Blogging has been a part of the internet craze from the beginning, or so it seems. With the coming of the Web 2.0 in the early 2000s blogging has begun to be prominent in daily life. Yet, just because blogs are a part of an active life on the web, does that mean that the Historian should use that tool?
Yes. It is my genuine belief that the Historian should use a blog to release their research to the public. By posting to a site like WordPress there is a better chance for a Historians research to be seen. Dan Cohen wrote an entry titled, Professors, Start Your Blogs, and in that entry he advocates for the blogging Historian.
Cohen made a list stating the benefits of blogging in the historical field. For one, posting to a site similar to WordPress, or something similar, allows for a graduate student to expose their research to the public. This can be beneficial when it comes to searching for a job or for feedback on completed research. I had attended the American Historical Associations Annual (AHA) Meeting in January of 2015, one session focused on Blogging and the Future of Scholarship. During that session, the speakers made sure to note that blogging can turn historians from beginners into scholars.
Having explained why blogging is beneficial to the grad student, it is important to know that others in the field can see the benefits of posting updates to a site. By posting to a blog, the scribe decides the topic and how to write about that topic. He does not have the strict rules of writing like an academic journal or book. The writer chooses the language. This does not mean that posting from blogs is better than being formally published in an academic journal or a book, but rather that a blog allows for exposure.
The Language choice is not the only choice that the writer makes. He also chooses his audience. He does not make an outright choice in who will be reading the article, but by choosing the topic addressed in his or her blog he is addressing a certain group of people. If I were to post a blog about anti-Semitism in Germany during the 1860s and how nationalism attributed to the increase in anti-semetic attitudes in the country, that blog would be geared to a specific person, someone who lives history, namely an academic. Yet, if I were to post to a blog about the home front during the Second World War, and keep the posts in a simplistic attitude, the blog would have a wider audience because of the topics popularity in the public sphere.
Posting about any topic in the blog-o-sphere leads to an open dialogue among historians and the public. The commenting feature of a blog allows for the ability for individuals to talk about topics and argue for or against the findings in a post. The more academic posts can be eye opening to the amateur historian. This new form of shared authority allows for an open discussion on topics of interest to peoples.
Updating to a blog seems like a big commitment, which it can be, but as long as it is well planned out the commitment is not difficult. Posts are easy to write and they take very little time to complete. The creator of the blog manages the commitment. The frequency of posts depends on the person creating the posts. The blogger can choose to post once a week or once a month, but it is important to keep up to date with the blog in order to maintain its validity.
Overall, the benefits of blogging outweigh many of the downfalls. For one there is chance for an individual to jumpstart their career. There is the chance to create a dialogue between historians and the public, and there are personal benefits of not having the stress of publishing in a journal or writing a book.