Discussion A Pernicious Waste of Scholarly Time

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SWMODave

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Annie, since cwt is looking for ways to reach out and include more well recognized historians and published authors of civil war history, I found this blurb somewhat discouraging. It sounds incredibly elitist, especially since Civil War Talk, a leader in civil war social media, is all of us.

But I do not have the entire article, so I do not know if this seemingly insultive remark is taken in context or just a few sentences cut out meant to inflame.
 
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So, this might just be a case of me being hung up on semantics.

However, I am really interested to know whether this survey clearly defined the meaning of the term "social media," and whether they communicated this definition to survey participants.

For instance, did they define "social media" to include merely such platforms as Facebook Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram? Did they define "social media" to include such message boards as CWT? Did they define "social media" to include personal blogs?

For instance, did survey participants answer a certain way because they only considered "social media" to be Facebook and Twitter?
 

Rebforever

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You know, one has to do “lots” of reading” to get a rather informed grip on all of what we intend to learn. One well informed historian says this and another well informed historian says some else. I am not an avid reader but have to believe historians are definitely trying to drive readers crazy! :O o:
 

archieclement

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Not sure why anyone is surprised. Theres always those who think a field or subject should be exclusively their playground and dont want anyone else participating, am reminded of the "ethics of digging thread' and professional vrs amateur archeology, between the two theres only one group that thinks they should have sole domain, and they tend to be college professors who do less then the "amateurs".


'
 

Waterloo50

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Not sure why anyone is surprised. Theres always those who think a field or subject should be exclusively their playground and dont want anyone else participating, am reminded of the "ethics of digging thread' and professional vrs amateur archeology, between the two theres only one group that thinks they should have sole domain, and they tend to be college professors who do less then the "amateurs".


'
Just a quick perusal of that synopsis told me all that I needed to know, crusty academics who prefer to keep things just the way they are, those guys haven’t even managed to fully utilise the internet to communicate with others in their own field. It’s something you see time and time again, I’ve written a book so therefore I’m an expert or you have no qualifications so therefore your opinion doesn’t count. I’m fed up with those blogs where an individual has to state all of their qualifications, I actually heard one of these self proclaimed experts state that they had numerous qualifications and that they weren’t just ‘an ordinary person, seriously.
I follow a few civil war enthusiasts on YouTube, they haven’t got a Masters Degree or a diploma but they are full of enthusiasm and they’re willing to share ideas, for me that counts for more than some old academic duffer who believes that they are the final word on all things civil war.
I’d rather listen to the people that go out with their metal detectors and do their own research, far better than some archaeologists that hypothesises from a distance and forms an opinion, I’m a big fan of those whom go out and get their hands dirty and share their finds with the rest of us.
 

Belfoured

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Annie, since cwt is looking for ways to reach out and include more well recognized historians and published authors of civil war history, I found this blurb somewhat discouraging. It sounds incredibly elitist, especially since Civil War Talk, a leader in civil war social media, is all of us.

But I do not have the entire article, so I do not know if this seemingly insultive remark is taken in context or just a few sentences cut out meant to inflame.
I'd withhold judgment without reading the full article - the excerpt may be based on statements by some (Guelzo?) who appear to throw out "the baby with the bathwater". This issue about blogs is that literally anyone can start up a blog site whether they have any credentials or not and give the public false or misleading "junk". I've seen a few of those. But, as we also know, there are plenty of biog sites operated by folks who are highly qualified and who do the research. Some, in fact, are operated by so-called "academics" so a blanket statement from an "academic elite" point of view is ironic, to say the least. I don't understand the criticism if it's directed at a forum like this one. It's a forum for discussion and no one person's point of view on anything can be used to say "CWT" said this or that.
 

Mark F. Jenkins

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I think the writer of that does have a point. It's very easy to blog or post something that's not factually supported, and very little of what's blogged or posted undergoes critical review by peers, so there's no inherent garbage-gatekeeping system. Misinformation and disinformation are extraordinarily easy to propagate.

(However, as we can all attest at CWT, we do try to rise above that, and I would argue that a number of the discussions here do serve the same purpose as 'peer review'.)
 

Waterloo50

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I guess that most universities wouldn’t allow a quote from a blog to be used as a reference and there’s probably a good reason for that. To be honest most of the online vids that I’ve seen always make it clear that the narrator or blogger is expressing a personal opinion, my favourites are those that finish with ‘but don’t just take my word for it, go do your own research’.
 

archieclement

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I think the writer of that does have a point. It's very easy to blog or post something that's not factually supported, and very little of what's blogged or posted undergoes critical review by peers, so there's no inherent garbage-gatekeeping system. Misinformation and disinformation are extraordinarily easy to propagate.

(However, as we can all attest at CWT, we do try to rise above that, and I would argue that a number of the discussions here do serve the same purpose as 'peer review'.)
From the snippet provided not sure the authors actual view which is Earl Hess apparently

The snippet just quotes two Gettysburg college professors as representing those respondent's who saw social media as negative. Though one of Hess's findings is apparently "Fifth, and the most striking finding of this essay, most Civil War historians do not trust, like, or participate in social media."

Which does seem to smack of closed minds and elitist attitudes.....even if one has to wade through some murky water to find a new pearl.......finding the new pearl should be the goal of anyone wanting to increase knowledge.......whether its going through archives, libraries, county histories, geneiologies, diaries, journals, or blogs of others who are doing the same.......

But Hess's fourth conclusion was "Fourth, the internet apparently has not fostered increased collaboration among Civil War historians" so they are even closed to those in their same "club".................
 
