I enjoyed re-visiting the panel discussion on Civil War blogging from this summer’s Civil War Institute at Gettysburg College. A number of interesting issues were discussed including the question of whether Keith Harris, Brooks Simpson, and me occupy a position of authority in the blogosphere and whether that position comes with certain expectations about the kinds of issues discussed and who should be allowed to participate.
Peter Carmichael did a good job moderating this discussion and I appreciate his pushing this issue of authority, but his questions and comments point to the gulf between how the three of us see our blogging and an apparent lack of comfort with the range of subjects and voices that are embraced outside traditional channels. We did our best to communicate our approach, but it is very difficult to do unless you’ve experienced the challenges and dynamics of blogging for yourself.
If I understand him, Pete seems to think that our respective credentials ought to translate into a privileged place in the blogosphere. That is not an unreasonable assumption when looking at the blogosphere from the outside. Professional historians operate under a certain set of rules related to publishing and advancement in the academy that are intended to maintain quality control. I’ve experienced first hand the benefits of peer review as well as feedback on papers presented at academic conferences. The point is that there are, at times, reasons to limit certain voices. To be fair, Pete has spent a good deal of time thinking through the value of blogging for his students and for the history profession. His organization of this panel is evidence enough of this. Continue reading →