This post is the fourth part in a series and continues from here.
A favorite pastime of both friends and family is career counseling with oso. It always starts with a emptyish complement: “you have such a natural talent for …” and then gets right to the point, “don’t you think it’s time for you to start doing something like …”
Recently, the top two suggestions have been journalism and academia. This, to me, seems pretty obvious. It’s clear that I enjoy researching topics and sharing my discoveries. It’s what I do on here, on Global Voices, San Diego Blog, MTYBlogs, and in conversation with my friends pretty regularly. The advantage of journalism over Academia is that you’re able to research more topics, travel more freely, and freelance. Academia’s pros include job security, a wealth of resources, expertise in a narrow field (also a con), and interaction with (young, female, just kidding, sorta) students.
But one must look beyond just the pros, cons, and job descriptions of journalists and professors. Journalists work for publications. What is the objective of a publication? To keep society informed? (If you said yes, you’re reading something much better than what I read). The objective is to make money. These are businesses. Look for a job at your local paper … sales and advertising gigs are all you’re gonna find. What about universities? They’re objective is to arm the future generations of our world with the critical reasoning that has brought about all the “amazing advancements” of modernity right? To gain insight through research and spread it through teaching right? Not even close. A university markets a product (knowledge) and goes to great measures to keep it exclusive from all except those willing to pay outrageous tuition fees. They do this not only by safeguarding their digital libraries (most universities in Mexico won’t even let you on their campuses), but also by inventing a complex language to describe what are otherwise simple concepts which requires an ivory tower initiation that takes two or three very expensive years.
Which is why universities don’t want their faculty giving away their product for free on the internet. Just look at what this Humanities professor has to say when advising job-seeking academics:
The pertinent question for bloggers is simply, Why? What is the purpose of broadcasting one’s unfiltered thoughts to the whole wired world? It’s not hard to imagine legitimate, constructive applications for such a forum. But it’s also not hard to find examples of the worst kinds of uses.
Worst of all, for professional academics, it’s a publishing medium with no vetting process, no review board, and no editor. The author is the sole judge of what constitutes publishable material, and the medium allows for instantaneous distribution. After wrapping up a juicy rant at 3 a.m., it only takes a few clicks to put it into global circulation.
The content of the blog may be less worrisome than the fact of the blog itself. Several committee members expressed concern that a blogger who joined our staff might air departmental dirty laundry (real or imagined) on the cyber clothesline for the world to see. Past good behavior is no guarantee against future lapses of professional decorum.
What he’s talking about is the fear of turning professors into people. The acceptance that professors get things wrong too, that they’re not infallible, and that (obviously), like all people, they have their character flaws. Now, I’m all for a “vetting process, review board, and editor”: it’s called the comments section. I learn more from the comments on this blog than I ever learned in my 5 (wait, was it 6?) years of college.
A commenter on this post picks out the real inspiration of the article:
I wonder if the problem lies in the title for this piece. It’s called, “Bloggers Need Not Apply,” but as you rightly hint, it’s really intellectual freedom (with the should-be-old-by-now notion that the personal is political), rather than blogging, which is at issue, here.
I must admit, I do often wonder why Xolo never writes what could be called a “position” on anything academic on his blog. Research overload seems likely, but fear of unvettered publication could also be at hand.
By the way, I am happy to report that Thivai – an academic blogger who does very much make his positions known (though psuedonomously) – was given a tenured position.
Recently, I wrote to Mark Dery, a cultural theorist at NYU, observing that between he, Clay Shirky, and Jay Rosen, NYU has quite the monopoly on internet research. Dery replied that the three really don’t have much in common at all (Dery: culture, Shirky: social systems, Rosen: journalism), which I countered was exactly why they have such a monopoly – they’ve got all aspects of today’s internet covered except for business. I added that I consider each of them my own professors by reading their blogs and without paying NYU’s skyscraping tuition. His reply? “Smart man.”
