Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Fewer Autism Blogs, Infrequent Posts?

I haven't been posting much to The Autistic Me blog in the last six months or so. I could list all the excuses, and there are many, but I've noticed that my blog isn't alone with less frequent updates. I've also noticed many blogs have either been abandoned or changed managers/authors in the last year. My "autism" group in NetNewsWire, my RSS reader of choice, is shrinking. On the Autism-Hub site, some pages haven't been updated in six months. Only ten have been updated within the last 30 days.

What's happened? Have we all shifted to Facebook? I doubt it.

Maybe we are exhausted, as a community? That seems plausible, after several busy years. Maybe there will be another spike in discussions once the new DSM-V is published, but we might have exhausted those debates, too. Opinions seem fairly set on many of the subjects.

Blogging requires some compulsion to address a topic, or at least to tell a personal story. I'm not sure why anyone would care about our daily lives.

There aren't many exciting topics to address in a blog. My wife and I are a normal couple, living in a nice new development, with normal (boring) concerns about life. We are preparing to sell our previous house, we are hoping the Jeep lasts another year or two, and we are trying to get some time to decorate our new house. Nothing exciting, nothing unusual. Having a normal life, relatively speaking, is not a bad thing.

Yes, there are still "autistic" issues, but they aren't that interesting. I don't like Pittsburgh's disorder and over-stimulation, but we live closer to Boardman, Ohio, anyway, so shopping and eating in Ohio is becoming part of our routine. I want our house to be perfect, but that will be a matter of time and energy. Paint needs to be touched up and I want to get some bookcases installed. Again, my intolerance for disorder and "mistakes" in the house is nothing exciting or particularly interesting. (I still hate flaws in the Minneapolis house, and we sold that home a year ago.)

Trying to work side jobs is one reason I haven't blogged. We're paying for two home loans, at the moment, and both homes need minor improvements. The old house is nearly done, though. Once it is sold, I want extra income so we can finish some projects around the new house.

I'm applying for a few academic posts, nearby, because my contract ends in April. Again, not exciting: people have to look for work. Welcome to a weak economy and the world of higher education, which has been a tough job market for two decades or longer. If I don't locate another academic post, I'll be doing something else — whatever I need to do. Being uncertain about the future worries me. It worries my wife. Nothing unusual about a couple wondering what's next when a job is going to end. (Okay, I am anxious, hoping I'll either find a good job or be able to create a good job for myself.)

The one thing that is on my mind is how isolated we are, my wife and I, compared to other people. We don't entertain at our house: we don't know that many people. We don't go out to bars, clubs, or movies. We keep to ourselves. Sometimes, I do wonder if we should have some sort of social network. We are trying to be a little involved in some local groups, but we both find social gatherings stressful. In the end, I find that I like being alone with my wife, the one person I seem to understand well.

As you can tell from this rambling post, I don't have much to say that is captivating.

If there is something I should be writing, I'm uncertain of what it might be. Maybe you have some suggestions. Maybe there is something people expect when they visit this blog.

8 comments:

  1. I have noticed the decline in Autistic Blogging too. On line activity seems to go in waves, and the web is essentially an ephemeral place. I encountered a web page (nothing to do with Autism) that I put up way back in 1997, and most of the links from that were dead.

    I can recall the first great wave of Autistic web sites in the late 90's early 2000's. How many are there now, or if they are, are being updated. I think the blog phenomena contributed to a freezing of those laborious to code and harder to maintain web pages, as it was easier to keep up with. However we seem to be declining into the status of Tweeters with nothing but a collection of soundbytes to our name rather than the in depth analysis and content that blogging or web sites afford.

    As for me, I have moved over to Journal Publishing, you are welcome to contribute to that. Requires the effort to write something longer than the average blog update though. I am hoping however to redeem a lot of lost and semi lost material by giving it an official academic airing.

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  2. The challenge will be having voices heard, which blogging had some promise to do. As an academic, I know writing for that audience reaches a small niche, usually not parents and friends. Still, anything is better than Twitter dominating the discussion.

    To submit to a journal, my university has to pre-approve it as "A" scholarship. Learned the hard way that sometimes pre-approval of "A" isn't sufficient, either. The emphasis on status (the "right" journals, edited by the "right" universities) is somewhat understandable, but it also limits what might be valuable avenues for publication.

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  3. What a strange University. How do they know what a new journal will become? Everything has to start from basics. Are you telling me they censor you to that extent? I know my Uni censors my blog, but that was because were more afraid of Autism Speaks than I am.

    I do believe there are important debates to be fought out in Academia, and that even within the same University, faculties are not speaking to each other. Impact is everything and truth matters little so long as the research continues to get funded and everyone gets paid.

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    1. At least in the U.S., there is an emphasis on the "R1/R2/Non-Research" criteria. For anything to be "serious" it must be endorsed by the Carnegie Research 1 universities. That's a small group of elite institutions that set the "Gold Standards" for research and publishing.

      "A" scholarship is defined in our faculty handbooks, and you need a certain number of "A" works to qualify for tenure. "B" scholarship is recognized, but doesn't count towards anything. Conferences and presentations are "B" scholarship, for example.

      I don't know what the rest of the world is like, but we definitely have a caste system of sorts in academia. We give weight to some journals and publishers, so people then cite them more. The more something is cited, the more weight it is given — it becomes a self-fulfilling cycle. You cite what has the most citations, leading to more citations! Good ideas in smaller journals and from smaller universities might be overlooked.

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    2. I guess the Carnegie Universities are like the "Russel" group of "research led" Universities here. Somewhat elitist.

      I have felt for sometime that the commercial side of the academic publishing world has been stifling the very cause it aims to promote, that is to say the wide distribution of peer reviewed research, because that research is only available to anyone who has a subscription, and that usually means being affiliated to a University as I don't think any but the most wealthy private individuals can afford to "pay per view".

      It has also led to a decline in the standards of papers in my opinion, because of this drive for Impact, above authenticity, which means papers are passed and published by narrow self supporting circles of researchers who largely cite each other. It is also very hard for someone on the lower rungs of academia to penetrate that culture. Very self defeating.

      I see open journals as a good response to this, and in the long run, because more people can access them they will lead to greater real Impact. Of course the Ivory Tower professors will worry about standards.

      In the meantime the freely available blog world, is often "quote mined" by lazy scholars who feel that they need to give no acknowledgement to what they reproduce because it is made freely available. I have yet to be cited for something I have said in an academic context, because that would entirely come under what you describe as "B" scholarship even when it has been published or archived. I have found myself quoted (from a narrow range of material on my web site) in various books, and some papers largely as a self narrating zoo exhibit, and that by people who ought to know better aswell.

      Still, I have started a journal and even if it never breaks into the ranks of "A" scholarship, at least you don't have to be an academic to read it.

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    3. I have studied (and do study) blogs on various issues and it is sad commentary on academia that we do not credit the sources often enough. We forget that wisdom has no gatekeepers.

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  4. I think I know why the blog world is dying, it's Capchas I have just failed to comment on another blog elsewhere and it ain't because I couldn't read the capcha either, it's the bloody system which is totally fubared.

    I don't know if my last comment got through here, but I think I shall be putting an end to my own blogging permanently in protest. It doesn't work any more, the system is broken.

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    1. I tried to turn-off as much verification as possible, but then I get hammered with spam. Even now, I delete dozens of fake comments a day to my blogs. The spam is destroying a good resource because the prevention is almost as bad as the problem.

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