A couple of years ago I took a grad course from a very tech-savvy professor. A classmate asked him about setting up a blog for purposes of professional visibility. The prof was dismissive. “The whole blogging thing has pretty much run its course,” he said. “Everything’s moving to Twitter.”
For my own part, I’ve become much, much more active on Twitter than here on the blog in the past couple of years. We’re still chugging along here at PitP, but between a full-time gig running a museum and trying to write a dissertation, I’m doing well to crank out a post every week or ten days. And just as I don’t have much time to write blog posts, I don’t have much time to read them, either. I used to make a daily circuit of history blogs, checking in with my favorite writers every morning or during a lunch break, keeping up with whatever conversations were current.
On those rare occasions when I’m able to make my electronic rounds, it seems a lot of history bloggers are having the same problem I am. Many of the sites I used to frequent have been dormant for months, especially the Civil War ones. Civil War Memory is still going strong, but some of the old standards have apparently given up the ghost. With so many folks blogging less frequently or ceasing to blog altogether, the sense of community across the historical blogosphere—of a conversation among like-minded folks—isn’t what it used to be.
Part of the problem is that most historians already have to do a lot of unpaid writing. For a lot of them, blogging doesn’t even bring in the sort of professional, non-financial rewards they get from all this other uncompensated writing. If you start something that requires time but brings in neither money nor professional cred, there’s a good chance it’ll be the first thing to fall by the wayside when you’re stretched too thin.
Personally, I’d hate to see the historical blogosphere dry up entirely. I think there are itches that only a forum like this could scratch—discussions about the intersections between history and pop culture, informed but informal discussions about historic sites and museums, updates on preservation advocacy, and so on. Those itches are still there, and I think it’s worthwhile for historians and history enthusiasts to address them.