I can’t help but wonder if there would be any advantage at all in actually taking classes from the professors at the university. Sure, personal interaction is a plus, but Rosen I’ve already talked with over beers and I’m sure Dery and Shirky are just as approachable … paying $30,000 a year or not.
It is, however, worth pointing out that Dery, Shirky, and Rosen have their [blogging] reputation, in part, because of their academic position. In fact, most “A-list” bloggers have impressive Curriculum Vitaes which are read from conference after conference. As an author on Global Voices I was asked to write a short biography about who I am and what I’ve done. Compared to my colleagues – former CNN correspondent, Non-profit program director, CEO, , IT company founder, and a handful of (mostly Harvard) law students – I obviously didn’t have much in comparison. But what I did write wasn’t included. Instead they came up with this. Though I haven’t asked, I assume it’s because my professional resume isn’t exactly impressive. Even in the blogosphere, image over content remains.
My Dream Job
The irony of being constantly grilled on what I’d like to do with my life is that I’m doing exactly that right now. Though making fun of blogging never seems to get old for people who obviously spend most of their day surfing for porn and watching cartoons, I happen to believe that what we’re doing at Global Voices right now is extremely important. Or to use that favorite bloggers’ cliche: revolutionary. Which is probably why it’s getting some much deserved attention in the mainstream media, including this recent article in Wired. It talks about how blogging is taking off in Cambodia and how one guy is literally going around the country and showing people how to blog as well as developing a Khmer language blogging tool. Whoopdy doo you say, which is fine, but for someone who is sincerely interested in bridging the communication gaps between people on this world of ours, it really is revolutionary for me to be able to read the thoughts
of some geeky kid in Cambodia.
There are so many unheard voices out there that deserve attention. Global Voices is helping get them out there, but the real challenge is making people care. We’ve got links to way more news stories than any typical news consumer could ever manage. Content is no longer the problem. But how do you make someone care about what is going on in other parts of the world. That is the real challenge and it’s really what I’d like to pursue for the rest of my freckled days until they do.
What’s in it For You?
Such a great song by the Walkmen. And also a very fair question. When people come up with answers like, “I just want to make the world a better place,” I die laughing. It’s such bullshit. People don’t want to make the world a ‘better place,’ they want to make it their type of place. (don’t get too philosophical here Abo) Which is why both HP and I spend time trying to convince our readers that we are right. So what do I get out of writing on a this half-ass weblog and working various temporary jobs while skipping around the world instead of working for a well-established publication or well-regarded university (“which both pay!” scream my relatives)? Well, part of it is my personality. If I were to write a story (or apply for a research grant) on a subject which was obviously very important, but not “sexy” enough, I’d gladly shove five fingers up their anus (the physical gesture is necessary here) and walk out. (which is exactly what Rebecca MacKinnon did … well, I’m not sure about the five fingers)
Recognition is also part of it. Like apophenia says, a blogger makes a brand of him/herself. As I type, I continue branding.
Unlimited freedom to write about whatever might happen to inspire me rather than whatever might happen to sell copies is also huge. Plus, I’m such a disaster in bureaucracies. I become a completely facetious fatalist that cares about nothing. Which is fun for a while – Moreno continues to be my hero – but, long term, it’s not good for my freckles.
Cuba’s next. Really.
Fabulous post! You’re doing great work and we LOVE it.
(I don’t know what the deal was with your bio… if some stuff got left out it must have been one of the many casualties of our redesign changeover. Feel free to go in and edit it to say whatever you want.)
Definitely don’t bother with journalism school. I never did, nor did most of the journalists I most respect. You’re learning much more by doing.
It’s funny, but as we forge on with the Global Voices project, I’m seeing the emergence of an international blogger a-list made up largely of people in their early 20’s – people who feel comfortable with the technology and understand how to conduct meaningful conversations about events – in ways that most of the “senior” and “more experienced” professionals will never get. You guys are the future of media. Most of the “experienced professionals” of MSM are threatened and running scared, terrified of losing their jobs. Most journalism professors are even more terrified. For good reason.
