For years, everyday I have sat down and hammered out a few words. Sometimes those words are purely for myself and other times they are posted online. Honestly, most of my online writing is for myself. Really only my efforts to publish academic papers should be considered truly public facing words. Contributions to the broader academy that comprises the written tradition of academic thought are about giving back to that tradition. They are about making a contribution that moves things forward. Maybe recently the mass proliferation of academic publications has made it harder and harder for those contributions to be heard and shared. Perhaps the echo of academic thought has grown smaller in recent years. More and more it is the echo of popular culture on social media that effectively brings people together at scale. Even historically most academic publications had a small, but highly dedicated following of intellectuals that were interested in having and keeping a shared understanding of the world around them based on keeping tabs on the rich tradition of what was published within the academy.
Right now sitting next to me on my desk a copy of the Public Administration Review (PAR) needs to be read from cover to cover. For better or sometimes for the worse, the one academic journal that I have consistently read over the last 20 years is PAR. Sitting right on top of that journal are copies of Wired magazine and Data Science From Scratch by Grus. Those three publications probably reasonably encapsulate my current academic trajectory. Maybe that can help inform my daily writing cadence going forward. More likely than not, I will continue to generate highly functional journal entries and occasionally sit down to write long form articles. During the moments where being reasonable seems easy I might acknowledge that more of my time needs to be spent writing academic articles, but that is always easier to dream about than to actually muddle through. Hammering the keyboard to produce some prose is almost always going to be about either what has my attention at the moment or what I’m passionate about. It is a rare confluence of events where stream of consciousness writing ends up being academically publishable.