I've been working in the purely civilian tech field for close to a decade now. In that time, despite my intent interest in military analysis and defense studies, I've had to watch that part of my life slip away - jobs I've missed out on due to my lack of an advanced degree, the political climate being one that I'm not comfortable with, and the simple need to pay the rent tugging me further down the civ path. I've come to realize, however, that thinking about that stuff is what makes me happy when working; thinking about military and defense issues is sort of my muse - the activity that calls me to my highest efforts and (probably) my highest intellectual competency.
One of the problems I had with academia as a means to pursue this was that academia seemed to want me to be a knowledge generator. They wanted me to come up with interesting questions - 'interesting' here being code for 'will make us your professors and alma mater proud and well known.' While I had no problems with the notion that I would be asked to work hard, I was somewhat stumped when confronted with the tack of 'what have you got to talk about that's important?' I always did well when handed an interesting question and given time to answer it properly. If there was no established analytic framework for doing so, I had no trouble sketching out and testing one of my own. That was what I did. But when asked to come up with an interesting question and theory-related topic...well...not so much.
I frequent a blog on the internet called Information Dissemination, whose tagline is 'Observations of an armchair admiral.' It is run by an anonymous chap who calls himself Galrahn, and over there he's managed (through dint of long hard work and consistently interesting opinion, argument and analysis) to create a community which comes together to talk about naval and strategic matters with a level of group competency and knowledge that's intimidating.
Recently, he asked on the blog if anyone wanted to help him by taking some space on the site to offer their own commentary, analysis and opinion - to make the effort to brand themselves as another interesting person in the field and to spark discussion. I sent him a quick email saying 'hi' and offering him some of my work here on E2, since I was a reader of the blog already, but he has serving military, retired flag officers, respected professors and policymakers hanging out there by the dozens or hundreds.
So it messed up all my predictions when he wrote back and said "Okay. Let's give it a shot."
Here I am again - and this time, I have to come up with interesting stuff to write about not just to satisfy picky professors either solo or in pairs; not write about stuff for E2, where I can take my greater wonk level and try to translate the dry information out to more interesting knowledge for those who aren't in the field and don't care as much. No; here I have to write for an audience who are, as far as I can tell, probably on average more informed about this stuff, smarter than I am (although that part I'm familiar with from around here) and most important, going to that site looking for interesting and challenging writing in their own fields.
This is damn all terrifying.
But I asked for it. Let's see how it goes.