Historyonics blog (Tim Hitchcock) – Interview #2


 “I think that at the moment we don’t yet have a clear sense of how blogging and the blogger-sphere and Twitter, fit into the academic world in general and that the best practice comes from standing back and saying well, what are you trying to do as an historian?”

– Professor Tim Hitchcock 

This podcast looks at a very different type of History blog.  Tim Hitchcock is Professor of Eighteenth-Century History at the University of Hertfordshire.  He is a digital historian and has undertaken a leading role and contribution to various online projects including the Old Bailey Proceedings; London Lives; and connected Histories.  Back in 2007 he also set up a blog that he named Historyonics to talk about various aspects of his work, upload transcripts from papers he has given, and as a means to comment on digital projects, although Tim is the first to admit that the blog did not start out with any particular goal in mind, nor does it necessarily now.

This interview was interesting for various reasons.  First we are dealing with a personal blog set up with the only goal in mind to serve the authors own research interests.  There was no institutional involvement here, nor any interest in promotion.  Blog posts are not regular or frequent, but posted only when Tim feels he has something worthwhile to say.  Yet, Tim has thought about blogs and their purposes and has much to contribute to the subject.  His view is not one of complete devotion to the blog as a genre or tool, but neither is it negative to it either.


The podcasts is approximately 22 minutes long and is based on a series of questions adapted from those asked in the previous podcasts (see below for the questions).

Tim Hitchcock Podcast:

[audio http://www.smke.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/Blogging-for-Historians-Tim-Hitchcock-Historyonics.mp3]


Outline of Questions asked in the Podcast

Purpose of the blog

  1. Before we begin could you tell us a little more about yourself?
  2. Let’s move on to the blog itself.  What is the Historyonics blog about and why and when did you set it up?
  3. Were there any particular concerns, priorities, and hopes that you had for the blog?  Could you give us an insight into the original thought processes behind it?
  4. Which blogging platform did you use and for what reason?  What did it offer you that made it the most appealing and useful?
  5. This is a personal blog.  Do you try to blog regularly (i.e. post at pre-set regular intervals) or is your posting more fluid?
  6. I have heard other academics talk about how they use their blog to work out ideas for their main research, or as a way to promote that work.  In your view what can a Historian gain from blogging?

Promotion and popularity

  1. Who do you think is your main audience?  Does this affect what is written on the blog?
  2. In your view how successful has the blog been and what do you base this view on?  (i.e. stats, public discussion etc.)
  3. How many people tend to visit the blog each month?
  4. Have you received much in the way of feedback from those visiting the blog?  Do visitors often leave comments related to particular blog posts?
  5. How have you promoted the blog?  Other social media (Twitter, Facebook etc.), websites, leaflets etc.?


Best practice

  1. In your view, what makes a good blog post?
  2. Do you have any suggestions for best practise in using and managing blogs as an individual or on an institutional basis?
  3. Is there anything else you would like to add?

This blog post was also published on the Social Media Knowledge Exchange website.