Anyway, keep up the good work!!!!!
While I have written a little about my research and teaching on my blog, it is a space away from my academic/research life – a life that at times can seem a little too consuming. It is nice to have a place to escape to – a place where I can indulge in the mundane, so to speak.
It is also a place where I can write without pondering or second-guessing my text, where I am free of referencing ideas or facts, and where I can go from serious to silly and back in the blink of an eye. So indulge in my blog. If there is interest, I might “take a position” as you so put it, but it is not why I go there and I believe that my audience is not that interested.
But when I really want food for thought, when I really want to ponder the finer points of life, I come here. There is always an abundance of intellectual and spiritual stimulation.
The obviously adult thing for me to have done woulda been ask instead of whine, but in all honesty, I like what whoever-it-was came up with much more than what I wrote. Brevity, I have always struggled with.
I definitely agree with you about the international blogger “a-list” (though I hate the term). I see it in Latin America … and I certainly hope it doesn’t turn “elitist” (another term I dislike).
I figured that was it, but I always have wondered. You certainly do make your opinions known in comments on others’ posts. And actually, I have to say, your blog is always one of the first I check precisely because it’s so readable and personal. Kinda like coming home to a lighted fire, whatever that may mean.
Oh, and I forgot to mention: my homie Sparsh and I are going to become gazillionaires after we open an affordable Indian food restaurant/shack (like the one in Venice beach) in downtown San Diego.
In other unrelated news, I just got stung my a jellyfish and my forearm really stings. Supposedly I’m supposed to pee on it, but I think I’m going to pass.
5 months ago, I woulda just said stupid. (JK) You’ve obviously got a big heart. And that was probably one of the most meaningful comments (to me, anyway) that I’ve seen around here in a long, long time.
When I become a bearded communist dicatator, I’ll make sure you’re not sent to the Gulags. And if Cindylu gives you any heat about grammatical mistakes in that comment, tell her to deal with me. 😉
HP, I will have to politely disagree with you. i think you’re generalizing about the whole ghetto mexican thing. Yo soy ghetto mexican and graduating from high school and going to college paid off–everyone nodded with approval. Even the job with benefits i got after college was a result of doing the ‘right’ thing. my parents were so happy that i started off with vacation time they had to work twenty years to earn. the part they didn’t understand was quitting my job suddenly. and that’s where i can relate to oso a bit, my parents believe that i’ve got all this potential and i’m just not doing much with it.
anyway, oso keep doing what you’re doing–i think its pretty cool.
If you wanna date the young female students, be careful! I told you about that one professor/director of counseling center that got a student pregnant. It’s way too much drama to deal with.
I can’t say that I want to be in academe because there are a lot of good looking young guys here. I do agree with some of what you wrote about the purpose of higher education as it has shifted from the old school learning for the sake of learning (the education was hardly utilitarian when American universities first sprang up) to now being about big business. You’re near a big university, I bet if you wanted, you could stroll up and sit in a large lecture hall and pretend like you were in the class. No one would ever notice that you weren’t a current student.
Oh yeah, and the only heat I’ll be giving to HP about that comment is related to the strippers (well, a little about Chicana/o Studies too).
I was looking really hard for some grammatical errors, but it looks like if you actually proofread what you wrote. I don’t think taking time to major in something that is ‘”non-marketable” is a waste of time. I have plenty of friends who have been very successful in their post-undergrad experiences. They will not be working at a low-wage, low-skill job because of their experiences.
Oh yeah, I really doubt your dad will let you go the way of not marrying and having kids…
I definitely dig what is going on over at Global Voices Online. I feel honored to have my blog and its content to be covered and included in the Blog Roundup. Thanks for the coverage, let me know how I can help.
You know, I find this blog to be enlightening. Hell, just look at the diverse group of regulars that you have stop by. Can you actually imagine us all in the same room at the same time?? What a get together that would be! Hey .. just do what you do. There’s no reason that you have to do any particular thing in life by any particular time. If you do become a bearded communist dictator, I’d like to be the head of your secret police. After all, the all black wear of the force would be perfect .. very chique.
