I’m grateful to Inside Higher Ed for publishing my latest essay, on academic avatars. It’s nice to write something relatively quickly and have it read quickly and responded to so quickly. It’s not like writing articles for peer reviewed journals, which sometimes languish for years before seeing print, or even worse, trying to publish a book with an academic press, which can also take years (and that’s if you’re lucky enough to get a contract.) It’s interesting to see the blog stats spike on this page thanks to Inside Higher Ed. I’ve had more hits in the last two days than I’ve had in seven months. And the only reason I had alot of hits seven months ago was because I published two photographs of what looked like UFOs over Trafalgar Square in London and that made the UFO avatars flip out and link to me like crazy. At one point I couldn’t even see my page it was getting so many hits. At any rate, I feel pretty lucky to have the chance to write for Inside Higher Ed and hopefully the piece will be well received. I was pretty even handed in judging academic avatars– I got my digs in but ended up affirming the importance of faculty having avatars. I wish I could have named and linked the outrageous faculty avatars I studied before writing the piece. The guy I mention at the end of the article is not made up, and he had, and may still have, an avatar that shows him holding a martini and looking at the camera creepishly. This on his faculty homepage.
There was one more thing I wanted to say but which I did not say– how some faculty avatars seek to be totalizing centers for guiding students on all aspects of academic life. Perhaps we may call it a mentoring avatar? Seek and ye shall find such avatars.
Anyway, it will be interesting to see if this piece sparks any discussion. The avatar topic may be played out. But who knows. I did not expect my youtube piece to go as viral as it did. I’m glad to have had my say and now I will go away for a few months. Maybe I will pop up again in Inside Higher Ed in 2008. There are a few ideas kicking around in my head for other pieces.