(Digital) Humanities

Digital Humanities for the digitally challenged

Blogging for Beginners

If you think blogs belong only to the world of teen angst, fandom, and overheated conspiracy theorists, think again. In a much-discussed posting, “Professors, start your blogs,” Dan Cohen takes a comprehensive look at the pro’s and con’s (mostly pro’s) of academic blogging.

According to Cohen,

…common criticism of the [academic] genre of the blog has begun to ring hollow. As Bryan Alexander of the National Institute for Technology and Liberal Education recently noted at a meeting I attended on emerging web technologies and higher education, a remarkably wide range of blog styles and genres now exist—including many noteworthy examples by professors. There are blogs by historians providing commentary on current events, blogs by journalism professors dissecting mass media coverage of health news, and blogs by whole academic departments, like Saint Cloud State University’s astronomy department.

For a flavour of academic and scholarly blogging, you might want to check out BlogScholar, a US-site that covers the field–theories, practices, and controversies. And there’s the humanist blog portal Crooked Timber (“Out of the crooked timber of humanity/no straight thing was ever made”). Both sites have excellent links to related blogs you can explore for yourself.

Academic blogging has its critics, of course. After several well-publicized tenure cases in the US, there’s continuing debate about the wisdom of blogging for new academics; one of my own favorite blogs/podcasts, Digital Campus (from George Mason University’s Centre for History and New Media ) has good coverage of these issues with well-chosen links in its Risky Business 1 blog/podcast, and Risky Business 2.

More reading, you say. More writing. And who has time?

Fear not. In the next blog, we’ll show how you can easily use the magic of RSS (Really Simple Syndication) to subscribe to and quickly scan headlines in a Feed Reader.

Then we’ll look at some of the easy-to-use tools available for you if you want to join the Blogosphere, and some of the emerging discourse conventions in the world of academic bloggers.

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