The blogs I followed this semester ran the gamut from very basic and informative history to ones posting about current issues in history and university life. The audience determines the content and format which appears to be a large factor in longevity of blogs. Furthermore, the institutional apparatuses behind some of the blogs was quite visible while it operated almost invisibly (or not at all) on other blogs. The institutional power behind a blog has a direct effect on their goals and abilities.
At the straight informative end of the spectrum was Epic World History hosted on Blogger. This free platform says something specific about the lack of structural backing behind this blog. The posts address everything from the Southeastern Periphery of Mesoamerica to Iconoclasm to the Glorious Revolution. Written in a style for public consumption, the posts were interesting yet doomed to fail. The blog faces the nuisances of obtrusive ads and a lack of reputation behind its name to attract serious support. The blog only ran in 2012 and 2013, and only regularly in 2012. (I mistakenly thought it ongoing when picking blogs in September). It had a slow meandering death likely due to lack of support by readers and bloggers.
Harvard University Press on the other hand has immense institutional support. Its website is specific to HUP, blogs are posted every seven to ten days, and the content of the site reflects a high academic standard. It is accessible to non-historians and historians alike, but has a definite focus on promoting the work being published by HUP. Authors’ and editors’ forthcoming work is the content of many of the posts as well as the ways in which HUP relates to contemporary issues. Very recently, the blog tackled the vandalism of black professors’ portraits and the larger ramifications for many of Harvard’s treasured traditions such as the endowed Royalls Professorship of Law and the Harvard University seal. The connected book was On the Battlefield of Merit by Daniel R. Coquillette and Bruce A. Kimball. Its relevancy and institutional strength means this blog has assured longevity.
The last two blogs I followed mainly target historians. The posts come every two to five days and include the types of information that is largely useful only for historians in the field such as roundtables, call for papers, and new publications. There is less of an immediate relevancy to current events and therefore, perhaps, less of a connection that the general public can make. The Junto is a blog for early Americanists. One of their biggest strengths are posts from guests who are publishing or working in influential ways. On November 4, Edward Baptist, author of the popular history The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism wrote a post called “Correcting an Incorrect Corrective.” History@Work, hosted by the Public History Commons, directs its focus to public historians and their professional organizations. It posts about issues in museums (the Women’s History turned Jack the Ripper Museum), new and awesome projects (AmericanScience), and ethics/best practices in terms of thinking of the future of the field. Both blogs are interesting and easy ways to keep apace of some of the new things happening in their respective fields. This service and the involved communities and organizations while hopefully keep these blogs alove and current.
The diversity of the blogs I followed both quite large and quite small. All were history-oriented, mostly with at least some bent for historians. Yet, the organizations and bloggers associated with them established certain clearly visible goals and projects. Despite such concrete aims, some sort of institutional or organizational backing is vital to their continued existence.