The lives of graduate students are filled with seminar papers, reading responses, and tech projects due in various classes, not to mention preparing for dissertation work, conference presentations, committee work, and teaching our own classes. In this madness it is easy to leave a trail of documents scattered on any number of office, home, grad lab computers, storage devices, and ZIP drives. Blogs are an easy fix to the organizational problems that plague so many students and offer an added bonus of organizing previous work in ways that may stimulate future study. Blogs' ability to keep knowledge gained during coursework current and accessible will serve grad students and beginning instructors well into their careers.
•Get access anywhere. With school holidays, conference obligations, and job searches, it is hard to predict where any grad student or instructor might end up on any given day. When using a blog as storehouse you are assured access wherever you can pick up an Internet connection rather than being tied to your laptop or always-missing storage devices.
•Find order in the chaos. The "Archives" function on blogs allow scholars to easily organize previous papers, presentations, and other ideas for later retrieval. Archives order papers chronologically from most current projects to earlier ones offering scholars a chance to consider the direction their overall body of work is taking. Additionally, bloggers may categorize blog entries by subject type. At right is a screenshot of the "Archives by Category" menu seen on the CultureCat blog by Clancy Ratliff, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Minnesota in the Department of Rhetoric. CultureCat was recently named the winner of the John Lovas Memorial Academic Weblog Award for 2005-2006 by Kairosnews.
•Build on the past. Previous work is perhaps most useful to scholars as it impacts future projects. Most careers eventually evolve into a specific interest area and by collecting past works in one spot, scholars can identify gaps in their own work and may begin to plan for new projects.
•Protect your work online. The idea of posting work on the Web may seem scary in this age of full access, but some simple safeguards make blog posting relatively safe. Choose a blog server that will restrict public listing of your site and treat this blog like any other you might use. Refrain from listing full names and school affiliations to protect your anonymity. Blogger, for example, offers rigorous security settings designed to give access only to those you invite to your blog. In the question below, bloggers can choose to have their blogs unlisted, like phone numbers.