T H E  D E T O U R  R O O M

The Detour Room is open. Please enjoy your stay.

'There are a number of reasons why blogs may not be considered suitable sources in academic publishing:

  • Blogs are typically not peer-reviewed.
  • It may not be possible to confidently establish the authorship of blogs or verify their content.
  • Blog text may not be fixed (i.e. the author may change the content of a particular blog page without warning).
  • Blogs may not be permanently accessible and could be removed.'

The University of Cambridge gives this guidance when it comes to citing blogs in academic research; whatever else the Detour Room may be, 'blog' is a reasonably accurate descriptor. I quote the above here because:

a) These are the limits of blogging. I am one person, writing on topics that interest me. My posts may be proof-read, but are not peer-reviewed. They are not subject to the same standards as traditional publishing.

b) This is the power of blogging. 'May not be possible.' 'May not be fixed.' Blogging is slippery - it's elusive. It has no fixed reference point, no project pipleine. Like other forms of independent scholarship, it exists in proximity to but outside of the academy.

Likewise: these texts exist here as long as I allow them to. I may change them. I may remove them. They are subject to my control.

This means, as demonstrated above, that academia is prone to viewing blogs with suspicion, even as it recognises that 'despite these issues, blogs offer a significant and readily available corpus of information, ideas and opinions that could be of value to academic research'. Note 'could be' - we're still hedging our bets here.

There has been a decent amount of research in anthopology and ethnography on the potential of blogging as research method in of itself. See, for instance, Max Schnepf writing for anthrobod:

'What happens to our methods if we take the claim seriously that not only the truth about the world multiplies but reality itself does so, too? [...] The solution to this "problem"? Once again, we have to find ways of how to do research and write texts that do justice to our even more slippery objects of study.'

Schnepf's argument is that his blogging and photography - as well as allowing him to better communicate his interests with his interlocutors - allow him to explore modes of writing that better incorporate multiplicity and uncertainty. Less generalised, more local. Less definitive, more ongoing. 'This does not mean that we all live in different fragmented worlds, but that objects enacted as multiple are partially connected. They are more than one, but less than many...'

I enjoy blogging, conceptually, in the same way I enjoy freewriting and idle notes and excited conversations with friends or peers. I like the polished eloquence of a good essay, sure, but these spaces are where the magic really happens. It's ideas in their natural habitat - darting across the room, leaping between us, taking us to places nobody expected to go. At uni, this was where most of my learning was done: in the space before the finished thought.

Here you can find informal, in-progress thought on a variety of subjects that interest me. Probably media of various kinds, but I'm not going to limit myself. What would be the point? Part of that magic I described is the ability to go off-track. Hence, the Detour Room.

I hope you enjoy your stay.

A decorative flourish from an old book.