A commentary to a blog post in The Auricle, on academic blogging:
I find it a sad reflection on the state of tolerance and critical thinking in the universities, that one should assume that negative criticism of policies, etc., can be expected not to be tolerated—and to be censored straightaway. The University should provide a freer, more tolerant, more diverse environment. Maybe blogs will help to change that—but academics are incredibly shy about blogging, which doesn’t help either.
I got there via this interesting survey of British academic blogging in The Times Higher Education Supplement.
And, by the way, a thesis on social networking interaction by Danah Boyd: OUT OF CONTEXT (PDF). She's also got a blog, Apophenia—no less. And she studied at Brown University, too. Well, there's links in everything, especially on the Web. From the abstract of the thesis on social networks:
My analysis centers on how social network sites can be understood as networked publics which are simultaneously (1) the space constructed through networked technologies and (2) the imagined community that emerges as a result of the intersection of people, technology, and practice. Networked publics support many of the same practices as unmediated publics, but their structural differences often inflect practices in unique ways. Four properties - persistence, searchability, replicability, and scalability - and three dynamics - invisible audiences, collapsed contexts, and the blurring of public and private - are examined and woven throughout the discussion.
While teenagers primarily leverage social network sites to engage in common practices, the properties of these sites configured their practices and teens were forced to contend with the resultant dynamics. Often, in doing so, they reworked the technology for their purposes. As teenagers learned to navigate social network sites, they developed potent strategies for managing the complexities of and social awkwardness incurred by these sites. Their strategies reveal how new forms of social media are incorporated into everyday life, complicating some practices and reinforcing others. New technologies reshape public life, but teens' engagement also reconfigures the technology itself.
—same thing for academics? Probably, but the vitality there's much lower I guess.