Blogging: scholarly love

What blogging allows that no other forms of historical scholarship does is an ability to focus on narrowed scholarship and dig in deep. The ability to focus in on random events in time allows for the scholar to really focus on their love and passion in history.  Key examples of this are both of the blogs on abortion. Yes, in a book, one can write anecdotes about events that occur that push the thesis of the scholarship, but they have to fit within that framework. Whereas, blogs can focus on the story and write scholarship surrounding that story.

         As I have said and written a million times, online history is the new frontier and an important aspect of history now. Blogging will be the place that the ideas of rewards and peer review can be implemented. While blogging can allow for the traditional prose scholarly writing, it also allows for access to other sources of media, such as photographs, videos, news clips, sound bites, and newspaper articles. This ability to merge scholarly interpretation and primary sources that the research comes from is a huge strength in blogging.  As mentioned in “Only Typing? Informal Writing, Blogs, and the Academy,” the ability to hyperlink to other articles allows for writers to attach articles that in a book may have been a tangent in the footnotes. Another strength of blogging is the ability to spread word of an article faster and more broadly with the use of social media sharing than say a book, which often cost money to view and cannot be shared between people so easily. A final strength of blogging is that it is one of the easiest forms of digital technology to learn.

      Blogs also allow for brief amounts of information. The Oral History Association allows for committee chairs to post blogs monthly. Some committee chairs are very resistant to the blogging, therefore only one committee actually utilizes this, but every month they write about an interesting event or information that they need to spread about their committee. For two months the international committee shared stories from award winners on their trip to the OHA conference. Blogs can be a safe place to play out your possible thesis, thoughts, or research with the ability to receive comments and support in gathering some information.

The downside of blogging is that anything can be written by anyone. There is no peer review aspect of blogging. Although one for professors could easily be developed. Along with that as mentioned in the essays, it can be difficult to gather a following.

If one wants to use blogging as another form of academic writing, it should 1. be used as a new media 2. Be highly researched, just as any other scholarly paper 3. Use online-open access materials, so that if a non-professor or someone who does not have access to closed online archives could still interact with the sources and finally be written in an academic, yet public friendly tone.

Shawn Clements

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