Discussion A Pernicious Waste of Scholarly Time

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Old_Glory

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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.
I would place this author beneath Civil War bloggers after reading that pile of rubbish. How is it that scholarly inquiry can never occur in a blog? Is he saying it can never happen on an internet forum as well?
 

Joshism

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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?
I know I don't think of message boards or blogs as social media. The word count is usually much longer, the content is usually more substantial, and message boards and blogging have been around longer than Facebook, Twitter, etc.

One thing I've noticed, albeit from a small sample size, is that historians with blogs often blog sparsely or largely abandon them. The exceptions usually seem to be dedicated bloggers. Quality blogging, especially on a regular basis, is very time-consuming.
 

CaliHistoryBuff

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Please do not read this as a political post; IT IS NOT.

From my personal observation, we are living in an era when trust in establishment institutions among the populace has dramatically declined to the point of collapse. Within that context, I do not believe that historians and their professional guilds/associations are immune. Whether they deserve that treatment or not, I am not able or qualified to render such a verdict.

That is all I have to say on that.
 

Nathanb1

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I used to blog on the ACW until I forgot to renew my domain name. I must say I went over the top in my research, and granted that a lot of my posts were narrow in scope (ancestors), a blog seemed the only place to put the research if I wanted to get it out there.
And it was really great. You, @andy Hall, @Eric Wittenberg...even Cash! I've always believed in doubly researching and checking sources anyway, so I do that on anyone. I'm like Eric--to the old coots who can't even use social media of any kind....

 

Joshism

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From my personal observation, we are living in an era when trust in establishment institutions among the populace has dramatically declined to the point of collapse. Within that context, I do not believe that historians and their professional guilds/associations are immune. Whether they deserve that treatment or not, I am not able or qualified to render such a verdict.
The problem is, while trust in the establishment is low, the internet has also given a voice to all sorts of loons that put most fringe Civil War theories to shame. (I will refrain from mentioning specific examples because I suppose they might be considered modern politics, but we can probably all think of several nonpartisan examples.) This is essentially one of the valid criticisms in the article. It's getting harder to safely take anyone at face value about anything.
 

archieclement

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The problem is, while trust in the establishment is low, the internet has also given a voice to all sorts of loons that put most fringe Civil War theories to shame. (I will refrain from mentioning specific examples because I suppose they might be considered modern politics, but we can probably all think of several nonpartisan examples.) This is essentially one of the valid criticisms in the article. It's getting harder to safely take anyone at face value about anything.
Which is true of college professors as well as bloggers...……..
 
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The problem is, while trust in the establishment is low, the internet has also given a voice to all sorts of loons that put most fringe Civil War theories to shame. (I will refrain from mentioning specific examples because I suppose they might be considered modern politics, but we can probably all think of several nonpartisan examples.) This is essentially one of the valid criticisms in the article. It's getting harder to safely take anyone at face value about anything.

This reminds me of several “false” history stories that I read lately.

I like to read about and listen to podcasts about folklore. I recently listened to several podcasts about the Myrtles Plantation in Louisiana. The place has a lot of ghost stories. However, if you Google it and read a bunch of the first results, you will read at least one story about the place that isn’t actually true. The actual death records (the dates of the deaths) of the parties involved don’t actually match up with the story. However, the untrue story got repeated all over the internet.

Also, do a Google search about the Lemp family of St Louis. There are several untrue stories about this family that are all over the internet.
 
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I know I don't think of message boards or blogs as social media. The word count is usually much longer, the content is usually more substantial, and message boards and blogging have been around longer than Facebook, Twitter, etc.

One thing I've noticed, albeit from a small sample size, is that historians with blogs often blog sparsely or largely abandon them. The exceptions usually seem to be dedicated bloggers. Quality blogging, especially on a regular basis, is very time-consuming.
My father-in-law is a retired academic. In the last year or two before he retired, he started a blog about his international travel. The posts were all very long. He got discouraged and stopped blogging after only a few posts. He claimed that barely anybody read his blog.

My husband and I tried to explain to him that a lot of bloggers have to keep at it for a while before they accumulate readers.
 

Joshism

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This reminds me of several “false” history stories that I read lately.

I like to read about and listen to podcasts about folklore. I recently listened to several podcasts about the Myrtles Plantation in Louisiana. The place has a lot of ghost stories. However, if you Google it and read a bunch of the first results, you will read at least one story about the place that isn’t actually true. The actual death records (the dates of the deaths) of the parties involved don’t actually match up with the story. However, the untrue story got repeated all over the internet.

