Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Why Gary Gallagher Doesn't Trust Civil War Blogs

Dr. Gary Gallagher
(Courtesy of C-Span)
The June 2012 edition of Civil War Times (CWT) included a commentary on Civil War blogs by Professor Gary Gallagher titled "Tramp, Tramp, Tramp the Bloggers March."  The editorial included a picture of Paris Hilton wearing a Union cap (an all time low for CWT) in reference to a criticism made of Dr. Gallagher.

For Dr. Gallagher's edification blogs are simply electronic versions of published commentaries.  The difference is the speed and timing of the opinion pieces.  Where Gallagher's thoughts appear six times a year, bloggers can at a weekly, daily or hourly pace.  Like books and journal articles, there are good and bad blogs. Blogging by its very nature is more prone to sloppy research and bad writing. 

I am always hesitant to venture too far into articles in which the author admits his lack of knowledge.  Dr. Gallagher  says he doesn't have the expertise to assess individual blogs.  I am also concerned that he confesses to resisting "technological innovation of almost all kinds."  Equipped with these limitations, Gallagher lumps all blogs into a group.  Perhaps he laments the loss of control over the dissemination of historical information.  This seems to be an issue with some academics who think that those without formal credentials lack the ability to perform research or produce scholarly works.  Where would Civil War students be without the efforts of Shelby Foote with only a honorary doctorate from the University of North Carolina. 

As a blogger and academic I try to produce well-written articles that include citations to my information sources.  I use my blog Salient Points to share tidbits from my research, reviews of Civil war books, and comments on journal articles.   I use the web to provide copies of my Microsoft Power Point lectures and additional resources to my students.

I hope that Dr. Gallagher will overcome his resistance to technology and develop his own blog.  I would welcome the opportunity to read his thoughts more often and to discuss his ideas in an open forum.

(Source: "Tramp, Tramp, Tramp the Bloggers March," Dr. Gary Gallagher, Civil War Times, June 2012, pp.18-20)

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