Monday, May 29, 2006


More links

I've been happily busy over the last week, first with walking the stage at the Hopkins commencement ceremony (woo-hoo!) and then with entertaining company. Today I've managed to catch up a bit on blogs, and this list of links is the result:

Like many others in the history blogosphere, I'm excited about the debut of a new group blog at HNN: Revise and Dissent.

Via one of the H-Net mailing lists, I discovered this page of online history lectures. It includes a video lecture by Cassandra Pybus and will soon include a lecture by Simon Schama, both of whom were mentioned in my last post. There are also lectures by Joyce Chaplin, Taylor Branch, and many others.

One of the things I've been doing since last Tuesday is playing with my new digital camera. So I was especially interested in Evan Roberts' extensive advice about using a digital camera for archival research.

Adam Kotsko has a provocative piece on the limitations of blogging as an academic medium. Adam recommends this rule of thumb for bloggers: "nothing can exceed the level of rigor of a conversation at the pub after class." One of my blogfathers, Jason Kuznicki (who also walked the stage with me last week), made exactly that recommendation to me when I got started. I think one of the reasons why blogging can sometimes be limited as a medium for academic discourse is its regularity and the pace at which conversations take place. The impulse to post regularly (on which the survival of the blogosphere depends) can sometimes cause bloggers to confuse having something to say with having to say something.

I speak here of myself most of all. "More often than not," warned Blaise Pascal, "curiosity is merely vanity. We only want to know something in order to talk about it." That's a bit of an overstatement, but it identifies a pitfall of blogging that can be easy to stumble into.

Collective Improvisation:
I like Adam K's pub-after-class rule of thumb a lot. But what is this "impulse to post regularly" you speak of?

Posted by Anonymous Anonymous on 5/29/2006 07:19:00 PM : Permalink  

Awesome post Caleb. My wife just bought me a digital camera and I was wondering how I might be able to use it for research. I've seen a few people in the archives using it, but this post was very helpful.

Posted by Blogger Kevin on 5/29/2006 07:56:00 PM : Permalink  

Rob, that's why you're my hero.

Kevin, I really found Evan's post helpful too. I think he's right to caution that photographing can be a kind of procrastination passing as productivity if you plan to take extensive notes and transcriptions eventually. But when you only have a limited amount of time in an archive, I imagine that photographing can be extremely useful.

Posted by Blogger Caleb McDaniel on 5/29/2006 09:34:00 PM : Permalink  

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