hour jet-lag that was aggravated by United Airlines being successful in severely messing up every single segment of my flight to New Orleans and back. (The friendly skies? More like the unfriendly kick in the… oh forget it.)

Certainly one of the highlights for me was the panel (already discussed here, here , here and here) on international relations, academia and blogging. I don’t want to beat a dead horse, but I did want to add my $0.02 (~£0.013) It was great to see Dan Drezner, Stephen Walt, William Winecoff, Robert Farley and DoM’s Charli Carpenter discuss the implications of the medium for the dissemination of knowledge, risks to tenure (at least in the US) and use to policy makers. Joe Nye was the dissenting voice and was more sceptical of the enterprise (although this has not stopped him from contributing to the Huffington Post). I’ve been doing this for nearly two months now so, as a newbie, I found this quite useful.

A couple of observations from the panel:

  • Charli was the only woman on the panel and I’m struggling to think of other women bloggers out there in international relations blogging. Charli was fantastic and presented a rather scholarly view of the subject. But it got me wondering as to whether there is actually a dearth of female IR bloggers out there and for what reasons this might be? Is it the whole tenure risk thing – that blogging may be seen as a liability rather than as something neutral or even beneficial? Is it that we’re all just busy trying to get published in “traditional” forms for the same reason? Is it that we feel that we’re already having problems being taken seriously in a discipline? Or is there just a barrier to new entrants – and most of the “old guard” happens to be men?
  • I asked a question about academia and “snark” – exactly which tone should we be using when we blog? Joe Nye made an analogy that taking a bad or rude tone online was akin to posting naked photos of yourself before a job interview. (I could say so much here, but I don’t want to be too…. snarky.) Stephen Walt said that he just took a boring tone (although his posts are almost always interesting so I’m not sure he’s being fair to himself.) Dan and Charli took a different view of “snark” however. They both argued that if “snark” was understood as “wit” then it was to be welcomed and may serve to make dissemination of information more fun and blogging more enjoyable. (As you can probably tell, I take the latter view – most of us are doing it because we like it. It needs to be at least a little fun.)
  • Of course one might expect this from a panel of mostly successful bloggers, but there was a real sense that it has already become a force to be reckoned with and that it is increasingly being taken seriously. And perhaps nothing illustrated this point better than the fact that the room was pretty packed. It may have been that there were big names on the panel, but I felt that people were genuinely interested in what these individuals had to say about blogging.

Other minor observations about ISA this year:

  • I couldn’t agree more with Jon’s post on the state of New Orleans. While the area we stayed in was largely damage-free, the city was clearly still in recovery mode. But what was so inspiring to see was how happy the New Orleans Saints Superbowl win had made so many people I can’t tell you how many times I heard “we needed this”. They clearly did.
  • At the same time, “WHO DAT”, even to a Saints fan, becomes a little tiresome after six days or so.
  • If you are staying in a hotel in New Orleans during Mardi Gras, please check for assorted random objects under your bed before you unpack. Trust me. Just think of it as a very sordid treasure hunt.

More to come on human rights, civilian casualties – but first I still need to unpack.

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Stephanie Carvin is an Associate Professor of International Relations at the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs. Her research interests are in the area of international law, security, terrorism and technology. Currently, she is teaching in the areas of critical infrastructure protection, technology and warfare and foreign policy.

Stephanie holds a PhD from the London School of Economics and published her thesis as Prisoners of America’s Wars: From the Early Republic to Guantanamo (Columbia/Hurst, 2010). Her most recent book is Science, Law, Liberalism and the American Way of Warfare: The Quest for Humanity in Conflict” (Cambridge, 2015) co-authored with Michael J. Williams. In 2009 Carvin was a Visiting Scholar at George Washington University Law School and worked as a consultant to the US Department of Defense Law of War Working Group. From 2012-2015, she was an analyst with the Government of Canada focusing on national security issues.
Stacie Goddard