Why Blog Now? An Introduction

10 March 2023, 0900 EST

The blogosphere peaked somewhere in the mid-2000s, so why would anyone start blogging in 2023? That is the question I asked myself when Dan Nexon asked me if I would be interested in joining The Duck as a term blogger.

I entered the University of Miami as a Political Science major in 2009, and within my first couple years there, I took an interest in International Relations (IR). Beyond my classes at Miami, the blogosphere was one of my first points of connection to the discipline.

By the time I became aware of academic blogging, it was becoming increasingly accepted as a supplement to traditional scholarly publishing. Foreign Policy hosted blogs by the likes of Daniel Drezner, Marc Lynch, and Stephen Walt. The Monkey Cage published policy-oriented pieces based on research from across Political Science. The Mischiefs of Faction gave me a view into the study of American politics.

The Monkey Cage would become associated with The Washington Post in 2013, and Drezner followed in 2014. The Mischiefs of Faction similarly gained a platform at Vox in 2015.

Blogging became a sufficiently prominent and somehow controversial practice that the International Studies Association considered crafting a policy on the matter: “No editor of any ISA journal or member of any editorial team of an ISA journal can create or actively manage a blog unless it is an official blog of the editor’s journal or the editorial team’s journal.” The 2014 proposal went nowhere.

The online ecosystem of public-facing work by political scientists continues to change. The Washington Post and Vox no longer host the aforementioned blogs. While #AcademicTwitter may muddle through the changes wrought by Elon Musk, many are now looking to alternatives like Substack, Post, and Mastodon.

The Duck too has changed over time. Dan Nexon founded it in 2005, and he, Patrick Thaddeus Jackson, and Rodger Payne would be the three primary contributors in its early days. The masthead has changed since then, and so has the content published here. But I have enjoyed The Duck since stumbling upon it in my college days for its deep dives on IR theory and methods, its occasional debates and forums, and its musings on all things academic.

Nexon was once asked, “What is academic blogging for?” He responded, “The correct question should be: what is academic blogging not for? Specific academic blogs may wear a variety of different hats – from promoting research, to working out ideas, to engaging with policy questions, to forwarding a particular field of study, to commiserating about the profession, to writing about sports, to just about anything else that you might imagine.”

As a term blogger, I intend to take a cue from Dan. I will be writing on various topics for all sorts of reasons, but I will be doing so while keeping in mind what attracted me to The Duck as an undergrad.