Three Observations from Matt Gallman

Over at Kevin Levin’s Civil War Memory a conversation has continued about blogging, with Matt Gallman weighing in again.  Here’s what Matt now says are his three main points:

(1) Are readers of CW blogs a good approximation of “the public” when it comes to public opinion? I posited that perhaps CW blogs attract people who are particularly interested in the CW, and perhaps in particular topics. That is, there is an awful lot of “public” out there who I don’t imagine are reading blogs.

(2) Are professional historians really missing out if they don’t spend much time reading CW blogs? Here my point was that there is an unending material out there that we can read. We don’t read it all, We make choices among worthy things.

(3) Is the failure to blog or to read blogs really evidence of a lack of “digital literacy”? My argument is that there are an awful lot of ways that one might engage with electronic resources and/or the internet, both in their research or their pedagogy or just for edification. Blogging (or reading blogs) is not the measure of digital literacy.

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Historians and the Digital Landscape: Prelude

Over the last week, I’ve noticed several quasi-heated discussions about historians and what some call “the digital landscape” (which may soon turn into a battlefield and for some is already hallowed ground).  There’s been a discussion about the quality of online primary sources that raises some interesting questions about quality control (but precious little in the way of solutions).  At the same time, an interesting reflection about the discussion about black Confederates (in which it is advanced that the issue’s basically been settled and is now something of a distraction) called forth a response in which the use of the internet by the public and in education as a source of scholarly knowledge was highlighted.  That in turn sparked an exchange between Kevin Levin and Matt Gallman (see the comments section following Kevin’s response) over professional historians and the digital landscape, especially blogging (which Gallman dismisses as a hobby).  This came at the same time that I was reading about the origins of Mother’s Day from professional historian and blogging hobbyist Heather Cox Richardson (and other professional historians have left comments in the section where Levin and Gallman have traded views).

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