UPDATE: **If there are still those who are critical of this post and my “agenda” in doing so, it’s not complicated. Look at my education in the “About Me” tab, at the top of this blog… a masters in history, and a masters in tech comm (with heavy emphasis on Web theory). This post was written from the perspective of a Web theorist. Check out these two sites where bloggers in other “spheres” bring up the exact same thing… here (The Science of Controversial Content) and here (Sixteen Bloggers Talk about Controversy).
Moving into the fifth year of blogging next year, I’ve engaged in both of the above, keeping my focus (primarily) on the American Civil War. In the past two years I think I’ve settled more into the content delivery part of the formula, albeit the content that I deliver can certainly agitate those who have a static/unbending vision of what the war was about, who was participating, and why they were participating. It’s just not the “in-your-face” variety.
It seems clear that controversy… specifically, stirring the pot, agitative, in-your-face controversy… draws numbers.
Content delivery, on the other hand, seems as if it might be more along the lines of the steady hum you hear in the background, made by electricity running through the wires. You know it’s there, but it doesn’t always draw a crowd. After all, that “steady hum” is much like what we find in many books about the Civil War. The question is asked… “what is original”? It’s history delivered, but it might not be engaging… stirring… enough for the general audience. Still, one shouldn’t be so quick to dismiss content delivery blogging so quickly.
Now understand… no, this isn’t an effort to gently pursuade folks to take more of an interest in content delivery blogs. Hardly. In fact, this post will hardly make a ripple in the pond, to be quite honest. Right or wrong, this is an observation; taking a pause to voice some thoughts.
The thing is… I’ve thought much in the last year about the longevity of posts, and I think content delivery posts trump controversy delivery in that arena.
Controversial posts make a big splash that may feel like tidal waves in the little arena in which they play out, but how far out does the ripple travel?
In a dozen years or so, maybe less, maybe more… if someone takes the time to analyze Civil War blogs of the early 2000s & 2010s, what will they see?
In content delivery, did those particular posts add content to the Web that was otherwise absent? Could any of them… some of them… be considered “tip of the spear” in breaking ground in our understanding of some aspect of history? Did those posts deliver content that could take folks deeper into a topic that was otherwise superficial, for the most part, on the Web? If the blog posts survived some major purge of old sites on the Web, as far forward as 2022 or later, does that content continue to be of value in understanding a particular aspect of the Civil War? Did some content delivery blogs do nothing but deliver the same old content that one would find in a book published ten or twenty years (or more) before the blog posts? Was content delivery, for some through their blogs, though repeating content that has long been out there, a means of a blogger to confront the history on a personal level?
On the other hand, considering controversial blog posts about the Civil War… what is its ability to reach into the future? Will folks be looking back at what was said… the exchanges… and analyze an upheaval of understanding in respect to the war? Will these sort of posts be more reflective of the time in which we, today, lived, and have little application to the time in which the blog posts are analyzed? Will the controversy say more about us (even on a personal level, depending on the manner in which posts or responses are made) or about the war?
I think there is a place for both types of blogging. Perhaps it’s best to see a little of the two types mixed together in the respective blogs. Yet, in blogs that seem to be more controversial, do we see much “giving” or are controversial type bloggers holding back more, perhaps to put something into a book, an article, or something along that nature… something that will be of benefit in another way… monetarily or to advance a person’s place among fellow Civil War historians?
Understand, this is not a criticism, but, in all seriousness… who among bloggers are asking these questions of themselves and the contents of their blogs? I’m just curious…
*I’m going to need to do a h/t to a couple of bloggers with whom I maintain regular contact, via email, for the inspiration behind the post. Yes, I have been thinking about it, but recent exchanges among us brings this post to the surface.