Monday, August 6, 2007

Final Blog

Over the course of this blog assignment, I've developed a respect for those who blog and those who do it well. Most of the blogs I had previously encountered were discovered via a Google search of some topic and I never put much thought into their creators, the blogrolls, or the motivation behind them.

I liked all of the blogs that I've discovered for their own reasons. Almost all of them provided blogrolls which, as I mentioned, I had pretty much ignored in the past. These links to other sites provided many resources for the topic of Public History. While they often had several blogs in common, I didn't feel this group offered up the same few links. They each had several blogs that were unique to their blogroll.

I appreciated what Public Historian: Public History on a Budget had to offer. The blog was updated on a regular basis which, through this assignment, I have come to realize is a difficult thing to do. Like with all of the blogs I reviewed, the information was provided for altruistic reasons. Its author had acquired a lot of useful information through her experience in the field, and the blog is her way of providing others access to this knowledge. Public Historian was also the first place that I encountered snap shots and I found theses 'previews' of the hyperlinks to be very useful.

The pastime of past time often provided criticism of current happenings in the Public History profession and I liked the way the blog often challenged what appears to be the standard way of thinking in the field. It also provided a different take on things as reported by the mainstream press. I think anyone who is interested in a particular subject, like I am with Public History, should be grateful for the alternative viewpoints that blogs like pastime have to offer.

Reading Archives pretty much stuck to the review of publications related to the topic of archives. It didn't offer much in the way of other archival blogs or websites, and that was a little disappointing, but it might be too much to expect for a blog that offers so much already. The fact that, as a web-based tool, it focused almost exclusively on an old-fashioned medium made it a pretty unique blog.

After looking closely at blogs for the first time, I am amazed at how much time people devote to blogging. Some bloggers may use them as a forum for expousing their views on a particular subject, from what I've seen, many use their blogs as a means to share their knowledge and expertice with others. I now appreciate the time that the authors of these Public History blogs have invested.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Blog Updates

Since my last look, The Attic has added several new posts. One discusses a recent Economist article about the boom in museums across China, and offers some criticism on the slant of the story.

Another, "Why Shouldn't Museums Be for Pure Pleasure," is similar to the topic of Bryan Adumchuk's recent post. The Victoria and Albert Museum in South Kensington, London has been criticized for its recent Kylie Minogue exhibition, which was considered too pop culturish by conservative museum professionals. Included is a link to a Times interview with the V&A Director, Mark Jones.

Next up: more archival blogs.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

As the blog assignment starts to wind down, I'll take quick look at a few blog updates. the pastime of past time has a very interesting post about the place of a historian in the movie and television industry. Bryan Andrachuk writes about the low opinion that many in his profession have of the History Channel and about the recent chat he had with its Director of Original Programming, Michael Kot. Kot believes, and Andrachuk agrees, that it's all about the story.

"Having a strong story will draw people in," writes Andrachuk. "If people are entertained, they'll keep watching. And maybe, just maybe, we can trick them into learning something. For me, all history (that is, the product of someone's work, not the past as it happened) is about is telling stories, anyway."

We've been talking a lot in class about media conglomerates and, coincidentally, Andrachuk discusses the purchase of Alliance Atlantis (broadcaster of 13 Canadian cable channels, including the History Channel) by CanWest Global Communication, one of Canada's largest international media companies. (He discussed it in a previous post, as well). Interestingly, the CBC story he links to includes an overview of who owns what in the Canadian media. Very enlightening!

Moving onto Reading Archives, Dr. Cox provides a review of Photography Theory, which includes a "compendium of views and attitudes about the nature of photography, representing a wide range of theoretical perspectives."

For tomorrow: an update from The Attic.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Museum Blogging: A Resource for Professionals

The mission of Museum Blogging is "to provide the best information on how museums and related institution...can use blogs and other online tools in support of outreach. In short, it's a blog about blogging.

Created by Leslie Madsen-Brooks, a consultant whose firm, TerraFirma Creative Group, designs websites and blogs for museums, Museum Blogging offers ideas on ways such institutions can best utilize the internet. One great example is her wonderful five-part series, "Percolations: Museums and Social Networking Sites," in which she discusses some of the advantages and drawbacks of using several well-known websites such as Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Madsen-Brooks offers examples of several institutions and their foray into this medium, including the Lower East Side Tenement Museum's MySpace page and the MoMA's Flickr project. She outlines in detail which sites offer the best features and tools for a particular demographic, often comparing and contrasting the sites to emphasize her point. The MySpace vs. Facebook debate found in Part II of the series includes a link to the interesting essay "Viewing American class divisions through Facebook and MySpace."

