10 November 2005

It's a great time to be an academic blogger

In the land of history blogging, there's a new blog to report. Joining Frog in a Well Japan and Frog in a Well China is Frog in a Well Korea, creating a fine triumvirate of Asian history blogging. Involved in all three projects are my fellow Cliopat Jonathan Dresner and my fellow Harvard history grad student Konrad Lawson. Check all three out!

Cliopatria is launching an effort to recognize the best in history blogging. The Cliopatria Awards will go to Best Group Blog, Best Individual Blog, Best Newcomer, Best Post, Best Series of Posts, and Best Writing. The Patahistorian has generously nominated me for some of those awards; thanks, Dave, but I think I'm ineligible, since I'm also a Cliopat. But, right back atcha, Patahistorian. I'm nominating you for Best Newcomer. I've been poking around the blogosphere myself looking for likely nominations in all categories, and right now I agree with Brandon at Siris--there are just too many great history blogs out there!

**UPDATE!! Ralph and Sharon have pointed out in the comments that Cliopats are eligible for individual awards, but Cliopatria itself is not elegible for Best Group Blog. Judges, of course, cannot win categories for which they are judges.**

Now, the metablogging portion of our discussion. My buddy Sepoy over at Chapati Mystery (which is being redesigned, by the way, be patient!) has an excellent post on what constitutes academic blogging, and academic blogging's future. Money quote:
All blogs are not created equal. Similarly, all bloggers are not the same kind of bloggers. Blogging - a time-stamped tool for disseminating information and receiving feedback - is as vast and diverse a phenomenon as those with access to a computer terminal.

I couldn't agree more. So I've been feeling rather warm and fuzzy about the academic blogosphere lately, especially as I write up the results of my survey of two months ago (yes, it's coming, I promise! I've just been dissertating and job marketing and blogging takes a back seat most days to the tasks of finishing and getting a job).

And then I read something like this. I've been watching Paul Deignan slowly self-destruct from the sidelines, and it has prompted me to wonder if this will add fuel to Ivan Tribble's fire. (And this right after a column I've written for CHE goes to press defending academic bloggers generally and blogging grad students specifically--stay tuned for that next week.) Although I've tried to make sense of the sequence of events, and I've tried to see this from Paul's perspective, I can only come to three conclusions: 1. Outing Bitch PhD is completely unnecessary and offensive. 2. The UNI prof who contacted Paul's advisors acted unwisely, but not illegally. The appropriate response from both Paul and his advisors would have been to ignore him. 3. Paul's threatened libel lawsuits against both Bitch PhD and the UNI professor are preposterous.

I have believed since I began blogging that this medium has great potential to bring the academy to the public and the public to the academy, revitalizing both at a time when those inside and outside the ivory tower seem to be separated by an ever-widening gulf. Paul's threatened lawsuits threaten that potential by publicizing a brief and silly squabble that would have faded on its own. Nevertheless, I think this situation is an exception to the rule in the academic blogosphere. 99% of academic bloggers are committed to "[m]aking a critical engagement with the social and political world that she inhabits," as Sepoy says in his post. Amen to that.


At Thursday, November 10, 2005 2:13:00 PM, Anonymous Sharon said...

Rebecca, Cliopatria itself is ineligible in the Group Blog category, but the Cliops are individually eligible in any appropriate categories (for their own blogs or specific posts etc). And you are also eligible to make nominations, don't forget...

At Thursday, November 10, 2005 2:34:00 PM, Blogger Rebecca said...

Oh, OK! i had just kind of assumed we Cliopats were out. :) And I will be making nominations. I'm pondering...

At Thursday, November 10, 2005 3:24:00 PM, Blogger Dave said...

thanks for the nod of recognition!

and thanks to Sharon for clearing up the cliopat question. I was thinking that it would be unfortunate if Cliopatria is recruiting the best bloggers, and their very bestness made them ineligible for a "best of" contest.

i don't think cliopatria should be omitted from best group blog either. i suppose it's necessary, but it is the best.


At Friday, November 11, 2005 8:11:00 AM, Anonymous Ralph Luker said...

Sharon's correct about this, Rebecca. I'll post (an effort at) clarification today.

At Sunday, November 13, 2005 12:04:00 AM, Blogger Muninn said...

Thanks for the mention Rebecca! I am in total agreement, this is a great time to be an academic blogger. I am facing, however, the challenge of overcoming the resistance of some of the professors and graduate students I have contacted about our Frog in a Well project, but at least none of them outright dismiss the idea.

The biggest obstacle I have found is when professors fear that any hour spent posting something interesting and useful online about history is an hour we could have spent reading one more archival document or writing one more page of a future published article etc.

This need to clearly justify any redirection of time from "traditional" tasks to this new medium is what I think I will have to work on. I'm confident we can do this and I'm pleased to say that I have made some progress already.

At Monday, November 14, 2005 9:21:00 AM, Blogger Gardner said...

I just read your piece in the Chronicle, Rebecca, and blogged about it. I applaud your thoughtful remarks. More than that, however, I applaud your hope, and your vision of what the academy could and should be. Thank you.


At Monday, November 14, 2005 9:08:00 PM, Anonymous Tricia said...

This is the first time I've read a blog, and I found it very interesting. Reading the Chronicle article, I was struck by the possibilities of communication with others, a factor I had not previously considered. Reading your blog has caused me to more deeply consider concepts that I hadn't previously. But how do you find the time? Obviously, one must pick and choose what will be the most interesting/significant/helpful because there are so many sources of information and discussion.

The same Chronicle on-line had a reference to an essay in Arts and Letters Daily (also on-line) that began "If a student doesn’t know who, say, Jack Kerouac was, okay. We were all young and ignorant once. But what about young people who don’t care that they don’t know?" If seems to me that it is not that young people don't care; it's that there is so much knowledge out there that you have to pick and choose.

I don't believe that students learn less or are less curious than my generation. I believe that they don't learn all the same things, because there is so much more. For example, we didn't study the Vietnam War in high school because it wasn't history yet. In addition to the history I learned, today's high schoolers learn about the Vietnam War and the Cold War and the Gulf War.

Actually, I, who am no longer young by anyone's definition, also don't know who Jack Kerouac is and don't particularly care. There is only so much time I can spend acquiring new knowledge, and there's way more than I can possibly process. I get the e-mail version of the Chronicle so that I can read the little summaries and choose a few of the articles. That's my way of processing a lot of news about higher education.

If blogging is a useful way for you to communicate and process ideas, then it is worth doing. Thanks for your article and your blog.

At Tuesday, November 15, 2005 11:34:00 AM, Blogger Rebecca said...

Tricia--thanks for the thoughtful comments. :)


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