Nine Years of Blogging

"Ask More Questions" sign on a white wall between two clocks.

“Ask More Questions” Photo by Jonathan Simcoe on Unsplash

I know I’ve written about my personal blogging anniversaries before, but I still think it’s worth nothing that September 2017 marks nine years since I started this blog as part of a course requirement for a digital history class I took as part of my MA in Public History.  I know some folks have argued that the blog is a dying or irrelevant medium at this point however I still believe of its value within the archival and public history field as a form of scholarship and engagement.  Of course, I’ll also admit I love a timely tweet storm and have a soft spot for cat pictures on Instagram.

I have – gulp – written over 600 posts at this point.  I’ve also noticed in the past couple of years that this blog has evolved to have a more solid connection to my work in the archives field. I still talk public history and still come at archives from a public historian perspective — but there’s way more archives content then there was nine years ago.

Rather than recounting some of my favourite or most viewed posts I decided that instead this year I would highlight some of my favourite blogs.  These blogs are ones that I follow consistently and that inspire me to write my own blog posts.

  • Unwritten Histories by Andrea Eidinger.  This one’s a bit of an easy mark – Andrea’s blog is a must read for anyone interested in Canadian history and I love her sarcasm.
  • Things I’m Fonds Of by Emily Lonie.  There’s a pun in the title – thus it has to be great! Seriously, though this is a wonderful blog that consistently highlights innovate archival practices and collaborative projects.
  • History@Work, a multi-authored blog on the National Council for Public History website.  History@Work covers a great mix of public history topics and has a lot of great discussion based posts around current interpretation of historical events.
  • Nursing Clio, another great multi-authored blog.  If you’re interested at all in gender or medicine this is the history blog for you.  This peer-reviewed blog offers timely historically grounded posts on present-day issues.  Their tag line is “the personal is historical” and many of their posts connect to person or community narratives of history.
  • Claire Kreuger’s blog pulls directly from her thesis work.  I’m in love with her alphabet series.  Some of her hard hitting posts tackle reconciliation, settler narratives, and how to be an ally.
  • Uncatalogued Museum by Linda Norris.  This is a blog I’ve been following for years and that I keep coming back to for it’s insightful takes on museum exhibits and content design.
  • Allana Mayer’s tumblr account for her takes on archives, tech and labour.  Allana has also posted a number of great summary posts which compile resources on specific topics – her “Resources on Archives and Indigenous issues” post from 2016 is still a great source for information. I’d also suggest following Allana on Twitter.

What are your favourite archives and public history blogs? 

Reading: Unwritten Histories

oldbookA few months ago I stumbled across Andrea Eidinger’s Unwritten Histories blog.  If you haven’t already come across her site it’s well worth a visit.  I’ve particularly enjoyed her Historian’s Toolkit posts and her “What’s in My Bag?” series which uses material culture as a lens to examine the past.

Andrea has been wonderfully consistent in posting new content and typically maintains a schedule of a new blog post on Tuesday and a Canadian history roundup post on Sunday which highlights other Canadian history content online.

I commend anyone who is able to maintain that type of schedule for numerous months and still come out with interesting and insightful content.  I also love the name of her blog and the implications of exposing histories and parts of historical practice that are not commonly discussed.

Eight Years of Blogging

Startup Stock PhotosI started blogging back in September 2008 as part of a course requirement for a digital history class I took as part of my MA in Public History.  Looking back I have a hard time believing I’ve kept up with the practice for eight years.  There have been the occasional lulls in my writing but I seem to always return to the keyboard.

Eight years of blogging and over 530 posts later, writing in the public sphere is still an essential part of my professional practice.  This informal writing practice has benefited me by connecting me with other professionals, helped me work through ideas in a space that can allow for collaboration, and opened doors to other opportunities. It is also flexible enough that I can adapt my writing style and topics based on interest, time commitment, and professional interests.

Is it worth the effort?  I can point to definite projects that have developed out of my online presence (on twitter and through blogging) and there are people I have connected with virtually who have become valued colleagues and friends. So, yes. I think it’s a practice worth maintaining and one I plan on continuing with for the foreseeable future.

Back Writing

As some of you might of noticed my posts have been somewhat infrequently recently.  This was mostly due to hosting problems and very poor customer service from the hosting provider that this website used to be on.  After a lot of frustration my partner moved all of our websites to a new provider and set up all of our sites again.