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thomas aagaard

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I guess that most universities wouldn’t allow a quote from a blog to be used as a reference and there’s probably a good reason for that. To be honest most of the online vids that I’ve seen always make it clear that the narrator or blogger is expressing a personal opinion, my favourites are those that finish with ‘but don’t just take my word for it, go do your own research’.
I extensively used a website made by an "amateur historian" for my Ba with no issue.
I wrote about early (medieval) firearms and this Swiss chemistry professor who is retired had made and tested a number of reconstructions of 16th century firearms. And he made a website about it where he posted his data and conclusions.

I see no reason why that should be any worse of a source than the different books i used where the author had done the same..
(Actually his site was better at going into the details of his testing and result that the similar books where)

And the university or the external censor had no issue with it.

In the chapter about my sources I obviously explained why I thought that his work was relevant and up to the needed standard.

There are plenty of books/authors out there I would not trust if they told me water was wet... and there are people on this forum, I would trust. It is all about their work. Is is well done using correct method and properly supported by sources?

And the moment we start talking about practical skills and what is sometimes called experimental archaeology you often have to look to the none academics to find the real experts.

I currently support a number "youtubers" financially true patron. They all do different types of historical work.
(And I follow even more... but there is a limit to how much money I can spend on it)

One who study sword and buckler combat and the use of viking age round shield have held lectures about it on universities and museums in Germany and Denmark a number of times. He is a illustrator by profession. But get sufficient money in support this way that he can afford to spend a good deal of time on his research and producing content.

--
That said, Facebook and similar Social media where you can't quote, make things italic and use footnotes is not of much use. And I do agree that they likely do more harm than good.
 

Waterloo50

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I extensively used a website made by an "amateur historian" for my Ba with no issue.
I wrote about early (medieval) firearms and this Swiss chemistry professor who is retired had made and tested a number of reconstructions of 16th century firearms. And he made a website about it where he posted his data and conclusions.

I see no reason why that should be any worse of a source than the different books i used where the author had done the same..
(Actually his site was better at going into the details of his testing and result that the similar books where)

And the university or the external censor had no issue with it.

In the chapter about my sources I obviously explained why I thought that his work was relevant and up to the needed standard.

There are plenty of books/authors out there I would not trust if they told me water was wet... and there are people on this forum, I would trust. It is all about their work. Is is well done using correct method and properly supported by sources?

And the moment we start talking about practical skills and what is sometimes called experimental archaeology you often have to look to the none academics to find the real experts.

I currently support a number "youtubers" financially true patron. They all do different types of historical work.
(And I follow even more... but there is a limit to how much money I can spend on it)

One who study sword and buckler combat and the use of viking age round shield have held lectures about it on universities and museums in Germany and Denmark a number of times. He is a illustrator by profession. But get sufficient money in support this way that he can afford to spend a good deal of time on his research and producing content.

--
That said, Facebook and similar Social media where you can't quote, make things italic and use footnotes is not of much use. And I do agree that they likely do more harm than good.
I could see how it would be possible to reference the findings of a retired chemistry professor, the professor would probably present his findings using the same academic style that someone studying for a BA would recognise and given that you are quoting a professor regardless of their field of research, Id imagine it would be acceptable to an academic panel.
Quoting an amateur historian for an academic piece of work is more problematic especially if they don’t have any recognisable qualifications in their chosen subject. Having said that, many books are written by enthusiastic amateurs but I’ve yet to read a dissertation where quotes from amateur historians have been used. From my own experience, certain books were recommended by the university and many others were off limits, I could quote from a book written by an amateur but the academic panel which marked my work would frown upon such things. The work of amateur historians is invaluable but their work often gets overlooked because academia has a tendency to look down upon it.
 

Waterloo50

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I think you also have to factor in the "guild" mentality of specialized fields.
Do you mean ‘like a closed shop’? It wouldn’t surprise me, I’ve seen situations where historians have closed ranks against anyone that dares to offer an alternative explanation to their hypothesis.
 

Pat Young

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I have not read Hess’s article yet. It summarizes survey results with commentary by some historians.

I see a lot of younger historians using social media quite a bit, so there may be a generational divide between digital natives and the over-50 set.

Some of the best known under-50 historians Tweet, and use Facebook to communicate with each other and the interested public. A smaller number blog. A few make podcasts, though this number seems to be increasing.

Old guys like Gary Gallagher and Guelzo have been pretty constant critics of academics getting deeply involved in social media.
 
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Mark F. Jenkins

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Do you mean ‘like a closed shop’? It wouldn’t surprise me, I’ve seen situations where historians have closed ranks against anyone that dares to offer an alternative explanation to their hypothesis.
Which itself does not invalidate the hypothesis.

In another aspect of history, there are a group of people, likely inspired by Velikovsky, who want to rearrange the timeline of the 1st and 2nd millieniums BC. They do so by ignoring contrary facts like carbon 14 datings, contemporary documents, astronomical observations, and anything else that gets in the way of their message. Real historians have indeed closed ranks against them, but for their shoddy methodology, not their conclusions.
 

Eric Wittenberg

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This is being represented as coming from the September 2019 issue of 'Civil War History'.

I was wondering if anyone subscribed and could tell me if the context of this paragraph does or does not reflect the overall tone of the article.
Guelzo's a pompous you-know-what. That statement certainly reflects him and who he is....

I blogged for years until I burned out on it. I often used my blog as a laboratory to try out ideas and get feedback on those ideas. It was invaluable. And it has not in any fashion limited or restricted the deep research that I do. If anything, it provided incentive to turn some of the ideas I tried out into larger, deeper projects.
 
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