Blogging History: What are the uses of blogs in academic and archival settings?

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Archives & Society seminar …

Archives & Society seminar
Institute of Historical Research
University of London
26 November 2013

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  • 1. Blogging History: What are the uses of blogs in academic and archival settings? Dr Matt Phillpott (School of Advanced Study) Matt.phillpott@sas.ac.uk Archives and Society seminar November 2013 http://bloggingforhistorians.wordpress.com/
  • 2. Outline • Social Media – what is it all about? • My background • What types of blogs are there? • Do archives use blogs? • Final thoughts
  • 3. What is Social Media?
  • 4. social media n. web sites and applications which enable users to create and share content or to participate in social networking. - Oxford English Dictionary
  • 5. social media n. web sites and applications which enable users to create and share content or to participate in social networking. - Oxford English Dictionary
  • 6. What are blogs? noun plural noun: blogs a personal website or web page on which an individual records opinions, links to other sites, etc. on a regular basis.
  • 7. What are blogs? Online notebook Research hub Promotional activity Journal News Image store
  • 8. Blog posts about blogs and social media A series of interviews either audio or text based with experts already using blogs for their own work A toolkit or guide to blogging developed especially for arts and humanities scholars early in their careers http://bloggingforhistorians.wordpress.com/
  • 9. Outputs of the Project • A blog about blogs •Six podcasted interviews with bloggers working in the field of History (academic, archival, librarian) • An online survey or questionnaire to investigate further the prevailing thoughts about blogging • A toolkit or guide to blogging developed especially for historians early in their careers http://bloggingforhistorians.wordpress.com/
  • 10. “The project investigates the use of blogs by archives, libraries and historians on both an individual and organisational level. It seeks to exchange knowledge of the working and usefulness of blogs between the History profession and the archives and libraries sector through the creation of an online resource designed to gain an insight into why blogging is useful and what is gained from the process.” http://bloggingforhistorians.wordpress.com/
  • 11. Podcasted interviews Archives & Library blogs • The National Archives blog – Ruth Ford • Untold Lives (British Library) – Margaret Makepeace and Penny Brook Individual research blog • Historyonics blog – Professor Tim Hitchcock (Hertfordshire) Collaborative research blogs • The Russian History blog – Dr Miriam Dobson (Sheffield) • History Matters blog– Dr Caroline Dodds Pennock (Sheffield) Blog aggregator • The Early Modern Commons – Sharon Howard (HRI) http://bloggingforhistorians.wordpress.com/
  • 12. What the bloggers had to say about best practice Video https://vimeo.com/69583387 http://bloggingforhistorians.wordpress.com/
  • 13. SURVEY RESULTS http://bloggingforhistorians.wordpress.com/
  • 14. SURVEY RESULTS http://bloggingforhistorians.wordpress.com/
  • 15. SURVEY RESULTS http://bloggingforhistorians.wordpress.com/
  • 16. The Toolkit/Guide to Blogging Categories 1. Uses of blogs for historians 2. Setting up a blog 3. Promoting your blog 4. Shared blogs 5. Creating content 6. Paying for enhanced features 7. Going further http://bloggingforhistorians.wordpress.com/
  • 17. What types of blogs are there?
  • 18. General types of blogs Research blog – talking about personal research Point of view blog – discussing thoughts and experiences as a lecturer, archivist or librarian. Institution shared blog – promotes a department and gives staff members a joint-forum To discuss their research interests Scholarly shared blog – around a specific theme or topic area shared between a small group of academics Events blog – designed to promote one or more events such as talks, workshops, conferences Project blog – updates about the project, things found out through the project etc.
  • 19. Historyonics by Professor Tim Hitchcock RESEARCH BLOG Why was it set up? • Experiment – to see if blogs were useful • Initially talking about holidays etc., but soon focused on mulling over future direction in digital history, a place for random thinking pieces, a fun space to write and think – often a good way to put into prose something that would otherwise just remain as random thoughts in the head. How the blog is managed • Chaotic and undirected • No scheduling, just posts when he has something to say or something that he has no other use for.
  • 20. Early Modern Women – Culture of Knowledge RESEARCH BLOG This blog belongs to a Postgraduate researcher working towards an MPhil in History. “I'm new to blogging, but am hoping to create blogs of interest, reflection and/or casual ramblings as well as generate a network of feedback and related discussions.”
