I’m sitting on some excellent news, professionally speaking, which becomes interesting when you have recently started a blog devoted (at least in part) to talking about matters related to professional academia. If part of your public persona is suddenly invested in a space of public intimacy, to use Maria Bakardjieva’s terminology, where is the line between talking about important and topical personal career developments and using that space to talk one’s self up?
I’ve told a few colleagues, on an individual basis, but there is something more concrete, performative and risk-inducing about the public mediated announcement. One factor, of course, is that when something is not completely hammered out you want to keep it to yourself until the details are sorted, as to not put something out there that might be false, or even upset what may only be tentative arrangements.
I have noticed this last happening occasionally with respect to the new phenomenon of what might be called direct fandom, with actors who have followings on twitter upsetting the apple cart on new gigs that they are too excited to keep mum about. Recently Robert Llewellyn, of Red Dwarf fame, sent out a blanket apology for tweeting about a potential new series of that sci-fi cult favorite before a deal was in the bag, and in ways that might have negatively affected delicate negotiations. I have also heard tell of an actor who was so excited about a pivotal role in a popular TV drama that he told his fans all about it, including a key plot twist involving his character. As a result, the writers changed direction and he didn’t end up with the part after all. While academia isn’t as glamorous as the entertainment industry, it is often just as industrial—especially recently. And personal mediations of professional identity in the public sphere sometimes need to be tempered by professional mediation of the personal information you are putting out there.
But I digress. Let’s just say that I am very excited about this new development. Hopefully when things are a little more concrete I will be about to talk about it more, here.