Please allow me to reintroduce myself, my name is.. Abu Aardvark.
It's been more than five years since I put this blog into mothballs and moved over to Foreign Policy. That blog in turn closed down a few years later as I began editing the late, great Middle East Channel, transitioned over to a weekly column, and sent the link + comment game over to Twitter. This year, I jumped into the Monkey Cage.
But occasionally of late I've found myself missing having a place for short essays on random topics, brief comments that don't quite merit a full Monkey Cage article, or responses to questions more than 140 characters long. Finally, it dawned on me -- what I needed was a blog.
A blog! I know... how 2004. Who blogs anymore? But hey -- 50 Cent just got G-Unit back together and Outkast is on tour, U.S. soldiers are back in Iraq, and everyone's ginning up for a new war on Islamist terror. Why not rock a throwback Old School blog?
To be honest, it's the complete superfluity of the whole enterprise that makes me want to bring blogs back. It's not like I really need a publication outlet - things done changed. Back when we started this blogging thing, circa 2002, academics had virtually no outlets with which to engage with public debate. Today, there are dozens of websites, group blogs, think tanks, newspapers and magazines competing relentlessly for content on every topic, making it almost impossible for most would-be writers to not find a place to publish. A lot of the old school blogs have gone dead or gone pro, or merged into (often excellent) group blogs.
There's still plenty of great political science blogging out there, of course: Tom Pepinsky. Jay Ulfelder. Steve Saideman. Chris Blattman. Christian Davenport. Zombie King Drezner. But not me. As a friend put it the other day (hopefully as a compliment!), I'm a blogger now the way Dr. Dre is a rapper: back in the day, for sure, but now most of my energy goes into production. The time that I used to spend on writing Abu Aardvark goes to editing the Monkey Cage, writing longer-form essays, and helping to build the academic field through the Project on Middle East Political Science.
I'm not giving any of that up, but mixtapes have their place too. Not everything belongs on the Monkey Cage or in an academic journal, and Twitter's 140 can only take things so far. And seriously, what better time to go back to the blogs than when blogging is dead? So I'm going to reopen this blog on a trial basis, for notes on books and articles, responses to questions, brief thoughts, fragmentary research findings, reviews of hip hop albums, and whatever else I feel like. I have no idea how often I'll post or whether it will last, especially as the academic semester inexorably pulls me underwater, but why not give it a try?
Note: The playlist for this post features Nas, Jay-Z, Dr. Dre, Notorious BIG, and TDE
Note: "Aardvark in Burrow" image courtesy of http://wildlifeact.com/blog/aardvarks-the-architects-of-the-african-bush/