Museum Blogging offers links to many other museum and history sites, several of which can be found on the link lists of my previously-discussed blogs. The lists do not mirror each other, however, and I've discovered several great sources of information.

Monday, July 23, 2007

A Look at Archival Blogs

I'd like to start looking at some of the archival blogs, but first I'll do a quick review of some of the blogs I've discussed so far. Unfortunately, Public History and pastime haven't been updated since my initial posts. The Attic doesn't disappoint, however. They offer information on a few upcoming conferences, including "The Best in Heritage" the theme of which, "Reclaiming Cultural Property," will offer a forum for representatives of heritage organizations and experts to discuss the ways in which "illicit traffic of cultural property can be prevented and how a new understanding of universal cultural heritage may reshape the approach to questions of exclusive ownership." This is another example of the advocate role the authors of the blog have taken on.

Through his blog, Reading Archives, Richard J. Cox, a Professor in Library and Information Science at the University of Pittsburgh, offers "critical observations on the scholarly and popular literature analyzing the nature of archives or contributing to our understanding of archives in society." To the great benefit of anyone interested in archives, Dr. Cox posts on a regular basis. Somehow, in addition to his teaching responsibilities and the fourteen books and countless journal papers he's published in this area, Dr. Cox also manages to read and review many other books, often offering his critiques several times a week.

Reading Archives does not offer a linklist to any other blogs or websites (aside from Google News). Occasionally, Dr. Cox will provide, within a post, the link to a site he considers of interest, but it appears the main source of the information he discusses are old-fashioned published materials that are specific to the topic of archives.

I loved Reading Archives and now have a very long reading list that I look forward to conquering!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

The Attic: A Museum Studies Research Blog

After taking a second look at my chosen list of blogs, I've realized that several of them are not updated on a regular basis. Public History: digital history on a budget, which I discussed in the previous post, provided the links to several good sites, so I've added a few of them to my list.

The Attic is one blog from my original list that does stay pretty current. This is probably because, unlike others I've written about, this blog is a group effort, in this case, one by the Department of Museum Studies' research students at the University of Leicester. In addition, contributions from any student of museum studies are welcomed.

It's obvious from just a quick look that The Attic is for the academic community. Every other post is an announcement for a conference or symposium. I particularly liked their coverage of the university's Research Seminar Programme and the Museum Crawl, both which provide something the other blogs have not: lots of photographs! Like Bryan Andrachuk and Suzanne Fischer, the contributors are strong advocates for museums and public history and they try to rally support for various causes they find worthy.

For the most part, The Attic writes about and relies upon the information found on other museum or academic websites and blogs. Occasionally, they will discuss stories that are being covered by the mainstream media, like the BBC or The Guardian. In neither situation do I see much criticism or commentary on the sources themselves. The Attic has a few blogs in common with Public History, but most of them I've encountered here for the first time.

I hope to find the time to look over all of these great resources in greater depth.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Public History from the Field

Like Bryan Andrachuk, Suzanne Fischer focuses much of her blog on digital history. But instead of the musings by a student of the profession, Public History: digital history on a budget offers a glimpse into the day-to-day life of a public historian. Despite his recent internship at History Television, Andrachuk doesn't have much real world experience, so much of his blog focuses on many theories in the practice of public history.

Fischer works for the HCMC Museum, a small medical history museum, and her blog centers around the various projects in which she's involved. As much as I like to learn about Public History in an abstract way, I'd prefer to find out what the typical day in a museum is like, and Fischer provides many examples. She posts about what appears to be a typical donation in the life of a medical museum and discusses the software that many in her profession utilize.

The layout of Public History is pretty much the same as that of the pastime of past time. Neither blog includes much in the way of extra' such a videos or pictures. Fischer does provide a great index of categories, which makes finding posts on specific subject matter very easy. I also really like the snap shots she provided for the hyperlinks. The link list contains many Public History websites and blogs that I was not aware of and did not find on pastime.

Fischer updates her blog several times a month, sometimes several times a week, and I commend her for her dedication. In addition to her museum work, Fischer is finishing her PhD and contributes to another blog where she posts on her dissertation.