May 13, 2005

Fear of bloggers.

Making the rounds today is the story of an adjunct professor at SMU, who was not renewed, perhaps because of her blog, which included sharp observations about professors and students. Not surprisingly, she's writing a book. And she should: the writing's really good. Let's hope that, freed from her job, she'll write more and better stories about campus life.

The blog is The Phantom Professor. I'm putting her on the blogroll.

Did the school do anything wrong if it cut her because her stories disturbed faculty and students and their parents? It would be at least foolish, because there will always be another blogger to write about the school, and now those bloggers will be reacting to anti-bloggism. And since The Phantom Professor observed the basic decencies of changing names and identifying details, her telling descriptions and insights did no serious harm. And it's usually better to appreciate satire and laugh at yourself.

For example, I'm still laughing at this -- scroll down and keep scrolling, all the way down -- even though it makes me a little nervous sometimes.

UPDATE: Judging from the comments on this post, people think that last link actually takes them to The Huffington Post. It doesn't! And, really, look for my name, which appears about 20 times.

ANOTHER UPDATE: That is, about 40 times. (And, no, I'm not a secret co-author of that blog.)


MD said...

The Phantom professor is a good writer.

And the Huffington link is very, very funny. I dunno, I kinda like the Huffington experience. It sends up the blog biggies, which is almost 'guerilla' and very blog like, if you think about it.

I like all the webby interconnectedness. Look, I'm watching Sanford and Son! and look! Norman Lear is posting on the Huffington blogorama! and maybe he'll read my comment, and my oh my it's a brave new world!

Or not.

Anyway, it's fun.

MD said...

Uh, I totally didn't get that that was a send up. I didn't read the header.....I thought it was some funny 'back blog' related to the big H-B, and making fun of itself. Yes. I. Am. An Idiot. Who needs coffee...

So now I go back to my original feelings about the Huffingtonian. I guess I'll read the posts by John Cusack.

leeontheroad said...

I think it would be easier for folks to post directly about campus life, if they had tenure, or could be sure the adminsitration had a sense of humor. I beleive few adminsitrations do.

Having said that, I think it's ethically questionable to post publicly about students, that is, to post with identifying details. Changing names does not guarantee anonymity.

I frequently discuss-- even sometimes satirize-- students, as part of "shoptalk." I don't use their names, as a matter of course, but, too, "shoptalk" or a good story over dinner does not a public record make.

Still, I suspect the matter of the unrenewed contract wasn't to protect students; and students may not have objected, anyway.

AB said...

The Instapundit spoofs made my day. Hilarious.

Rick Lee said...

Holy cow that HuffingtonsToast thing is a scream. I haven't read anything that funny in ages. I particularly like Glenn's picture.

Ann Althouse said...

Lee: I actually think a teacher-blogger should steer clear of writing anything that would hurt a student. I don't think I've ever made fun of a student on my blog (including anonymously or with changed names and details). I think it is hard enough to be a student without worrying that the teacher is going to use them for humor material. An adjunct professor might feel disempowered and less aware that disturbing students as a misuse of authority.

bll said...


check out the blogroll links compared to the names.

Noumenon said...

I don't believe the phantom professor is real. The profiles on the students are portray a bunch of flat Richie Rich characters, yet the professors they hire to teach them seem oddly second-rate. (In one anecdote, they don't even understand how to use Google to find plagiarism.) All kinds of sensationalistic things are happening on campus -- rapes, meth labs, professors living in their offices -- and yet none of these get picked up in the media even though everybody knows, but somehow are still too stupid to lock the doors of their second cars anyway.

She could be real and just papering her life over with drama and stereotypes of the pampered, self-esteem-fed slacker, but from the way she waxes poetic about writing from time to time I think she's getting a charge making the whole thing up.

Gerry said...

"I particularly like Glenn's picture."

Rick, have you ever seen the video that picture is screen-captured from? I wish I had a link to share. It is absolutely a riot.

bll said...

It's the Numa Numa dance! The eyebrow bit is brilliant.

Ann Althouse said...

Oh, yeah, the Numa Numa guy. I remember him.

I know some of the blogroll links are little jokes. Cute. Mine really goes here those. If you click the right ones you can find out who some of the writers are. I'm not surprised.

leeontheroad said...

Ann, I don't think I've read anything of which UW could reasonably complain-- quite the opposite.

As to adjuncts, I've never met an one who *wasn't* aware he or she had less job security or protection than tenured or tenure-track profs. I'd be surprised if the relative status of teaching (or research) faculty in most departments at most American colleges and universities was *not* at issue. For example, while many faculty members don't attend meetings, I'm not even sure adjuncts are *invited.* (And the list goes on. . . )

But plenty about being a university instructor or professor is common sense, or should be. If it's not common sense to keep private details about their lives or thoughts that students choose to share (absent various -cides), then all faculty should have to go to training sessions about it. And won't there be an uproar if that happens! (And one-off "trainings" don't do much, either.)

The Arianna said...

Arianna thanks you for your unimportant insignificant link and hopes that one day you will elevate yourself into her social class, unlike that straw-haired chambermaid, Martha Stewart.

Rick Lee said...

Gerry... yeah, that's why I appreciated it so much. When the Numa Numa Dance thing started to hit, I followed all of the news reports about Gary Brolsma, a clerk in a Staples store in NJ. Apparently, the poor guy was really sorry for having made himself a worldwide phenom. I thought it was a really interesting story, not unlike a lottery winner who turns out to regret the whole thing. I also went to a lot of trouble to track down and buy a CD of that music.