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Jan 16, 2005 9:11 am


More Noted ...



Michael Berube says that the Modern Language Association will not be withdrawing its troops from Iraq. [Ed: craven, left-wing toadies that they are.]

If you had an interview with Armstrong Williams about the possibility of becoming his ghost writer, it might be a really weird experience and you might just be glad that you didn't take the job offer.

Andrew Sullivan has been courageously, insistently holding the Bush administration and us responsible on the torture of detainees. His"Atrocities in Plain Sight" in the New York Times is a must read.

I'm still working my way through the links Sharon Howard gathered for the History Carnival #1 at Early Modern Notes. How far along in them have you gotten?

You can aid the tsunami victims just by going over to John Quiggins blog and adding a comment.

Barista understands exactly why Crooked Timber correctly recommended that we in the secular/Christian/Jewish West ought to explore the blogs nominated for the Brass Crescent Awards. Park your provincialism outside its classroom and enter worlds you do not know.

Michael Bellesiles reports that FOX News is alarmed that the Bush administration will celebrate Martin Luther King Day with a declaration of unilateral disarmament.

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Maarja Krusten - 1/17/2005

Over on the main page, Ron Robin notes that “The internet forum blurs distinctions between the public and professional arenas, the local and the global, while empowering in the process a broad range of participants, arbitrators, and rule makers. Anyone with even the slightest interest or even passing competence may weigh in and contribute to ongoing forums. Given the Internet's deep memory, latter-day scandals and deviancy debates are, as well, practically immortal. They never fade away, and they can be brought back to haunt the original protagonist at a stroke of a keyboard.”

This brought to mind Dr. Dresner’s comment about circles of discourse authority. How will future readers regard HNN’s postings from 2004 and 2005? What conclusions will they draw about topics and posters drawing the most responses and ones met with silence? That will be up to the individual reader, obviously.

I don’t read enough blogs to know if HNN is typical. But it seems to me that choosing to post on a forum carries numerous risks. In my case, I started posting on HNN because I was interested in how the “historians” whom I thought posted here viewed issues. (I learned too late that most of the people who post comments are not actually historians and that many of them are not even scholars.) Also, it seemed like a good potential site to discuss what affects historical research and archival issues.

I anticipated getting involved in lively debates on such topics. That didn’t turn out to be the case. (Look at Mr. Shenkman’s report on the 2005 AHA convention. The posting that drew multiple exchanges -- 15 to date -- was the one by Richard Morgan on Washington state politics, a topic not mentioned anywhere in Mr. Shenkman’s posted article. My various comments on the public access issues raised at the AHA convention drew little or no reaction.) I've now concluded, too late, that HNN primarily has become a place for people to air political views rather than debate issues related to history or historiography.

The issues I’ve raised have drawn little response, not, I suspect, because I lack authority in commenting on them. In fact, the problem more likely is that I have too much specialized experience that is unlike that of most readers or posters--no one else posting here has listened to undisclosed White House tapes, applied complex public access regulations to historical information, or battled a former President’s lawyers.

I mostly regret having posted anything on HNN, given what Mr. Robin refers to as the Internet’s “deep memory.” People can draw too many inferences from this forum, some of them unwarranted. It is as easy for people to assume that no one agreed with many of my postings or that readers opposed the archival principles I supported, as it is to conclude that the topics I raised were not of interest to HNNers, were too complex or arcane to elicit snappy responses, or that I simply failed to establish any rapport with the bloggers. Ah well, too late now. I should have done more research on HNN, and read some of the archived articles and postings, before I ever plunged in here.


Jonathan Dresner - 1/16/2005

Yeah, I noticed that one, too..... Though ironically, it's the younger one who's asserting professional humility. Perhaps as a way of raising his own relative authority. Deconstruction works both wys.

Reminds me of the talks at the Scandal paper, regarding circles of discourse authority. But for them to function, they have to be recognized, and HNN strips away some of the credentialling.


Ralph E. Luker - 1/16/2005

Do you know what? That old saw about the more you know, the more you know that you don't know is just _so true_. I was finally convinced of this when I read an exchange between a young historian and a middle-aged one over on the mainpage. The younger guy rather aggressively asserts his competence in a wide range of subjects and fields. The older guy speaks with some authority on a limited subject. The younger one hasn't a clue about either the subject or who he's arguing with. I'm hoping he'll mature and learn some modesty, but it will be a rough ride.


Jonathan Dresner - 1/16/2005

I've read most of it, but only because much of it was, mercifully, stuff I'd already seen via our own (soon to explode) blogroll. Still, it's great work bringing it all together, and bodes very well for the future of historioblogging.

I'm not sure how much more "knowledge of one's own ignorance" my historian's ego can take. Grading will help, though....

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