Admittedly I am not particularly interested in American history, but the American Creation blog is very interesting. The authors state on the home page that the blog is “A group blog to promote discussion, debate and insight into the history, particularly religious, of America’s founding. Any observations, questions, or comments relating to the blog’s theme are welcomed.” The topics they chose are unconventional, for example, on October 25, the post was titled “How Alcohol Made America Great.” The unusual topics make the more general topic of American history more intriguing to someone like me.
With nine contributing authors, the blog is updated regularly, though there is no consistency in the length or type of post. Occasionally, a post will consist of nothing but a title and a link to another blog, other times it will be a long-ish essay, and others will be simply a picture with a paragraph explanation (as was the case with the post on October 25). The short posts are good for a small daily dose of history, while the longer posts are good for those who have a few extra minutes in their day. The variety of topics also appeals to a wide audience.
The setup of the blog is quite user friendly, with only a few tabs at the top: an about page, bios for the contributors, and a list of other blogs the authors contribute to. The side bar offers an easy to use search, as well as a list of the most recent posts by title, a list of similar blogs, options for following and receiving updates on American Creation, and a list of suggested books, as well as a long list of references and archival resources. The blog’s home page is where the new posts are displayed, so readers do not have to click around to find new reading material.
The posts themselves are often well-written and presented in a way that anyone would be comfortable reading, so it clearly is not aimed solely at academics. There is usually at least one hyperlink included in each blog post, so there is always the potential for more learning, as well as showing a network of connections on the “blogoshpere.”
I also chose to follow Marie Antoinette’s Gossip Guide to the 18th Century, because it seemed to be right in the neighborhood of my interests. The author does not post very often, but when she does post, they are well-thought out and relevant posts. Most recently, she posted about why her Twitter account was permanently deleted. This made it very clear that the prevalence of digital resources and scholarship does not always make life easier. The account had been deactivated due to copyright issues, that appear to have been an honest mistake. For many bloggers, Twitter is a means of communicating with their followers and sharing their posts. Without this, the author was unable to let her followers know what her plans were, take suggestions, etc, in a more informal setting than directly on her blog. As far as I could see on her blog (I did not follow her on Twitter, because the battle between her and the Twitterverse had been raging for quite some time), she had done everything she should to give credit where credit is due. This is proof that while the digital world might seem like the perfect place for anyone to create a blog and put their ideas out there, it does not always work that way, or go smoothly.
Besides the trouble with Twitter, Marie’s Gossip Guide is by all accounts a user friendly and interactive blog geared towards average people with an interest in 18th century art history, with a bit of humor and sass thrown in. It has the typical layout, with tabs at the top, a sidebar with more resources and links, and posts appearing on the home page. It is easy to navigate, and pleasant to look at; the design reflects the content quite well. The appearance is more stereotypical feminine, but the site does not intentionally exclude anyone, except maybe those who are allergic to the color pink and curly fonts.