This morning I witnessed (and was a part of) something that reminds me of the usefulness of social media in advancing historical discussion. On Facebook Kevin Levin raised a question spurred by a recent news event concerning our understanding of the Civil War. His post called forth several responses, and in turn those responses sparked even more discussion.
I’ll leave it to Kevin to discuss the content of the exchange in more detail … but what was worth noting is how quickly he got feedback, how diverse it was, how thoughtful it was, and how well it stayed on point. Once upon a time it would have taken a lot more time and effort to obtain feedback and to respond to it … often after one had already advanced through the scholarly process toward presentation or publication. I suspect Kevin’s already had reason to ask new questions and to think about his initial inquiry in different ways.
Finally, what forged the cybercommunity for this particular scholarly discourse was the fact that several of the participants are known as active bloggers. That is something one might keep in mind when one inquires about why academic historians might find blogging and reading blogs useful (I note that other professional historians, including NPS personnel, who understand the importance of communicating with a broader public, don’t share some of the reservations expressed by certain academic historians about cyberdiscussion and blogging).
Food for thought … and for blogging.