The Ether Wave Propaganda: History and Historiography of Science blog run by Will Thomas (Junior Research fellow at Imperial College London) and Christopher Donohue (a PhD student at the University of Maryland), recently posted a ‘five years’ celebratory post. Having been blogging for nearly 3 years myself on the History SPOT blog I can’t help but to think that five years is an amazing feat and helps to prove that academic History blogging is both viable and useful.
The celebratory post ‘Five Years in the Blog’ (posted 1 January 2013) is a reflective piece and is highly useful for what it says about blogging – the whys and wherefores as well as the inspiration and motivation to maintain it. Will Thomas argues that scholars ‘need to take it up’ if only so that they can keep others appraised of their publications, interests, and talks. He is also aware of something that I have mentioned previously on this blog; the fear in academia of exposing unverified thoughts and arguments in the public domain. His answer to this is one of idealism in that he calls for historians to become more open and engaged in dialogue via the blog format. Some historians will be up for this challenge, some will not. There are good arguments on both sides of the metaphoric fence.
As also mentioned before here, the blog can be used for writing and thinking out ideas. Thomas states:
“blog posts that I wrote in the summer of 2009 ended up informing an article published in late 2012”
It is nice also to get some stats. The blog has been visited over 175,000 times since 2008 with its most popular post receiving 7,597 views. Pretty good going!
The Impact of Social Sciences: Maximizing the Impact of Academic Research blog from LSE (The London School of Economics and Political Science) has mentioned blogging in several of its posts. On 21 November 2012 Athene Donald wrote that women in academia shouldn’t be afraid of blogging. She argued that women, more than men, feel anxious about writing unrefined material on a blog, under their own name. Now this blog is referring more to the sciences than to History or the humanities subjects, so I can’t really comment. From the History blogs I have visited though, I would say that female historians equal their male colleagues in blogging participation.
In another post an embedded slide show compares blog articles to journal articles. Length is obviously shorter but in the blogs favour is timing (can be posted very regularly instead of 1-2 a year), can include colour images and multimedia, it’s open access rather than behind a paywall making its audience potentially massive. [to view this post click here: Future Impacts: ‘How to’ guide to social media, podcasting, blogging and writing your REF impact case study]
Simon Wren-Lewis has reposted a blog post on the LSE blog regarding his advice for potential academic bloggers. His subject is economics so he is talking to a different audience as well, but many of the things that he state are similar to what is argued above or elsewhere. It is worth a look: Advice for potential academic bloggers
A recent article on the Guardian website entitled ‘where are university websites hiding all their research?’ got me thinking. The article is complaining that research-led universities don’t often promote successfully the actual research that they are doing. Its author, Claire Shaw suggests that the university website is the crucial place now where that information should be easy to find but often it is not. Could greater use of blogs help? Or, by siphoning off short research based posts, do blogs actually confuse rather than help the picture? I’ll leave you with that thought while I ponder it myself.
If you have any thoughts about any of the above please write in the comments section below. I would be very interested to hear what you have to say.