Blogging is easy to downgrade at times, given its perceived similarity (and inferiority) compared to published research. After all, “No one ever got tenure from publishing in the Journal of WordPress Studies.” However, I’d like to point out three ways in which blogging can create value in research, teaching, and service.
Promoting our own research. Suppose that you wrote a paper five years ago on a topic that now is becoming more popular, or that recently has been in the news. By blogging about the insights of your paper, you now add an additional Google link to that paper, helping it rise higher in the search results. I also recall a colleague who did some writing on Wikipedia on uncovered topics she had worked on, thus increasing her visibility. Such writing will make it more likely that other researchers or industry figures will find your work via search and cite you or see you as an authority.
Gaining credit for non-publishable research or industry insight. Understandably, professors are concerned about having their good ideas used by others before we can publish them. However, we all have ideas in fields outside our own, or have written papers that we eventually discarded that still had some use. There is a systematic issue of unnecessary idea decay in academia. I posit that writing briefly about such insights provides value to us and to the profession, and gains goodwill from other researchers who may be inspired by those ideas. Unpublished ideas that we are sure we cannot use have a value of zero if those papers merely rot away in our filing cabinets.
Building rapport with local firms and students. Let me preface this by saying this value depends if your students and local firms are invested in social media. An example of building rapport is writing about various projects your students or you work on, especially if done with local businesses. Such interactions also have potential to serve as anecdotes validating the service one provides to the community, or providing opportunities for consulting and partnership. A major blogging benefit is getting additional credit for work you have already done.
I also have two specific examples of my own. I used to ban cell phones and computers in my Managing Innovation and Technology class. Understandably, some students disagreed with my ironic dictatorship. One student decided to debate me on the topic. He published a blog on that topic, as did I. The resulting exchange reflected well on both of us and amused the class, without taking valuable class time to discuss all our reasons and creating a tense environment. In addition, I once wrote a blog on technology adoption for the elderly. A friend told me my article was passed out by his boss as a reference.
In conclusion, no, blogging is not a good fit for everyone. However, good blogging complements one’s productivity rather than substitutes for it.