In all seriousness, I think this is a very interesting experiment in applying an online concept to an offline product.
I first noticed the July 22 First Person column in the Chronicle of Higher Education, as I'm sure many librarians did, because of the opening paragraph about sex in the library. The author goes on to talk about the "almost erotic" intellectual experiences made possible by browsing the stacks, and laments the trend toward computer- and coffeeshop-filled "learning commons".
Then, I get to the end of the column and find that "Thomas H. Benton is the pseudonym of an assistant professor of English at a Midwestern liberal-arts college." Now why would you need to use a pseudonym to write that books help your research? Are you applying for a job in Ivan Tribble's department and afraid that he'll think your Chronicle column is a blog? Do Midwestern liberal-arts colleges prohibit their faculty from column-writing? It's not as if Benton admits to having had sex in the stacks.
I don't have anything against pseudonymous writers in general, and I understand why many of the Chronicle's Careers columns are pseudonymous (especially those from candidates' perspectives), but I tend to take critiques of my profession a bit more seriously when the authors sign their real names.
Despite the fact that the author himself is a grad student who blogs, he says:
Ultimately, I think the answer to this dilemma is pretty clear: graduate students simply should not blog, and if they do blog they should never do so under their real names.
I see the reasons (not necessarily illegal actions by hiring committees, but simply that students should be putting their efforts into writing that will be recognized in a positive light by hiring committees, i.e. articles in peer-reviewed journals) but they leave me with a queasy feeling. Do we really want to encourage a culture of scholars who are so highly specialized that they don't have any outside interests? Who are so afraid of what a hiring committee might think that they never feel comfortable speaking their minds?
All this is reminding me why I chose to go to library school rather than to pursue a PhD as my advisor was encouraging me to do.
I'm awful proud that diy librarian is on the librarian.net blogroll at the moment. So proud that I realized I hadn't posted anything yet this month and it's half over! Shame on me.
Partly it's that I haven't had anything to say that hadn't already been said somewhere, and partly it's that I've been busy at work and at home.
Michael McGrorty (Library Dust) and Karen Schneider (Free Range Librarian) have both commented about the pseudonymous column Bloggers Need Not Apply from the July 8 Chronicle of Higher Education. I'm sure most bloggers are aware that a public blog can both help and hurt you in a job search, as Schneider says. And I would hope that most people who make hiring decisions are aware, as McGrorty points out, that invading a candidate's privacy and using irrelevant factors to evaluate candidates is not OK. So I won't go into that—the fact that I write this blog and link to my profile on my employer's web site should tell you my thoughts on the matter.
One line in particular from "Ivan Tribble" really struck me, though:
But the site quickly revealed that the true passion of said blogger's life was not academe at all, but the minutiae of software systems, server hardware, and other tech exotica. It's one thing to be proficient in Microsoft Office applications or HTML, but we can't afford to have our new hire ditching us to hang out in computer science after a few weeks on the job.
So now, in addition to not being allowed to have blogs, candidates are not allowed to have interests outside of their jobs? Even when said interests might be beneficial to a more open-minded employer? You would think a "a small liberal-arts college in the Midwest" might be interested in well-rounded candidates.