Also, do a Google search about the Lemp family of St Louis. There are several untrue stories about this family that are all over the internet.
And probably few, if any, of these untrue stories was created on the internet; they merely propagate there.
 

TerryB

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Bloggers get news stories out that the "professionals" won't touch.
Please do not read this as a political post; IT IS NOT.

From my personal observation, we are living in an era when trust in establishment institutions among the populace has dramatically declined to the point of collapse. Within that context, I do not believe that historians and their professional guilds/associations are immune. Whether they deserve that treatment or not, I am not able or qualified to render such a verdict.

That is all I have to say on that.
 

Belfoured

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And probably few, if any, of these untrue stories was created on the internet; they merely propagate there.
That's the problem, though. They reach an audience far wider than they'd get otherwise. Again, and that said, it's a bad idea to overgeneralize and it's a bad idea to try to suggest that the problem is academic/non-academic or that anyone operating a blog isn't contributing to spreading reliable knowledge about the War. Some of the best out there have blogsites - Eric W., John Hennessy, Kevin Levin, Dave Powell for example.
 

Eagle65

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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".................
I follow a lot of CW historians on the Twitter, and they’re always quoting and supporting each other. It may not be Hess’ cup of tea, but it exists. This article seems a bit “get off my lawn” to me.
 

wausaubob

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Many people want to write about the Civil War on social media, and venues like this one, as use it as an introduction to a discussion about modern politics. The moderators here have to take drastic actions to tamp down that usage. I imagine that becomes very tiresome for people who write academic articles, or work with high end publishers who have serious reviewers.
 

byron ed

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Which is true of college professors as well as bloggers...
How so? Is there any indication that more than a few college professors are disingenuous? Is there any indication that more than a few did not earn their advanced degrees through honest and extended research? Is there any indication that CW history is generally being misrepresented at the college level?

No to all of the above. Belittling academia has become light entertainment around reenactor campfires and at corner bars -- among Confederate apologists in particular -- but in fact most college professors are well qualified and have worked hard to verify their findings as they teach and publish them. Not many are in it for the money.

Yes, it's too bad a few of them are agenda-driven politicos driven by book sales, but let's not judge academics as if they are all of one type -- which is called prejudice btw. One could instead do the work, obtain the same level of education and formal degree as those they judge, that they might legitimately disagree on a case-by-case basis.

These back-door cynical assessments of college professors seem to be based on nothing more than not liking what late academic research has been turning up. Academics are increasingly able to connect the dots of history in a way that previous generations of historians could not, due to advances in available digitized documentation (or lists of documentation) online. To be frank, academic research on the Antebellum and CW has been steadily disassembling the Lost Cause piece by piece, loosing the threads on a fable which has been enabled for far too long, and imho that is the motivation behind the cynicism against college professors. Yet aren't those who embrace such cynicism at risk of exposing their own pettiness (i.e. if I can lower you I am higher than you by comparison)?
 
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archieclement

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How so? Is there any indication that more than a few college professors are disingenuous? Is there any indication that more than a few did not earn their advanced degrees through honest and extended research? Is there any indication that CW history is generally being misrepresented at the college level?

No to all of the above. Belittling academia has become light entertainment around reenactor campfires and at corner bars -- among Confederate apologists in particular -- but in fact most college professors are well qualified and have worked hard to verify their findings as they teach and publish them. Not many are in it for the money.

Yes, it's too bad a few of them are agenda-driven politicos driven by book sales, but let's not judge academics as if they are all of one type -- which is called prejudice btw. One could instead do the work, obtain the same level of education and formal degree as those they judge, that they might legitimately disagree on a case-by-case basis.

These back-door cynical assessments of college professors seem to be based on nothing more than not liking what late academic research has been turning up. Academics are increasingly able to connect the dots of history in a way that previous generations of historians could not, due to advances in available digitized documentation (or lists of documentation) online. To be frank, academic research on the Antebellum and CW has been steadily disassembling the Lost Cause piece by piece, loosing the threads on a fable which has been enabled for far too long, and imho that is the motivation behind the cynicism against college professors. Yet aren't those who embrace such cynicism at risk of exposing their own pettiness (i.e. if I can lower you I am higher than you by comparison)?
Perhaps you haven't read the forums, theres a couple not held in high esteem here. One has been mentioned alot.

BTW you are already making disingenuous arguments, never said all college professors or all bloggers at all, you seem to want to attach your value you make up to me, all I said was college professors are no more immune then anyone else.......the more then a few is your number, not mine.....as usual your assigning values to others, which were never said.......

Your own usage of "not more then a few" would show they are no more immune then anyone else as i said however, or their wouldn't be any......tilt some more windmills........
 
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