AHA presentation (plus extras)

Well, I found the notes from the AHA session. They’re rough, and there were bits I’m pretty sure I skipped (probably in favour of some vague waffling about things that I’ve since forgotten), but it did go something like this. It was an interesting experience!

How it all got started
Spring 2004 – out of the blue email from a PhD student attempting to set up a group blog for early modernists (though that didn’t last), quickly got hooked; June 2004 set up at Blogger: upgraded in July 2004 to own domain

– already had a website for about 4 years there, well aware of abundance of high quality online resources in my field – so didn’t need persuading of usefulness of web !
– but scepticism at first:

what could blogging add?
– early expectation ‘immediacy’ and convenience – eg, news and other quick notes, not worth doing when having to laboriously write and upload static HTML pages. But much more than that…

Apart from occasional emails, the original site was one-way traffic
– provided plenty of information, but no idea what people did with it

Blog fostered much more interaction: community, networking; feedback on ideas; discussion and debate, etc

NB: larger context
Blogs just one part of expanding trend in internet use (rather gimmicky “Web 2.0”) – new kinds of software enable a qualitatively different set of encounters and communication between web users (eg also wikis) bringing problems as well as benefits, disagreements (trolls, flame wars), reliability and accuracy

What kinds of conversation?

Between Blogs
Sometimes accidental – like this thread [um, I think I may have skipped this at the time]

But often more structured than this:
NB: key importance of trackback (or pingback) – example [except that at this point we had a little hiccup with the network connection, so I have no idea if the explanation of a trackback that I gave made the slightest sense to anyone without seeing the example]

Within a blog
Comments – feedback, stimulus, information

Blogging research can take different forms perhaps leading to slightly different interactions.

Exploratory notes and ideas when starting something, asking questions, thinking out loud:
example: duels
– this produced suggestions for secondary reading, also primary source references, encouragement, questions, and unexpected titbits of info! (And still getting occasional suggestions several months later)

Or writing about familiar material for the non-specialist audience:
example: detective
– this case was an old favourite I’d discussed in my PhD, and which unexpectedly really got something started following a commenter’s question…
here, here (Kristine, drama), here, here, here (Jonathan Edelstein’s research in OBP)

This was the point at which I meant to give Jonathan’s OBP blog symposium a plug to round off, but I forgot…

The extras

Because I had no idea how the timing would actually work, there were some add-ons in the notes, just in case; some of them came up later in the Q & A session anyway.

problems and issues
1. anxieties about quality control and peer review
2. bad behaviour and managing controversy while maintaining academic freedom

1. blogging not replacement for traditional peer-reviewed academic publication
more like a supplement/complement
– space to experiment, draft out and discuss ideas, not finished product
– informal kind of peer review in the conversations,
– value of openness: non-academics get to see how academics work, plan and think through ideas

2. arguments, emotions, fears [hmm, questions rather than answers here…]
– flame wars; trolls; threats and academic freedom?
– how dangerous is it?

responses to a troll…
legal guide

Some floating links, theme of value/future of academic blogging…

ideas from if:book
art of the blog
research collaboration in science
carnival of ideas
commonplace book/coffee house
my thoughts
something or other at CT
blogging and arxiv

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