This experience highlighted two things: 1) the importance of backing up your websites.  There was a horrible couple of days where we weren’t sure we were going to be back to get our databases out of the old provider. 2) How integrated blogging is to my writing and thinking process.  I really missed being able to write off-the-cuff posts and to work through ideas I was considering when my site was down.

Thankfully things are up and running again.  Expect lots of posts in the coming days as I work through a list of ideas and cleanup half written posts that wrote during the hiatus.

Onwards and Upwards

In 2008 I started blogging at Historical Reminiscents.  The original impetus for beginning that blog was an assignment as part of a digital history class.  The blog was much longer lasting than the class and has featured over 400 posts since 2008.

This past weekend I imported all those old posts, had a domain registered (hurray for both kristamccracken.ca and kristamccracken.com being available), and installed WordPress on this new site.  It feels a bit like the end of an era.  But I’m going to continue to blog. All that’s really changed is the web address.

Historical Reminicents: 400 Posts Later

This is the 400th post I’ve written on Historical Reminiscents since I started this blog back in September 2008.  I began this blog for a digital history class I was taking as part of Western University’s Public History MA program.  I had no idea that the blog would be so long lasting or prolific.

Over the years I’ve been asked numerous times what I get out of blogging here and at Activehistory.ca.  Some of the top reasons I’ve continued to blog are: the blog format allows less formal writing that traditional academic scholarship, blogging combined with other social media has connected me to colleagues that I otherwise would have no interaction with, and lastly (and perhaps most importantly) I enjoy it.

Looking back here are some of the most read posts from the last six years:

Active History Celebrating Three Years

Head on over to ActiveHistory.ca to check out a great summary by Jim Clifford on the past three years of the Active History site.  It’s hard to believe that it was four years ago, in 2008 when I traveled to York University for the Active History symposium.  Since the symposium and the development of the Active History site, a wide range of conceptions of active history have been shared via Active History. 

I’m constantly being exposed to new ideas and types of history via the group blog. I’ve went from admiring the site from afar to being fortunate enough to contribute to the site as a blogger and currently as a member of the editorial collective. It has been great to see the Active History website develop, grow, and begin to thrive.  I sincerely hope that things continue as positively in the future!

Looking Back: 201 Posts Later

Credit: kusito

I started the Historical Reminiscents blog in September 2008.  The blog was initially started as part of a Digital History course I was taking during my MA in Public History at UWO.  Since then I’ve graduated, and held a number of positions including: historical researcher, collections assistant, a digitization facilitator, and archives technician.  Yesterday also marked my 200th post on this blog.

In the spirit of reminiscing, here are some of the most read and some of my favourite posts from the past:

2008
-A post on Web Activism and the multiplicity of options (and consequences) in a digital world.

2009
-A readings inspired post on, How to Forge Public History from the Land
-The Intersection of Art and Technology which looks at the work of Dr Maurizio Seracin

2010 
-Looking at the independent digital composure of music in Emily Howell: A Digital Composer 
-The importance of Historical Societies and Community Heritage

2011
Heritage Preservation and Adaptive Reuse: Evergreen Brick Works
– As part of the Natural Heritage blog post series, a post on Point Pelee
Oral History and the Act of Listening

Ontario Heritage Conference: Creating a Heitage Blog

Kayla Jonas of the Adventures in Heritage blog recently presented at the Ontario Heritage Conference. The topic of her session was “Using Websites to Communicate Your Message”.  Kayla’s presentation focused on the use of blogs within the heritage field.  Her presentation used this blog and History to the People as examples of personal heritage blogs.  The complete presentation can be seen here.

Public History Writing

The #reverb10 prompt for December 2nd is focused on writing, specifically: What do you do each day that doesn’t contribute to your writing — and can you eliminate it?

I do an innumerable amount of things that don’t contribute to my writing about public history. Procrastination, perfectionism, and over analyzing things to name a few. On a more concrete level I think that my use of twitter has actually caused my blog writing to decline a bit. I often post things or link to articles on twitter that are definitely worthy of a blog post.

Tweeting about public history is a quick easy way to get a idea out there with minimal effort. A blog post takes more thought, time, and dedication. However, twitter allows me to interact with parts of the heritage and cultural community which I may never interact with otherwise. It’s a different type of promotion, communication, and environment. I think it compliments blogging, I just need to remind myself that it’s nice to form ideas longer than 140 characters.