Response to Dan Cohen’s “Professors, Start Your Blogs”

I’ve never blogged before. But then again I’ve never texted or tweeted either. As an historian, I’ve always been taught to avoid the word “I,” and yet a blog depends on that most narcissistic of terms. If a person, though, has something intelligent and worthwhile to contribute to the (mostly) body of trash that makes up the web, then that would seem to be a good thing. Nonetheless, blogs appear to be the wave of the future for our brave new world, and historians should probably try and use them.

Whenever I tell people that I like history, they usually tell me horror stories from some boring history class they had in High School. By not blogging, we are probably just exacerbating the myths of traditional, old historians who study the past because they don’t like the present and future. Historians can’t pledge blind and nescient loyalty to print mediums, especially when they are obviously on the way out. Technology, though, can have great benefits for historians; anyone who has used the word-searchable Hartford Courant, Historical database, and then used eye-killing microfilm knows what I’m talking about.

Especially for those in public history, the duty of historians is to study the past, and then pass those interpretations on to the public. Blogs can be used as yet another option, in addition to exhibits, books, museums, television, and magazines, which can be used to teach people about the past. For academic historians, as Cohen says, blogs also allow for easy sharing of new ideas.

The ultimate goal is the distribution and release of knowledge, and if blogs can assist in this necessary process, then I support the venture fully. We at least have to try.


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