A week ago, a selection of Irish bloggers gathered in a sturdy old building once home to the Provost’s horse at Trinity College Dublin. I am glad to report that this Blogging the Humanities event, which I attended as a representative of History Compass Exchanges, proved most worthwhile. Credit is due to those responsible for this initiative, the team behind Pue’s Occurrences.
So, what do bloggers talk about when they get together?
The symposium brought together bloggers and interested parties from inside and outside of academia to hear and engage with nine short presentations. This ensured a variety of perspectives on why people blog and what they hope to achieve by doing so. Some of the speakers write to promote the place where they work. Others are influenced by their political convictions. We also learned how blogs also offer an opportunity for academic voices to try to influence government policies. A useful overview of some of the issues discussed has been compiled by one of the participants, Professor Rob Kitchin. It is available at his remarkably successful blog, Ireland after NAMA.
As a young historian, some of the issues raised were more pertinent than others. For example, we considered the place of blogging versus more conventional publication methods. Should we post material that could be published in a journal on our blogs instead? Can blog content enhance your chances of getting an academic job? Does the format have academic credibility, or should we focus instead on preparing our work for highly-ranked conventional journals? How might you use your blog to promote your other research publications?
This is just a narrow sample of some of the questions discussed. It appears that the answers depend to some extent on what career stage a person is at. Established academics might well disseminate important new research through the medium of the blog, but they have usually gotten to where they now are by exploiting more traditional publication methods. To what extent can less experienced and less published scholars use a blog to develop a reputation for serious research? What are the risks involved? How can they attract their target readership to a new format?
In the course of our discussions, plenty of positive points emerged. For example, it was agreed that the opportunity to write more informally and footnote free can be somewhat liberating, as well as actually contributing to the development of writing style.
Following the success of the symposium on Blogging the Humanities, the people at Pue’s Occurrences are keen to harness the momentum that now exists for greater exploration of the relevant issues. I am sure they would welcome all suggestions for how this might be done. There is enormous potential for new collaborations, fresh insights, and greater critical analysis of what it is we do, or think we do, or think we think, when we blog.
Alternative perspectives on the Symposium can be found at the other participating blogs:
Tags: Academic Conference, Blogging the Humanities, communication, digital humanities, historical research, History Compass, History Compass Exchanges, humanities, Ireland, methodology, Popular Culture, Popular History, publishing, Pue's Occurrences, Trinity College Dublin