HP .. A conservative smoking weed???? Do tell! Can I borrow a toke?
I meant every word of it.
I didn’t mean to imply that if one takes a non-marketable major, that that necessarily means they won’t be successful. My only point there was that Mexicans in general, and especially ghetto Mexicans (Mexicans that live and grew up in the ghetto) tend to have lower educational expectations from their children than whites, and especially chinos do. I’m not saying that this is all Mexican families, only that Mexican families on average expect less/demand less (as far as college accomplishment goes) from their children than chino or white families (which is why we have a lot less Mexicans in college and more dropping out of HS than chinos or white people). I’m not saying this is a good thing (because it is not, it is a bad thing), only that it seems to be the case.
Cindy, you’re right about my father, as of late, he seems to be getting more pushy with the whole marriage and children thing. I shall resist though….
We already talked about this. I’m sure you can believe that Mexican parents on average will have lower educational expectations of their children than Asian or White parents of the same class. However, I still don’t because both of our observations and anecdotal evidence contradict each other and we don’t really know what the middle ground consists of.
I talked it over with another friend. We still believe that if I was doing something like Oso was doing (minus the being guardian for his teenage sister), my parents and family would be pestering me like they pester him about finding a “real” job or finding his true calling, but in a professional/steady career. Irasali made this point clearly. My parents grew up in the barrios of East LA and so did their siblings. So, they are “ghetto” in some way as you mention. They had some experience with community college (my dad earned an AA), but they never went to a four-year university. For our community, higher education still represents a way to move up, get a good job, and good means steady, not hard labor, and well-paying.
I’m going to look up the main reasons Chicanas/os go to college in our databases at work. From what I’ve seen, those in the sciences really want a high paying job and that’s why they’ve chosen to pursue and career in scientific research. Maybe the humanities and social sciences differ.
Aside from the fact that my mom is in education and I grew up in the suburbs, why do you think I’ve made it to be such an exception. What part of my culture helped me? What part hindered me? You know me well enough to answer this question, and it doesn’t have to be in the comments.
I still get the feeling you’re really intent on giving our people less credit than we deserve.
I may know you, but I don’t know your family, aside from what you’ve told me about them. Even if I did, I wouldn’t know them long enough to see how they raised you. So I am in no position to say what made you how you are.
I still get the feeling you’re really intent on giving our people less credit than we deserve.
That may be so, and I am willing to change my mind if I am shown to the contrary. However, based on my experience (which btw, is very typical of Mexicans in the United States), the data I’ve seen, and the alternative explanations, I think I have a strong basis for holding the hypothesis that I hold.
However, if you think you have a better explanation for the facts above, I am all ears? Spell it out? What do you think is the primary reason almost 50% of us don’t even get a High School diploma? What do you think is the primary reason latino Children place education much lower on the priority list than whites and asians? What do you think is the primary reason why latino and black children consider doing good in school, acting white, an act that makes you less popular? What are your reasons Cindy? The white man?
I no longer pay rent.
And I’m pretty sure you’re only calling UCSD prestigious ’cause you’re going there. (Don’t they have gramar classes?) JK mayne.
Anyway, you sound pretty passionate about how minorities do in school and why. Have you ever thought about somehow becoming more involved?
In all honesty, I probably agree with more points you made above than cindy did (although, she didn’t write 50 paragraphs), but regardless, she’s the one doing something about what she believes.
Can you mind your own business? Why you gotta jump into the cheese when you don’t belong. JK
Nah, but seriously, I hate the victimology line, I am conservative remember? So it drives me nuts when someone automatically points outward instead of first looking inward, and so I try to be consistent with it, even when it works against me, or my people. It reminds me of some students here at UCSD, or at my undergrad school, they would occasionally skip class, party during the week, and overall have a lack of studying all throughout the quarter, but when they get a bad grade at the end, they start complaining about ‘how its the teachers fault for not connecting with the student’, ‘how the class is too fast paced’, how ‘this’, how ‘that’, always pointing to outer things but themselves. I was always the person who blurted out, ‘or maybe it was cuz you never came to class’, ‘maybe it’s cuz you didn’t study until the night before’. Instead of pointing to external issues, first examine oneself.