  • 21. A Don’s Life: Mary Beard (Classicist) Point of View blog Book Description • Publication Date: 5 Nov 2009 Mary Beard's by now famous blog A Don's Life has been running on the TLS website for nearly three years. In it she has made her name as a wickedly subversive commentator on the world in which we live. Her central themes are the classics, universities and teaching - and much else besides. http://timesonline.typepad.com/
  • 22. The History Matters Blog (Dept. of History, Sheffield) Department Shared blog Why was it set up? • To raise the profile of the departments research. • To engage with a wider audience and to demonstrate the relevance of academic history in today’s world. • A theme in which a department with diverse interests can all participate How the blog is managed • A schedule is maintained with important events noted and staff expertise called upon where relevant • Entirely voluntary but a growing interest from staff – some regularly take part, others occasionally.
  • 23. The Russian History Blog (various authors, mainly US) Why was it set up? Topic Shared-blog • Frustrated with book reviews taking too long to be published – the blog allowed for an immediate forum of discussion that could even include the author. • A means to maintain an online presence without the additional pressure of regularly writing posts – with c. 10 people collaborating only need to provide a few posts a year • Acts as a focus for discussion around the subject matter • Good for networking – becoming recognised for being one of the Russian History bloggers How the blog is managed • More informal – one person in charge, but only to nudge when a post hasn’t gone up for a while. • Each contributor uploads their own posts • Occasional email conversations re. blog.
  • 24. Events Blog SAS Blogs SAS Blogs is the blog hosting service for the School of Advanced Study and its institutes, research projects and staff. • News/events items • Research posts from the Institutes • Social Media/Digital opinions Uses categories as part of navigation options http://blogs.sas.ac.uk/
  • 25. Commonwealth Oral History Project Project Blog “The aim of this AHRC funded project is to produce a unique digital research resource on the oral history of the Commonwealth since 1965.” http://www.commonwealthoralhistories.org/
  • 26. What about blogs by Archives?
  • 27. Surveyed 113 archives (on 1 November 2013) Blog Twitter Facebook 26 39 (not incl. generic council account) 43 (not incl. generic council account) Other social media commonly used: Flickr YouTube
  • 28. Social Media usage by type of Archive Type Church Local/regional National University Total 2 87 19 6 blog 1 (50%) 13 (15%) 8 (42%) 5 (83%) Facebook 1 (50%) 31 (35%) 10 (52%) 3 (50%) Twitter 1 (50%) 26 (30 %) 9 (47%) 4 (66%)
  • 29. Archives with Blogs Blog system used Blogger Wordpress Typepad Own Design 5 16 2 3 Archive Angus Archives Archives of the University of Glasgow Archive Services, University of Dundee Birmingham City Archives Borthwick Institute for Archives, York British Library archives BT Archives, London Cheshire Record Office City of Westminster Archives Centre Denbighshire Record Office Derbyshire Record Office Essex Record Office George Padmore Institute Hull History Centre Lambeth Palace Library Lebrecht Photo Library Media Archive for Central England The National Archives National Library of Wales Nottingham University, Manuscripts and Special Collections Royal Mail Archive Surrey History Centre Tyne and Wear Archives Service West Yorkshire Archive Service Wiltshire and Swindon Record Office York City Archive Blog Name Baptist History: Hidden treasure University of Glasgow Library Archives, Records, and Artefacts The Iron Room Borthwick Institute blog various New Connections: the BT e-archive project Curiouser and Curiouser The Cookbook of unknown Ladies Denbighshire Archives Derbyshire Record Office Essex Record Office George Padmore Institute Hull History Centre A Monument of Fame Music + Arts Pictures at Lehrecht MACE Blog The National Archives blog The National Library of Wales Manuscripts and Special Collections The British Postal Museum and Archive Exploring Surrey's Past Tyne and Wear Archives blog Catablogue: Collecting archives for West Yorkshire Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre York: A City Making history
