Wednesday, November 6, 2019
November 6, 2019: 9 Years of AmericanStudier: Sharing Your Voices
[This week marks this blog’s 9th anniversary! Nearly 2800 posts later, AmericanStudier has become my most extended & enduring life’s work, and so this week I wanted to share a handful of the reasons why I’ve kept it going for so long. Leading up a special weekend list of other scholarly blogs that we should all be reading—add your suggestions (including your own blog of course), please!]
On three stages in my evolving, increasingly central goal of making my individual blog also a communal, multi-vocal space.
1) Guest Posts: I knew from the outset that I wanted to include voices other than my own in this space, and so I featured my first Guest Post (from a very special Guest Poster!) after just over two months, in early January 2011. Since then I’ve been delighted to feature more than 50 such posts (you can find them all by clicking on the Guest Posts label in this blog’s right-hand column), up through Ariella Baker-Archer’s Halloween-tastic Guest Post a couple weeks ago. They’ve all been radically different in style and structure from my relatively consistent form, which is a significant part of the point—that is, Guest Posts aren’t just about sharing other voices, content, topics, or analyses (although of course that’s all part of it); they also offer other scholars and writers a chance to use this form and this blog in whatever ways will (I hope) most benefit their own thinking and work. I’ve loved every chance to share a Guest Post (well, other than that one, but you know who you are…I kid, I kid), and can’t wait for the next 50!
2) Crowd-sourced Posts: About a year after that first Guest Post, in early 2012, I knew that the blog would have to evolve substantially if I was going to be both able to continue (time-wise) and interested in doing so. One of the most significant changes was the move to weekly series, which allows me to write and schedule blocks of posts much more easily (quite simply the only way I’ve been able to keep writing a daily blog for all these years). And as an unexpected side effect to that shift, I realized that for topics which seemed to speak to many fellow AmericanStudiers, I could use the weekend post to elicit and share collective responses and ideas on that week’s subject. This June 16-17 follow-up to a series on material culture was the first such crowd-sourced post, of which I’ve now had the chance to feature more than 110. They are often some of my very favorite posts (ironically, the annual Non-Favorites post is a particular fav), as they draw out many more voices and perspectives, responses and suggestions, than would ever be possible from Guest Posts alone.
3) Social media: Many of the contributions to those crowd-sourced posts have come from Facebook comment threads, but I’m thinking here especially about Twitter. When I started AmericanStudier I didn’t even have a Twitter account; I opened my account in early 2011 largely as a vehicle through which to share blog posts. I’m ashamed to admit that for the first couple years I mostly used Twitter to that end, to share my own work. But I’ve gradually become (I hope and believe) much better at being a member of the Twitter scholarly community, and while that especially means sharing and engaging with the work and voices of others, it has also fundamentally changed how I share my blog. Now I’m much more likely to create a mini-thread, both to highlight a few sides of that day’s and week’s topics and to encourage responses and conversation from my thousands of fellow scholarly Tweeters. Sometimes those end up being part of crowd-sourced posts (in weeks when I feature them), but they always affect and change and strengthen my own thoughts and the blog. One more way your voices have become increasingly central to this space!
Next anniversary reflection tomorrow,
PS. Other scholarly blogs you’d suggest for the weekend list? Or ideas for Guest Posts you’d like to contribute (email me if so!)?