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Sunday, 16 October 2011

A Year in the Blogosphere

Well, it's more or less a year since I started doing this blogging lark 'seriously' (the inverted commas are obviously necessary).  And, as they say, what a roller-coaster of a year it's been.  I've shut down the blog twice, brought it back twice, come to the verge of formal complaints being sent to my university twice (once justifiably, once most certainly not), lost at least one friend, lost 99% of the respect I had for someone I had hitherto held in high esteem, quite possibly lost the chance of a job I wanted because of this blog, taken some pretty visceral abuse, and so on.  All good fun!

On the other hand I have learnt some lessons.  One is that even bastards have feelings.  Another is that if you have twenty-odd followers and maybe 100 hits a day, that (allowing for hits from people looking for something else, like Elizabeth Kostova's novel The Historian or ever-popular balding guitarist The Edge) does not mean that  only twenty or thirty people in the whole wide world read your blog.   Thus you need to be a bit more careful about what you say and how you say it.  I've also learnt that eminent historians don't always read what you write very carefully, and just how deeply-ingrained the elitist culture of the British historical profession is, as well as just how few principles are actually held by the overwhelming majority of the practitioners of said profession.  And this in response to something that I actually thought long and hard about how I wrote.

And as a result of all this I have realised that no good is going to come of me continuing to smack my head against the glass ceiling that those of us not from 'a particular socio-educational background' (you know the one) eventually run up against. 
All told I have managed, just about, to internalise the important fact that, as Newsthump put it, 'stuff you put up on the Internet goes on the Internet.'  Much of it underlines a lot of what Jeffrey Jerome Cohen writes in this very good piece about the Darker Side of Blogging (and I speak as someone who has all-too-embarrassingly-often adopted the 'drive-by' approach to internet exchange, especially when I was going through a particularly angry phase: I hope I have grown out of this, but if I had a fiver for every time I've said that, I'd have ... well, a good 35 quid by now).

But I've also made new contacts which I hope to build on in the future, and learnt a lot from discussions and corrections on this site.  I remain convinced that it is 'a good thing' for someone who has managed to get as high up 'the greasy pole' as I have (and thus has less, perhaps, to worry about) to put up one's research, at embryonic stage for discussion and for those who are interested in reading it and who might not otherwise get access to it in 'learned journals' etc.

H.o.t.E. Hits by month
Blogger seems inexplicably to think that we moved
seamlessly from December 2009 to January 2011...
I have also been somewhat surprised at the size of this blog's audience.  I don't know by what sort of factor one has to divide the number of 'hits' to arrive at the number of active readers.  I am sure that something banal must explain the recent rocketing of the 'hit-rate' on this site to 400+ a day, from all over the world, such as the url 600transformer.blogspot.com being very close to some new eastern European porn site (H.o.t.E. is big in Poland at the moment, it seems) - perhaps the 'transformer' part of the url goes some way towards an explanation - but, be that as it may, that aside the number of page-views has risen steadily to 200 or so per day.  Clicks on specific pages have increased over time as well. 

Anyway, to all of you who read this site, thank you very much for your continued interest.  For those of you who are here looking for The Edge, sorry - he is a fine player who has done well not to suffer from passive pomposity after all those years stood just to Bono's left.*  Similarly for those of you looking for Kostova's The Historian - good novel, very nearly ruined entirely by the last couple of pages.

* Did I ever tell you about the time I saw U2 at Kidderminster Town Hall ...?  If not, you might be about the only person in the world that I haven't told about the time I saw U2 at Kidderminster Town Hall.  Anyway, basically, once I saw U2 play at Kidderminster Town Hall.  There were about 200 people there, at most.  They were good, too.


  1. Wow Guy - that's a big decision, but best of luck with it. I'm sure I shall continue proudly to quote your comments on 'the skills of the historian' in 'History and Rioting (The Inevitable 'Riots' Blog Post): Part 1' to my undergrads for many years to come...

  2. Thanks, Kath. That is kind. I'm not quitting history or even academic history entirely. I've added a note explaining what the plan is, in more detail. As I said tere, though, I still need to have all the necessary negotiations, although my head of dept (who is a fine fellow anyway) has agreed to explore the possibilities.

  3. Good luck with the plan. I'm sorry Poppleton has become an uncomfortable place for you; I remember it very fondly myself. Glad you're not planning to abandon it entirely.

    As to U2, we find we've bought a house in the street where Larry Mullen Jr grew up. But they are rather hard to avoid in Dublin.

  4. Well, I would tend to think the same, but as I said it's possible that I picked up the wrong end of the stick. Certainly I think it is more ethical to deride an opinion as politically offensive, ethically irresponsible, or even based upon an understanding of the issues rather less than one would be entitled to expect of a full-time professor or member of a prestigious university, than it is to dismiss it as 'mad' (thus not even in the realm of the rational) as is, for example, done in at least 2 foot-notes of 'Framing the Early Middle Ages'. At least the former takes the argument seriously. As I said though, while I take a pretty dim view of this behaviour, I might not have *all* the details right.

  5. Guy,

    I can't decide whether this makes me very sad, or very happy. Both. Certainly I hope the change pans out. I always took the view when I left academe that I was sad it had got to a point that a decision to leave had to be mad, and at the same time happy with the ultimate decision.


  6. I suspect that the academic state we're in is all too similar all over. I spent a long time, post-grad, out of academia, only having recently fallen back in -- but it has to be said that it is a hard slog, and its debatable as to whether the research environment was much worse in my "independent", outsider state! Certainly I earned more then (though for various reasons). Part-time options continue to be something I toy with. Well ... we'll see ....


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