Dan Cohen

Leave the Blogging to Us

The history of genres is filled with curious transformations, such as the novel’s unlikely evolution from wasteland of second-string prose to locus of Great Literature. One of the founding notions of this blog was that despite its inauspicious beginnings and high-profile overcaffeinated incarnations the genre of the blog has always been well suited to the considered pace and output of the scholar.

Original functions of the blog (and the stereotypical blogger), like the transcription of the day’s minutiae or logging of interesting websites (thus the inharmonious neologism, weblog), have, in the last two years, swiftly emigrated to other platforms and genres, such as “microblogging” services like what-I’m-doing-right-now Twitter (with its one-sentence “tweets”) and gee-look-at-me social networks like Facebook. If you’re a trend-seeker, this makes it seem like blogging is passé, abandoned by both the masses and the digerati.

But to me, it’s simply confirmation that the genre has found its most appropriate writers and readers. It reinforces my initial view of the genre, which is that personal content management systems (what blogging platforms really are) are, despite the genre’s early, unpromising forms, perfectly suited for serious thought and scholarship. With blogging, there is no requirement for frequent posting, and I subscribe to many scholarly blogs that have infrequent, but substantive, posts. Put us in the slow blogging camp. As Barbara Ganley puts it: “Blog to reflect, Tweet to connect.”

And while we’re reflecting, it should be rather obvious at this point that thoughtful, well-written blogs can rival other forms of publication. For instance, a baseball statistician and political junkie armed with little more than a free Blogger account and considerable intelligence and energy was able this year to rival the election analysis of most professional newspaper reporters. What are the Chronicle of Higher Education‘s “Brainstorm” blogs than op-ed columns by another name? As I said in the Journal of American History earlier this fall, good writing and analysis rises and makes an impact, no matter the medium or editorial or peer-review system—or lack thereof.

12 Responses to “Leave the Blogging to Us”

  1. Neil Schlager said on December 5th, 2008 at 3:30 pm

    Well said as always, Dan. The recognition and acceptance of the “slow blogging” strategy couldn’t come at a better time for those of us for whom blogging is not the entirety of our jobs. And kudos to you for pointing out that blogs–especially the thoughtful, well-written kind–can be an important component of digital history.

  2. links for 2008-12-06 : Lyonel Kaufmann blogue… said on December 6th, 2008 at 7:00 am

    [...] Dan Cohen’s Digital Humanities Blog » Blog Archive » Leave the Blogging to Us Pour Dan Cohen, la migration de nombreux blogueurs vers le micro-blogging loin d'être une plaie a l'avantage de permettre de renouveler le genre ou de retrouver ses formes initiales axées sur la gestion de contenu personnel. C'est ainsi que des blogs bien rédigés concurrencent-ils d'autres formes de publications notamment académiques. J'avoue que cette vision est séduisante et que je partage largement. (tags: histoire médias culture internet blogs MédiasSociaux) [...]

  3. Kelly in Kansas said on December 9th, 2008 at 8:56 am

    Interesting analysis of the evolution of blogging. Thanks for underscoring that post frequency is not necessarily directly tied to blogging. After all, isn’t that what RSS feeds are for?

  4. Cameron Blevins said on December 10th, 2008 at 12:07 pm

    Couldn’t agree more. And at what point will blogging become widely accepted within the academy? Will slow-blogging speed up this rate of acceptance by making it appear more equivalent to “serious” writing?

  5. Martyn said on December 11th, 2008 at 1:54 am

    I strongly agree too.. the desire to keep up with the moment pushes people into group blogs, but the blog can be a great platform for reflection and non-up to the minute thoughts. I think it’s fun to find individual voices, which means patience with slow-blogging.

  6. behind AotW » Blog Archive » There’s a name for it said on December 13th, 2008 at 1:07 pm

    [...] see Dan Cohen for a thoughtful examination of (scholarly) blogging and a pointer to Sharon Otterman’s New [...]

  7. Talking or Listening? « Collections 2.0 said on December 28th, 2008 at 5:28 pm

    [...] works, but I noticed similar threads everywhere I looked recently. Dan Cohen tweeted and then blogged about some of the differences between blogging and twittering (I’ve got these verbs all [...]

  8. Digital Humanities in 2008, Part I « Digital Scholarship in the Humanities said on February 7th, 2009 at 7:33 am

    [...] and connect with others who have similar interests.  I love Barbara Ganley’s line (via Dan Cohen): “blog to reflect, Tweet to connect.”  If you’re interesting in Twittering but [...]

  9. Chuck said on February 25th, 2009 at 4:56 pm

    Thanks for this. I’m working on a short essay about Twitter, and find it useful to remind readers that Twitter cannot be read in isolation. It is, thanks to creative users, a tool for connecting.

  10. MLA 08 Panel Report I - Microblogging: Producing Discourse in 140 Characters or Less « Literature Compass Blog said on March 19th, 2009 at 10:44 am

    [...] He quoted Barbara Ganley’s widely-used summary: “blog to reflect, tweet to connect” [Link care of Dan Cohen]. [...]

  11. Las humanidades digitales en 2008 (1) « Clionauta: Blog de Historia said on April 3rd, 2009 at 6:33 am

    [...] con otras personas que tienen intereses similares. Me gusta lo que propone Barbara Ganley (via Dan Cohen):  “el blog para reflexionar, Tweet para conectar”.  Si estás interesado en Twitter, [...]

  12. Dan Cohen’s Digital Humanities Blog » Blog Archive » Introducing Digital Humanities Now said on November 18th, 2009 at 9:12 pm

    [...] subscribe to the blogs of everyone working centrally or tangentially to digital humanities. As I have argued from the start, and against the skeptics and traditionalists who thinks blogs can only be [...]

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