Spare Me the Footnotes

The question has arisen about footnotes on a blog. I’m not a big fan of academical blogging, where the pattern seems to be the pattern of a research paper. That is a different medium and serves a different purpose. To me it seems a violation of one’s sense of proportion to put that sort of rigor of precision into one’s use of a blog. And so I am embarrassed to use footnotes seriously on a blog.

Also the use of footnotes in blogging seems to me to proclaim a certain obtuseness on the part of the perpetrator (forgive me perpetrators, if you are even reading this, but now you know how it comes across at least to one). As if research papers were things anybody really desired to read. Nobody is interested in my tedious and meticulous research unless they are being paid to be, and nobody is paid to read a blog in that way. Certainly, no serious researcher is going to cite a blog post which has no structures of peer-review and systematic accountability. Or do they do that now?

Which is not to say that a note might not be helpful, if nothing else to mock the blog footnoters. I enjoyed blogging my thesis because then I could say I did it–though I’m afraid the notes did not come through (nobody complained). And sometimes the notes really help without creating the impression that the person doing it is hidebound by the conventions of another medium. But here’s what irritates me: there are ways of getting information across which perhaps require more imagination and invention than the footnote, but might be more adequate to the medium (hyperlinks are the citations of the internet, aren’t they?). And is the research precision altogether necessary when no serious researcher ought to be using the blog the way you would an academic publication?

I’m just trying to help people, the person might say. To which I say: (1) ha! and (2) who?

Furthermore and moreover, true academical publishing is not big on imaginative uses of the standards, is it? I remember the hideboundness of the practice of putting title pages on academic papers prevailing at the institution where I went and I shall not here cite (I think in 8 yrs I complied once and was ashamed afterward and still am). There was a guideline in Turabian for theses which was slavishly followed for mere term papers, when one would think a regular paper was nowhere so grand as a thesis. Perhaps it was my sole peculiarity, but I resisted it (based on a deliberate choice after careful examination of Turabian, I might add), after all, what is a grade in comparison with one’s valuable sense of proportion? It embarrassed me to do what was required, and I resisted it.* One’s sense of proportion, however bad it may be, doesn’t need to be worse.^Life, after all, is more important than grades.@

And it is the violation of the sense of proportion–trampled underfoot so heedlessly by the present generation–that makes me balk at academical footnotes on a blog.

So what will I do? I’ll say, look, get your own access and arrange the post the way you want it to appear. That way I will not have the embarrassment of participating in something I feel is obtuse, and you will have the joy of all your learning and hard work and obvious mastery of another medium than the one you are using on display. Besides, the formatting is something I have never been able to do correctly on a blog.

*In the interests of precision let me say that I am on record, or at least I fancy I am, of saying to the registrar that the way title pages for term papers were handled in the institution was disproportionate. You’ll have to take my word for that.

^On the value and necessity of such.



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