  • 30. Archives using Twitter Archive British Library archives The National Archives National Library of Wales Royal Mail Archive West Yorkshire Archive Service Tyne and Wear Archives Service Hull History Centre Archives of the University of Glasgow Surrey History Centre Media Archive for Central England York City Archive Essex Record Office Wiltshire and Swindon Record Office Birmingham City Archives Archive Services, University of Dundee Lambeth Palace Library Cheshire Record Office Borthwick Institute for Archives, York Lebrecht Photo Library Angus Archives BT Archives, London City of Westminster Archives Centre Denbighshire Record Office Derbyshire Record Office George Padmore Institute Nottingham University, Manuscripts and Special Collections Twitter Twitter followers britishlibrary 501,639 UKNatArchives 29965 NLWales 5468 postalheritage 4231 wyorksarchives 3175 TWArchives 3139 Hullhistorynews 2754 uofglibrary 2254 SurreyHeritage 2043 MACEarchive 1972 YorkLibrariesUK 1763 essexarchive 1070 heritagewshc 1023 TheIronRoom 997 CAIS_Archives 953 lampallib 915 CheshireRO 750 UoY Borthwick 668 Lebrecht_Photos 243 RPCLibrary 136
  • 31. Archives with Facebook Archive British Library archives The National Archives Archives of the University of Glasgow National Library of Wales Royal Mail Archive Derbyshire Record Office Hull History Centre Media Archive for Central England Tyne and Wear Archives Service York City Archive City of Westminster Archives Centre Surrey History Centre Lebrecht Photo Library Essex Record Office Birmingham City Archives West Yorkshire Archive Service George Padmore Institute Lambeth Palace Library Borthwick Institute for Archives, York Angus Archives Archive Services, University of Dundee BT Archives, London Cheshire Record Office Denbighshire Record Office Nottingham University, Manuscripts and Special Collections Wiltshire and Swindon Record Office FB likes 121,644 8030 5367 3199 2581 995 803 732 629 583 532 330 278 223 170 157 143 125 104 96
  • 32. Blogs: frequency of posts (per month) Archive British Library archives Archives of the University of Glasgow Lebrecht Photo Library The National Archives City of Westminster Archives Centre Royal Mail Archive Media Archive for Central England Wiltshire and Swindon Record Office Surrey History Centre Essex Record Office National Library of Wales Derbyshire Record Office Archive Services, University of Dundee Birmingham City Archives Tyne and Wear Archives Service Angus Archives Borthwick Institute for Archives, York George Padmore Institute Hull History Centre Nottingham University, Manuscripts and Special Collections West Yorkshire Archive Service Denbighshire Record Office Lambeth Palace Library York City Archive BT Archives, London Cheshire Record Office Freqency (max per month) 30 25 20 20 16 12 10 10 9 8 8 6 5 5 5 3 3 3 3 3 3 2 2 2 1 1
  • 33. Archive Blogs: Date created Archive Media Archive for Central England Lebrecht Photo Library George Padmore Institute Archives of the University of Glasgow Royal Mail Archive Archive Services, University of Dundee West Yorkshire Archive Service National Library of Wales British Library archives Wiltshire and Swindon Record Office Tyne and Wear Archives Service Denbighshire Record Office Derbyshire Record Office Nottingham University, Manuscripts and Special Collections Birmingham City Archives Cheshire Record Office BT Archives, London The National Archives Surrey History Centre Essex Record Office Angus Archives York City Archive Lambeth Palace Library City of Westminster Archives Centre Borthwick Institute for Archives, York Hull History Centre Date begun Sep-05 Sep-07 Feb-08 Feb-09 Mar-09 Aug-09 Aug-09 Dec-09 Feb-10 Mar-10 Jul-10 Feb-11 Apr-11 Jun-11 Oct-11 Oct-11 Dec-11 Feb-12 Feb-12 Mar-12 Mar-12 Jun-12 Jan-13 Feb-13 Mar-13 Jul-13
  • 34. Angus Library & Archive Started: March 2013 Posts: 3 per month Purpose: Started as part of HLF Funding enabling the archive to catalogue, conserve and provide opportunities for more people to learn from the heritage contained in collections. Blog is part of this outreach Content: News items; exhibitions job vacancies
  • 35. The Iron Room (Birmingham City Archives) Started: October 2011 Posts: 4-5 per month Purpose: “to help you find out more about the workings of our service and the collections we look after” “We hope it will be a place where you can discover information, images and stories about our work collecting, preserving and making records accessible. You can read about our local studies and archival collections and new material we receive as well as learn about cataloguing, public service, digitization and outreach projects in which we are involved. You’ll get a chance to find out what goes on behind the scenes and we’ll keep you up-to-date with events we are running, exhibitions we are involved in and our preparations for the move to the Library of Birmingham in 2013.” Content: research; news items; behind the scenes; events; projects; user advice
