I really liked the recent description of academic blogging as the creation of a “global Common Room”. Maybe it’s the memory of my two sabbatical terms spent in England, where the Common Room tradition was still alive and well…for our “elevenses”, Mrs. Cambridge came in each day to make the tea. (Does that still happen, I wonder?)

I thought of this when I read the first blog entries by Lynda Robinson, Micki McCartney and others who have joined our CIEL academic blogging family.  Here is the Global Common Room description, excerpted from the Higher Education Network of the Guardian Online.

“…many bloggers are talking together in a kind of giant, global virtual common room. Over at one table there is a lively, even angry, conversation about working conditions in academia in different parts of the world. In a different corner another group are discussing their latest research projects and finding common themes.

Another table houses a group of senior and early career academics discussing how to land a book contract and write a good CV. There is also a meeting going on about public policy, and this involves a number of public and third sector people, as well as academics, who work in the area.

In our sample of blogs, this common room was, by and large, a friendly and safe space. There was a generosity of spirit that marked many of the blogs we read: information and assistance were freely provided and the usual barriers of disciplines, seniority and higher education ranking effects did not seem to apply, at least in obvious ways.

Secondly, we have come to see blogging as a variation of open access publishing. Academics can get to print early, share ideas which are still being cooked and stake a claim in part of a conversation without waiting to appear in print. On blogs we can offer commentary on the work of others in a more relaxed – or opinionated – way than we might do in conventional journals, where we will be subjected to the normalising gaze of peer reviewers.

More importantly perhaps, thanks to Google and other search engines, other people can find us and connect more easily. Our opinions are out there to be critiqued by our audience – if we let them. In this our ideas can be challenged, extended or affirmed – in almost real time.”