Thursday, 3 June 2010

Making the beast dead

In what some have said is an “end of an era” and others have suggested is an event 4–6 years overdue, Signifying Nothing will be signing off—if not permanently, certainly for the foreseeable future—by the end of June. I still plan to contribute to Outside the Beltway (perhaps even on a more regular basis, given the discontinuation of this blog), and those who must hear my briefer thoughts on non-OTB-worthy matters may either follow me on Twitter, FriendFeed, or (if I know you, above an incredibly low threshold of “know”) Facebook.

There are a few reasons for the blog to come to an end. Probably foremost is that the world has moved on and others (with far bigger audiences) usually have something to say about a matter of interest before I find the time to comment on it in any detail. Twitter and my Google Reader shared items feed have essentially taken over any need for shorter, “go read this” posts, which leaves only sporadic content for a real blog.

The second reason, which I suppose matters more to me than to my readers, is that this blog really only worked when I was willing to discuss my thoughts in a much more unfiltered manner. Even though I’ve never used this forum in a way that might undermine collegiality, I have come to appreciate more that taken out of context—which much content on the Internet inevitably is, due to search engines—some of my more unguarded thoughts might be seen as representing more general attitudes that some might find as a convenient excuse to use to undermine future professional opportunities.

Being in a tenure-track position also, paradoxically, places me in the position for the first time of not being able to be quite as forthright about the serious issues that exist in academia generally and political science specifically. (I leave aside the paper trail of political views that would put me simultaneously outside the mainstream of academia and those of the American public at large yet somehow somewhere in between them, which certainly is a recipe for loathing from all sides.) I have no direct evidence that the blog has harmed my potential professional status to date, but frankly at this point in my career I feel the need to play it “safer” than I have in the past, and Signifying Nothing is an inevitable casualty of that decision.

Farewell; it’s been an interesting 7½ year trip.