Thursday, July 03, 2008

An Online Honor; or, Biting the Hand

I recently received an email notifying my that this here blog had been listed on someone's Top 100 blogs by liberal arts professors. Woo Hoo! Top 100!

Now, I'm a sucker for baseless accolades, but this little blog isn't updated frequently enough, nor proofread rigorously enough, to warrant any actual accolades. Having some good readers who seem to think I'm interesting from time to time has always been enough. Heck, I've never even been tagged in one of those "Five Thinking Bloggers" memes--I probably wouldn't even tag myself.

So that was nice email to get! I'm in good company, with Jo(e), and Claire Potter, and Bardiac, and lots of others.

But wait a minute? Where is Dr. Crazy on this list? Flavia? Oso Raro? Dr. Virago? All top notch bloggers, who, frankly, I'd read well before I'd find my way to this blog. What kind of methodology is being used here? Who are these Top-100 listmakers, anyway?

Oh! Look at their front page (well, you can't, for I haven't linked them)! It's all "unbiased" reviews and ads for online universities, particularly of the for-profit variety. Oh yes, there are a couple thrown in there with bricks-and-mortar reputations, University of Maryland, Cornell. U of M, though, has an online campus that may or my not be for-profit, but it certainly advertises like one. Couldn't say about Cornell. Alongside these august institutions, though, are DeVry, U of Phoenix, and Walden University. Hmmm.

So where do these Top 100 awards I've been included in fall into the mission of this honorific-bestowing site? Wait a minute. There's no link to this list on the main page at all. In fact, the post seems to have been back-date-stamped to 2005, so as to appear nowhere near the front page! Buried, if you will, so that liberal arts blogging isn't confused with the actual mission of the website.

So how do I, an erstwhile critic of the corporatization of the American academy, feel about this inclusion?

Not good. First off, I don't like the association with for-profit education. I don't know enough about it to form a definite opinion, but my instinct is that it abuses academic labor, fosters substandard learning experiences, and is generally vulnerable to undue corporate influence on actual learning. Perhaps not in all cases, but almost certainly in many. No thanks.

But what really sticks in my craw, is that this list seems to be an advertising tactic: "honoring" humanities bloggers, is really just a cheap trick to generate links to a site that shills a kind of education that few-to-none of us work in, and probably few-to-none of us support with any kind of enthusiasm (though perhaps I should speak for myself).

You'll probably see some links up around the blogosophere about this "honor," but I'll decline to link, thanks. I don't advertise on this space, even in exchange for flattery. We'll see how long I stay on the list, in fact.


Anonymous said...

Yours was the only English blog I already read - this post reminds me why. Thanks for vetting the Top 100 site.

Anonymous said...

What I also love is how it gets some of the blogs wrong (one of the "psychology" blogs is about epidemiology; Another Damned Medievalist is a historian, not a literature scholar). So they haven't read very carefully! (Yeah, the for-profit schools put me off, too.)

Terminal Degree said...

I was quite annoyed about this "honor" as well. It's merely a link farm to direct traffic to the type of site that cheapens academia.

Glad you mentioned it.

Anonymous said...

I considered not linking as well, especially when I realized that their classifications were pretty lazy. It's a pretty transparent attempt to draw in links, and the connection to for-profit educational institutions is a bit troublesome.

I ended up deciding to link only after a few other academics had, in part because they do list a number of blogs I admire.

Andi said...

A very interesting analysis of this award, although I'm disappointed that it isn't more prestigious because I really appreciate your thoughts here.

Mel said...

I didn't even click through the email they sent me about it -- noticing the backdating in the link and figuring that it was just an online version of those crappy "who's who" directories people are always trying to list you in, and then get you to pay for (I don't read those emails either) -- thanks for confirming my gut feeling --

jo(e) said...

It always drives me crazy when I get an email asking me to link to something. I always treat that stuff like spam -- and just delete it.

Mark Kille said...

You might be interested in this investigation into "Fiona King," who I guess is working the library world too: