In setting up this blog, one of the issues I have been grappling with is what I can comfortably talk about and what I can’t. For various reasons (some of them stemming from things I mentioned in the previous entry), I want to keep distance between this blog and my professional life. I want to be able to talk about issues here that I would have to navigate much more carefully in the real life.

This is not exactly a unique situation among academic bloggers – most of the blogs I read are pseudonymous, with the blogger using nicknames to identify colleagues, relatives, friends, institutions and locations. However, most of these blogs also tend to be American. Now my understanding of the United States is that it has an abundance of people and cities, and there are more than a few providers of higher education. In these circumstances, a blogger can indicate their geographical region, type of educational institution, discipline area, while remaining one of hundreds of people within all of those specific conditions.

On the other hand, my situation is a little different. Australia has around 40 universities. Given some basic information about the geographical and social conditions a person lives in, the set of universities they might work at could generally be reduced to no more than five. For instance, there are only a few cities with more than a million people (Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide), each with a different physical climate and each with only a few universities. The smaller cities with universities (Canberra, Newcastle, Hobart, etc.) are spread around the country, each with their own unique geographical circumstances. Then there are the regional universities, of which there tend to be only a few in each state, and which are again likely to differ in terms of geography and climate.

So, the minute I provide information about the type of university I work at, my specialisation, talk about the weather a few times, and mention any trips I take and give details of how (and how long) I had to travel to get there, I’ll be fairly easily identifiable to anyone who happens to care. Now I could rely on the possible that few people will, but I’d prefer to feel comfortable that I can speak freely here without risk of it coming back to bite me. So, I plan to take some precautions regarding who I am and where I come from:

  • I don’t intend to indicate my area of specialisation and will (hopefully) not directly reveal my discipline of origin. I certainly will not be talking about topics in my area of research and professional interest on this blog.
  • I will give a general indication of my geographical location, but in a way that shouldn’t be sufficient to identify the specific institution I work for.
  • Pseudonyms will abound.

I’ll start giving some autobiographical details in entries to come.

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