Blogging About Blogging

Like the many other forms of digital history we have considered thus far, blogs are criticized for variable reasons. Comparative brevity, supposedly informal tone, and willy-nilly content can make the most serious of internet users quite uncomfortable.

In defense of blogs, and of the history blog, we should note that arguably the most important advantage of blogging is the alternate community it creates for writers and readers, scholars and enthusiasts.[1] With functions such as sharing and commenting, users may accept and provide feedback on their work. These capabilities may soften criticisms of blogs as digital history, and other advantages should be noted.

Unexpected influences and ideas for work, alternative forms and content, and a wider public conversation are particularly noted by Ralph Luker.[2] In fact, the range of blog topics, lengths, and methodologies alone are of great formal and informal use to scholars. Posts like Webre’s “Thin is In: Rethinking 40 Years of Intellectual History in ‘Age of Fracture,’” and Frank’s “A Christmas Abortion” illustrate how good writing, on a blog or in a monograph, are valuable to the expanding discourse in historical scholarship.

But how do we get scholars resistant to technological change to consider these advantages to blogging? Is it by blogging about blogging, preaching to the choir of already-convinced internet users? Is it by publishing about blogging, immortalizing words and ideas into a monograph that is soon replaced by more recent scholarship both on and offline? After fifteen years of blogging, why do we still need to validate digital history practice? I certainly do not have the answers, but these questions point to the considerable obstacles digital historians face quite regularly.

Lauren Ericson

[1] Alex Cummings and Jonathan Jarrett, “Only Typing? Informal Writing, Blogs, and the Academy,” in Writing History in the Digital Age (2013)

[2] Ralph Luker, “Were There Blog Enough and Time,” Perspectives on History (2005)

 

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