  • 36. The National Archives Blog Why was it set up? • • • Goal of transparency and openness An attempt to emphasis a human element to the archives - As staff at the TNA are civil servants they operate under a strict set of guidelines and their public relations are usually a ‘we’ rather than an ‘I’. Blogs allow staff to use an informal and ‘personal’ voice for a change How the blog is managed • • • • A long-term plan in place to ensure the content continues Staff asked to agree to provide posts for at least 6 months Centrally managed by web team Posts scheduled 1 month in advance with 3-4 posts per week http://blogs.sas.ac.uk/
  • 37. The Untold Lives blog (British Library) Why was it set up? • One of many blogs operated by the BL – initial set up considerations already in place, but similar to those considered by TNA. • Also shared goal of transparency and openness • Also interested in emphasising the human voice through a storytelling approach • An approval process was required and the theme needed to be flexible enough for collaborative blogging. How the blog is managed • 2 editors acting as gatekeepers • Schedule which includes key dates in the year – an attempt to tailor posts to events that are current. • 5-10 posts as back up
  • 38. Tips for research blogging
  • 39. Be Trendy or be exterminated! • Try to relate to something happening in the news or which is ‘trending’ This is a great example from the Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre. On Friday 22 Nov 2013 they posted by An article about Dr Who being filmed in the region.
  • 40. Getting your message out there! • Start with a news item – i.e. blog post • Talk about it on Twitter • Link to the news item • use hashtags (i.e. #bloomsburyfest) • Mention other tweeters involved i.e. • Engage with other tweeters • Do the same on other social media
  • 41. Mark Carrigan’s blogs Building up a profile online • • • Using blogs as a enhanced profile page Using blogs as a research notebook Shared/group blogging around a specific subject area http://markcarrigan.net/ http://sociologicalimagination.org/
  • 42. Novel Approaches: from academic history to historical fiction Virtual Conference • Visitors encouraged to comment • Posts go up at scheduled times each day for a week, including – – – – Podcasted talks Reviews Articles Opinion pieces http://ihrconference.wordpress.com/
  • 43. The Early Modern Commons (blog aggregator) Why was it set up? • To be a blogroll + - i.e. a more useful blog roll • Includes over 260 early modern blogs with details and RSS feeds plus aggregates their posts A possible way forward for Blogging?
  • 44. The Social Scholar seminar www.sas.ac.uk
  • 45. The Social Scholar New lunchtime public seminar series • To discuss all forms of social media in research and academic-related work • 20 minute talks by experts already using social media in their work, followed by discussion and Q&A • Opportunity to learn more about social media, how you might use it, why it can be useful. Website: http://blogs.sas.ac.uk/category/the-social-scholar/ www.sas.ac.uk
  • 46. The Social Scholar New lunchtime public seminar series 1pm-2pm each month All sessions will be held in Senate House room 246. 23 October Julian Harrison (British Library) The Anti-Social Scholar (and how not to become one) 13 November Mark Carrigan (Warwick/LSE) Getting Started as a Research Blogger: Single Authored or Multi Authored Blogs? 4 December Anne Alexander (CRASSH, University of Cambridge) The ethics of social media publishing: a brief introduction for researchers All Social Scholar seminars are free to attend and open to all including Researchers and research related staff from the University of London and elsewhere. Please feel free to bring your lunch along. Tea and Coffee will be provided. www.sas.ac.uk
  • 47. Conclusions 1. If you want to start a blog think seriously about what you want to get out of it. You need to be enthusiastic about what you are blogging about. 2. Despite common wisdom it is not always necessary to blog regularly and there is no definitive word limit – although under 1000 words is generally considered plenty. 3. Consider shared blogs – they offer a more collaborative approach that can be inspiring and bring new opportunities. 4. But individual blogging is good as well.
  • 48. Thank you for listening! Dr Matt Phillpott Matt.phillpott@sas.ac.uk http://bloggingforhistorians.wordpress.com/