Friday, March 17, 2006

All together now (in No Man's Land?)

Quick post - more coming soon, as term finishes and UCAS forms start to play less of an all consuming part in my life - to note Mark Grimsley's setting up of a group blog at Mark - inspiration and guide for history bloggers and winner of a Cliopatria award - has organised a selection of eminent American Civil War scholars to post entries on a more or less rotational basis. Bearing in mind the lack of recent posts here, this seems a particularly attractive solution to bloguctivity. Running a blog is hard work - and as I've discussed before, it can be difficult to ensure that it becomes an academic aid rather than a hindrance or an excuse. The blogger can feel a lot of pressure - resulting either in poor posting, or no posting, or just a general increase in stress which defeats the object of the exercise. A group blog - despite the difficulties of coordination and coherence which might appear - seems to me to be one solution, combining communality of the blogosphere in a subject specific single location.
So time to think about whether it would be possible to do something similar for modern British - or specifically world war - history. The only problem I can foresee is that most of those who would be most interested in running something like this already have their own blogs, and that the quantity of instruction/re-education some of my more eminent colleagues might require could be time consuming. But actually, just writing this has made me think of a number of people who I could recruit. Term finishes in two weeks - time for more thinking then.


Anonymous Brett said...

A group blog (possibly combined with some friendly arm-twisting) seems like a great way to encourage timid academics to dip their toes into the blogosphere. I think on balance I'd like to see a modern British history blog rather than a world wars one, because aside from Smashing the Window and a few English lit-type blogs, there don't seem to be many which are not oriented towards the world wars, which apparently were not the only things to happen in recent times! (I know, I was surprised too :) I'm not picky though, naturally I'd read a world wars one too ...

One suggestion about those who are already blogging, you could have a "cross post" model where they post items to their own blog and cross post them to the group blog if it seemed relevant or high quality enough (like Panda's Thumb or indeed Cliopatria itself).

1:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're right, Brett - for whatever reason, blogging seems to have caught on particularly well amongst the War Historian fraternity(note my careful avoidance of the term 'Military'). I'm very surprised there isn't more blog activity in my own spheres of the contemporary and the cultural.

Dan: I'd be very happy to contribute to some type of wide-ranging Twentieth Century British History group blog. If this embraced the cultural/representational, political, social-economic AND military, and at least some of it can be done on a 'cross-posting' basis, so much the better.

1:59 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Well, done my preaching to the choir, anyway. I'm thoroughly in favour of a modern British history blog. And Chris Williams also seems pro-. So I wonder if we should actually go about setting something up? I can think of at least two colleagues/friends who'd be keen I think. And I like the idea of a grad student/academic collaboration. Brett's point about cross posting seems a good idea too.
Technical stuff: where offers the best location for a group blog? I'd like to get away from blogger if poss. I think I _might_ be able to get my department to pay for a subscription if I could justify it in exposure terms.
Would a modern British history blog require a stronger purpose than just being about Modern British history? I'm kinda reluctant to limit potential involvement.

2:13 PM  
Anonymous Brett said...

It wouldn't be terribly expensive to buy a domainname and rent some webhosting space, I pay about US$100 a year for mine and the service gives me all I need and more ... But there are also other free blog hosts out there, for example, which uses the same software that runs my blog (Wordpress, obviously). It's pretty easy to set up a group blog with wordpress, and it's more customisable (both in look and function) than blogger.

I'd also be happy to contribute but I can also see the benefits of an all-star expert team of academics, without lowly PhD students to dilute the quality! And depending on the topic you may not want too many military history types anyway.

I would say the broader the range, the broader the reach in this case. But even if it had a more specialised focus, it wouldn't necessarily preclude straying into other areas at times.

12:56 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Could we (ie as many people as are reading this and want to involve themselvs), either here or on email, put together a list of some people we'd like to involve? I am not sure about an all-stars team, but I would like to use it as an opportunity to get some non-bloggers online.

5:08 PM  
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