What does informal academic discourse and information-sharing look like these days? As a design history researcher and educator, I am turning less frequently to standard social media platforms like Twitter and Instagram for academic chatter and information sharing. As Twitter morphs into something different that feels like a death march towards irrelevancy, I have drastically reduced the time I spend there. Instead, I am favouring the small + nice environment of Mastodon. Similarly, as Instagram becomes flooded with suggested posts driven by algorithms, it is losing its value for me as a microblogging site. I still do find wonderful content on selected accounts – such as the always-stellar alice.rawsthorn and the new-to-me Virginia_Wright_History – but it takes some scrolling work. As a result, I have lost contact with my carefully sorted academic community. I miss learning about new books, exhibitions, and conferences from design history colleagues near and far. It just isn’t the same.
So, I have dusted off my RSS reader app and I am returning to reading Blogs! RSS stands for ‘Real Simple Syndication.’ It is a way for websites to announce new publications – either a blog post or a podcast – directly to its audience and most websites (including Substack sites and newsletters) have an RSS feed already built in. “Reeder 5” is proving to be quite usable for me in this (re)turn, but there are lots of others. New posts from websites and academic Blogs that I follow are collected for me in one place at the click of a button and I can sync the RSS feed alerts across my portable devices.
I enjoy the personal blogs of Mark Carrigan and John Hill and group blogs such as Platformspace.net and Placesjournal.org. In the academic organizations to which I belong, I find myself advocating for more effort to be made to share ideas and announcements in Blog posts. And I am wondering if there are other websites and Blogs that I should be reading.
Are you returning to Academic Blogs? Which Blogs are you reading?