[This week AmericanStudier celebrates its 13th anniversary! For this year’s anniversary series, I wanted to highlight a handful of key moments and pieces in my development as an online public scholar, leading up to a special weekend tribute to some key influences on that evolving career!]
I wrote at length in this prior post about my first truly viral piece of online writing, a November 2014 column for Talking Points Memo that garnered well north of 100,000 views, became one of their ten most-read columns of the year, and launched an 18-month gig writing columns every couple weeks for TPM. I don’t want to repeat the things I said in that prior post, in which I tried to trace many layers to what made that moment such a turning point for me and my online public scholarly writing career, so here I’ll highlight one additional layer: reading and engaging with the comments. For whatever reason, my blog posts have almost never gotten comments (feel free to break the trend below, though!), and I’d say that’s true for many public scholarly sites. But TPM columns get a ton of comments, including the most troll-y and the most thoughtful and everywhere in between. And I always made it a point to read every one and to respond to as many as deserved any kind of response (and, yes, even to troll back the trolls on occasion), a process I started with that November 2014 column and which I consistently found at least somewhat meaningful (if always somewhat infuriating as well). Public scholarship is, after all, about public engagement and public conversations, and I’ve really tried to be part of them always, in all ways, throughout this evolving career.
Next anniversary reflections tomorrow,
PS. What do you think? Online writing or work of yours I can highlight and share?