Alone in the archives lately? Hopefully they’re air-conditioned. For this, the 36th edition of the History Carnival, your hostess received exactly zero nominations. Much of the citizenry of the history blogosphere seems to be -- if not standing in front of the television, hands over mouths -- downloading reruns of Gilligan's Island from YouTube.
Since it’s left entirely to my discretion, I first offer you a handful of posts on the issue of the day, based entirely on whim and by no means balanced. Of all the posts using the phrases “failed state” and “non-state actor,” Dr. Daniel Nexon’s comparison of the failed states of today to early modern Europe stood out as oddly encouraging. Zenpundit continued the discussion along those lines. Meanwhile, Daniel Pipes noticed that White House Spokesman Tony Snow, in speaking of Syria, shows he is doing his historical homework. Martin Kramer provokes thought with his notes On Israel vs. Hezbollah. Jim Davila of the PaleoJudaica Blog notes field work turned battlefield work – archaeology sites on the border between Israel and Lebanon. And from Juan Cole – yes, that Juan Cole – comes strong coverage of recent events of the Middle East at his blog, Informed Consent.
Which brings up another subject. We’ve seen this headline before, notably around this same time last year, but it might be time to revisit the question – is blogging dangerous, and did blogging derail Juan Cole’s career? The Chronicle of Higher Education asked seven academic bloggers to weigh in on Cole's case and on the hazards of academic blogging.
The internet certainly can hold hidden dangers for historians. Look no further than the encyclopedia. Kooks, vandals, editing wars ; like many academic institutions, Wikipedia is plagued by the ridiculous while trying to develop itself into a good history source. In this article, Can History Be Open Source? Wikipedia and the Future of the Past, recently posted on the website of the Center for History and New Media, Roy Rosenzweig (George Mason U.) meditates on the Wikipedia phenomenon, finds some good examples of bad history, and wonders whether the enthusiasm of amateurs could be a benchmark for collaboration by professional historians. (But Professor McKenzie Wark – who posted a draft of his book online for public dissection -- might be ahead of everyone else.)
Entirely undeterred by the Chronicle report, blogging historians also offered us these varied posts during the past fortnight:
- Jonathan Edelstein, the Head Heeb, monitoring news from Africa, tells us that the whole world seems to be falling apart this month with several recent posts, including And Now Sri Lanka.
- The World History Blog has been banned in India! No kidding -- along with all the other Blogspot and Typepad blogs, apparently.
- Rob MacDougall of Cliopatra offers a collection of online exhibits in Things Illustrated Here and There, featuring links that are "word-light and picture-heavy, in case your brain is in summer semi-vacation mode."
- Forget blogging -- can a degree from "AMU" (Average Midwestern University) really hurt your career? Derek Catsam worries about The Credentials Gap.
- From the blog African History by Alistair Boddy-Evans comes the story of Mary Henrietta Kingsley, an Englishwoman who traveled to Africa and reported back to Europe in voluminous and influential travel writings.
- Timothy Burke (Cliopatra) experienced The Pleasures and Possibilities of Archival Research on a recent trip to South Africa and captures the experience of perusing a peculiar pile of letters.
And to end on a light note, I offer some tidbits from academics who are funny [sic]. Over at the Positive Liberty Blog, Jason Kuznicki shares The Funniest Stuff I've Read All Week. The Little Professor also offers this little piece of academic satire. "Academic bloodsport” has been on the mind of the bloggers at Savage Minds, who share some historical debates turned nasty and also manage to engage in a little video game warfare.
Thank you for reading this edition of the History Carnival; all misjudgments and messed-up links are obviously my fault alone. To nominate a post for the next carnival on August 15 -- and please do -- contact the next host, Caleb McDaniel.
An addendum -- There were many submissions. Something somewhere did not work properly; none of the nominations made via the automatic submission form actually came through to my email address as they should have. And thus some excellent posts were overlooked, and I add them here to flesh out this edition.
In a post entitled Ben Gurion's Limited Vision, the blogger behind Shiloh Musings argues: Israel's present problems can be easily traced to its "founding fathers." The socialist-Zionists were more "socialists" than Zionists or Jews....
In a post that is too well researched to worry about it being a tad bit stale, Hieronimo of Blogging the Renaissance tackles the significance of the number 666 and June 6, 2006: Today is a day to make people crazy; no doubt across the country Christian fundamentalists are anxiously worrying about world government, the U.N., UPC symbols tattooed or microchipped into our hands, and other impending signs of the Apocalypse, the Rapture, the Millenium of Christ's reign on earth, and the end of time....
At Grant Jones' The Dougout Blog appears a guest editorial by Edward Cline entitled Sparrowhawk: Observations of a Book Signer: During my numerous booksignings at Colonial Williamsburg, I have made countless observations and acquired sales skills which I did not know I had the patience and fortitude to develop (I am not naturally an extrovert)....
American history scholar John McClymer tackles "teaching in a 'collaborative, interactive, multimediated, networked, nonlinear, and multi-accented' environment" at The Future of the Book; it's already called "an excellent article about the nature of teaching history, online."
Andrew Israel Ross presents Where is the line that shall not be crossed? posted at air pollution, saying, "Part of a conversation between me, Alun Salt, and Another Damned Medievalist." Another interesting post on the same blog, When is it Not History?, offers meditations on the relevance of history, and has engendered a lot of commentary.
On Cliopatra, Timothy Burke offers a post on The Historian As Snoop.
Joe Kissell of the blog Interesting Thing of the Day offers Radio Call Letters: Minding your K's and W's, in which he explains: In the U.S., radio stations west of the Mississippi have call letters starting with K, while those east of the Mississippi start with W. Except for the ones that don't. The story behind the rule and its exceptions involves a surprising number of unknowns....
Derek Catsam has not been idle; his blog offers posts on Dukakis and Mondale: In Praise of Competence, Honesty, and Responsibility; on The Congo (On Sunday the Democratic Republic of Congo is supposed to hold an election. This is not a small matter...) and on the Ephblog also offers Garfield Reconsidered (If you are like me (pity for you) you know little about the life and career of James Garfield beyond the received wisdom that all good Ephs garner in the form of trivia-cum-school-pride....)
I should have known that a glitch was more likely than a lack of nominations. Thanks to all who submitted them.