The last couple of years have seen the growth of a remarkable new internet phenomenon: the blog. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, a “blog,” which is short for “weblog” is a type of online journal that can be used to disseminate your thoughts to the world at large via the internet. Bloggers (as the name suggests, a blogger is the writer/owner of a blog) may write on any and all subjects. Some blogs are on specific topics such as hobbies or current events, while other blogs are more free form and are similar to an online journal or diary that can be used to record your thoughts both for yourself and to share with others.
While new communications technologies have always revolutionized how we as people communicate with each other, the blog is perhaps the most democratic of any modern communication format. Anyone with internet access (practically everyone nowadays) has the ability to start a free blog through Blogger.com or through WordPress.org, and anyone who fancies himself or herself to bea writer at heart is now able to pursue that passion and become the object of that self-image. Another essential feature of the modern blog is the ability for your blog readers to comment and provide feedback on the content of your blog. This creates an interactiveness that traditional publishing formats such as print media and even online journals do not possess.
In this article I would like to suggest a new use for the blog than has previously been discussed or exploited. The similarity of blogging to journaling creates a format of writing that encourages the regular writing and posting of new content. As a graduate student working on a Ph.D. in philosophy, I have constantly struggled to maintain regularity and consistency in my writing, trying to write a little piece of my dissertation everyday. It occurred to me that the blog format might be useful in helping graduate students, who have lengthy theses or dissertations to write, in keeping up with their work. A graduate student such as myself could write a small piece of the dissertation, post it on his/her blog, get feedback from other graduate students or professors, and do so on a daily or bi-daily basis. The would serve two purposes: it would maintain a complete record of the work involved in producing one’s thesis, so that one can track the development of his/her progress. Plus it would be sufficiently different from standard forms of academic writing that the vast amount of work involved in producing a thesis would psychologically be easier to deal with and seem less like actual work and more like writing for the fun of it. It is vitally improtant for graduate students to find a way to maintain enjoyment in their research, lest the project start to seem overwhelming and tedious rather than something that originally fascinated them enough to pursue an entire graduate degree for. My hunch is that the blog may be a perfect solution to this problem than many a graduate student, including myself, has faced.