Blogs > Cliopatria > On Historical Proliferation

Mar 26, 2005 7:47 pm


On Historical Proliferation



I thought that Technorati's tag function would be an effective way to find people who write about history in the blogospher. It categorizes blog posts according to their subjects as defined by the user. Every day, I look up a few of these — including history — to see what bloggers have written about things that interest me. At the very least, I find a blog or two every week to add to the sidebar.

What counts for a history tag is not subject to any guidelines other than the discretion of the person making the post. Because tagging is entirely self-selected, what Technorati calls history reflects the definitions that bloggers employ. Personally, I resist using the history tag unless the post has substantial historical content (something more than an example or two). I also limit the number of times that I use it because Technorati has a peculiar bug. Every time a blog is published, Technorati picks up the tags for the new posts, but it also picks up the tags for the old posts as well. If I publish one new post, three previous posts will appear along with it on the History page. Of the twenty entries that appear on the page, as many as four might be my own.

Despite my early excitement and continued use of the feature, I have been disappointed by the types of posts that have appeared under the bloggers' aegis of historical work. Lots of comparing current politicians to tyrants, critiques of policies, discrediting of multilateralism, ... . With scant, uncritical mentions of past events, history would appear to be the slave of politics. Drop Napoleon's name, a quick word on abolition, maybe a reference to the persecution by the Romans. Don't forget big H (Adolf, that is). German history is ripe for abuse, especially in the last week. One side references death camps, the other despotism. These references to the Third Reich don't convince me of the writer's arguments: they make me despair that there is so little understanding of the nature of Nazism and its crimes. Would either side be so quick to drop references if they knew the difference between "the drowned and the saved"? Luckily this discipline has benefitted from the contributions of writers outside of academia, but sometimes I wish there were some equivalent of the AMA or the Bar for historians.

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