I came across this post by Kevin Levin that points us in a different direction than recent discussions … although it reinforces some of what I said in my prepared comments for the recent conference at Gettysburg College.
It intrigues me that a good number of professional historians are afraid of the internet when it comes to anything that goes beyond the unidirectional dispensing of knowledge and interpretation from authority to audience. I’ve heard a good number of conversations about gatekeepers and authority, so many that I sometimes think I’m living in the world described in Thomas L. Haskell’s study of the rise of the social sciences, entitled The Emergence of Professional Social Science: The American Social Science Association and the Nineteenth-Century Crisis of Authority (1977). The development of new technologies multiples the sources of information and opens up the opportunity for anyone to offer their own interpretations, effectively bypassing certain traditional gatekeepers. That, I venture, will be a significant part of the future of history, period, let alone Civil War history, and that seems to me something worth considering and confronting instead of avoiding.
What do you think?