Live-blogging: Mark Carrigan and Academic blogging and social media

Mark Carrigan blog

Today I’ll be doing some live-blogging with The Sociological Review for a great workshop at the University of Nottingham: “Social Media and Doing a PhD, What Do You Need to Know – A Postgraduate Workshop”. 

For #academictwitter followers, the lineup is quite the who’s-who of academic social media experts: Mark Carrigan, Inger Mewburn (Thesis Whisperer) and Pat Thomson (patter).

Starting off the events is  Mark Carrigan, digital sociologist at Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge and The Sociological Review Foundation.

Mark discussed some of the history leading up to his own, very successful, blog. Sometimes personal blogs can take a few iterations before we’re able to settle upon one that clicks (and gets clicks). For Mark, his current WordPress-powered blog began as an online receptacle for his thoughts, which slowly transitioned into a place to share thoughts on his PhD experience, and eventually becoming a research blog.

What is a research blog? For Mark, the blog became a tool for the thinking process. The blog in this way functions as a sort of publicly visible playground of the mind — where ideas are played with, explored, and even tested as prospective projects. During the process of sharing, linking, researching through his blog, Mark often found that disparate ideas became larger, connected ideas or incorporated into larger bodies of work.

A blog in this way functions along the same lines as a digital commonplace, a form of digital marginalia that you use a way to think while working, reading, and researching. A blog can also potentially represent a measure of accountability — any ideas-in-progress are out there, and can attract feedback that can potentially be worked with later.

mark carrigan socia media archives

Another platform option for academic blogging, either alongside or as an alternative to WordPress, is How might your audiences vary from WordPress or It depends. Having a clear idea about who your intended audience is (or who you hope it might be) can help. Curating your content and topics via tags (see image on the right for Mark’s organization scheme) can influence the kinds of audiences you reach.

On the one hand, can potentially have a built-in audience for the topics that you write and think about, which can in turn lead to different traffic and different audiences than perhaps a WordPress blog, where audience growth can happen more slowly or more organically. Mark posits that perhaps might be more conducive for longer form pieces of writing (I’m inclined to agree), which might lead to longer, more sustained forms of audience engagement.

mark carrigan medium

What sorts of things have worked (or not worked) for you? Any questions for Mark on this topic? Feel free to get in touch right now!




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I run the ThinkLab at the University of Cambridge, and research digital habits, productivity, and wellbeing.

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