Keeping things fresh: blogs in an age of over-publication

I tried to follow a diverse set of blogs this term, related to both my own personal interests and more general historical topics. Generally, all of the blogs I followed were updated regularly with interesting content, and were particularly active in social media.

Firstly, the History Matters blog from the University of Sheffield is an active, student led blog discussing both departmental work and pieces on current affairs. I actually wrote a couple of articles for the paper edition of this blog during my undergraduate studies, and the website has come a long way since then. Back in the day, it was updated fairly infrequently and seemed to be very disorganised. Now, there appears to be a lot more input from faculty in popularizing their own work, as well as musing on more day to day topics. For instance, my Masters’ advisor Dr. Saurabh Mishra recently provided a piece on the pitfalls of being a historian in Modern India, tracing the resistance to academia within the BJP. Similarly, there are articles confronting the historical basis behind the recent movie, Suffragette, and the role of women in the Conservative Party. What I particularly enjoyed however were the less serious topics which focused on the place of history in the public sphere. My personal favourite was an interview with the historical advisor for Assassins Creed: Unity, explaining the problems of public history within that particular environment, and the lack of historical understanding for games manufacturers. The diversity in scope kept the blog fresh and relevant, and was generally very enjoyable.

Similarly, the Nature of Cities was active in both publishing work and publicising the other works of those in the fields of urban studies. The site describes itself as a ‘world-wide blog collective’, which explains its diverse range of topics, and lack of a ‘centralized’ view point. As such, they’ve recently published articles on the use of green space in modern cities, public transport initiatives and waste management, treating cities as ecosystems rather than simply human places of consumption. What I enjoyed about their output was that it did not focus solely on the West, and instead publicised cutting edge initiatives globally, in areas such as Mexico and Colombia. This goes a long way to making the blog more relevant and inclusive, as well as presenting a diverse range of perspectives, which stops the blog getting repetitive.

On the whole, both of these blogs contribute to a diverse public discourse on history and urban studies, and provide a range of perspectives which invite new readers as well as existing academics. I’ll certainly be continuing to follow both of these over the coming months.

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