Kimberly De Vries on Thu, 23 Aug 2007 02:26:36 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: <nettime> personal life, impersonal writing

On 8/22/07, Benjamin Geer <> wrote:

> I have a suggestion:
> The legal concept of conflict of interest sometimes leads people to
> disclose their personal connections with the subject matter that
> they're writing about, e.g. when they write about their current or
> former employers.
> I'd like to suggest extending this practice to include emotional
> connections to the subject matter.

I agree with this idea, but I think including emotional connections is
important for other reasons as well--maybe more important--and putting
it just in terms of potential conflicts of interest seems to reinforce
the idea that emotional response clouds our thinking. I don't think
that's always true. Sometimes a positive response really enhances our
thinking, as in learning a language because of a romantic interest.
The more we care, the better we remember and the harder we work, in
most cases, I think.

But maybe I misunderstood your intent?


When I read something like this, I mentally thank the writer: now I know how
> to read his
> book.  Not only do I know which bias to look out for, I also have an
> idea of the extent to which I need to make allowances for that bias.
> (For example, I know I'm not dealing with a work of propaganda
> disguised as scholarship.)  In other words, this kind of personal
> disclosure helps me decide to what extent I'm willing to trust the
> writer.
> When a writer doesn't disclose his personal feelings about the subject
> matter, I find myself constantly reading between the lines in an
> effort to identify those feelings.  This can seem like a game of
> hide-and-seek.  Why not just come right out and tell readers what they
> want to know?

I agree this would be useful, and it's already fairly common in both
gender studies and in composition theory--not everyone does it, but
auto-ethnography is a recognized genre.

In fact I write this kind narrative into my work when I have the
chance, but those chances don't come as often as I think we both (and
others here) believe they should. So is there anything we might do in
addition to leading by example?

Would it help to raise this at relevant conferences, or publish
explicitly about it?

--a random idea that gets back to the original blogging topic; perhaps
so many people write and want to read personal things in blogs because
it has been so firmly excluded from some other spheres?



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