So I do believe that the large majority of reasons why minorities are underrepresented in colleges is because of inner issues. When I say culture, I don’t just mean the ‘Mexican culture’ or ‘black culture’, but the whole culture that permeates ghettos. Where your valued more on being tough, not on going to school. In addition, I don’t think anybody does this intentionally. In other words, I don’t think parents intentionally give education less of a priority, many of them don’t know they are doing it. To put education as a priority in a childs life is much more than just telling the kid to try hard and study hard.
And lastly, I would also classify broken homes and family issues outside of the parents and childrens control as ‘cultural issues’. So when you have a parent who is a prostitute, or an ex-con, or a drug addict, or other family members who are, as is very common in the ghettos, it’s kinda hard to study even if you had the ganas in you already.
As far as me doing something. Well, I’ve been trying. At the end of last year, I was going to have my cousin come stay with me so I can support him while he goes to school, but he got a raise and doesn’t want to quit his job anymore. Than I was going to have my boy from Texas come stay with me for the same reason, but when I went up to Monterrey recently, I found out he got some girl pregnant, and now can’t leave because he has to be a father. But currently, I am going through some talks with family and they are trying to convince me to become the guardian of my nephew, my God son, so I don’t know how that is going to pan out, but I may be supporting a little three year old in a few months. I don’t know how I would do that while working full time, taking classes at UCSD, and trying to enter into an Engineering graduate program. So basically, my family is asking me to give up on grad school for this. We’ll see in the next few months how this will play out…
I believe in the conservative way of solving poverty and minority problems, first do what you can in your own family, than move outward from there. And I definitely have a lot more to go in my own family, before I start doing stuff outside.
And in case I wasn’t clear above, I completely respect and value Cindylu’s efforts for doing something for us, it certainly is, without a doubt, much more than I am doing. I still respect her and highly value what she is doing, whether we agree on issues like this or not. So that was never in question, or in doubt, throughout this whole discussion.
Your dad is a very smart man. You should listen to him 😀
I cannot really understand why, based upon the traveling you are doing, the stories you tell and the friends we hear from… that anyone, even money-conscious souls, would think that you are wasting your life. You seem to be “living” very well to me.
Program on the emergence of civilization.
“14 species of large animals capable of domesitcation in the history of mankind.
None from the sub-Saharan African continent.
13 from Europe, Asia and northern Africa.”
They point out Africans’ attempts to domesticate the elephant and zebra, the latter being an animal they illustrate that had utmost importance for it’s applicability in transformation from a hunting/gathering to agrarian-based civilization.
The roots of racism are not of this earth.
Austrailia, aboriginals:::No domesticable animals.
The North American continent had none. Now 99% of that population is gone.
Heirarchical order, from top to bottom:
1. MUCK – perhaps have experienced multiple universal contractions (have seen multiple big bangs), creator of the artificial intelligence humans ignorantly refer to as “god”
2. Perhaps some mid-level alien management –
3. Mafia (evil) aliens – runs day-to-day operations here and perhaps elsewhere (“On planets where they approved evil.”)
Then we come to terrestrial management:
4. Chinese/egyptians – this may be separated into the eastern and western worlds
5. Romans – they answer to the egyptians
6. Mafia – the real-world interface that constantly turns over generationally so as to reinforce the widely-held notion of mortality
7. Jews, corporation, women, politician – Evidence exisits to suggest mafia management over all these groups.
Survival of the favored.
Movies foreshadowing catastrophy
1986 James Bond View to a Kill – 1989 San Fransisco Loma Prieta earthquake.
Journal: 10 composition books + 39 megs of text files
This is my favorite:
Really? Mine was by far: