Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Medieval History gets controversial

The number and range of lively medieval history blogs often surprises me. Now Cliopatria calls our attention to a dispute among medievalists as to the blogging ethics of some enterprising students who have turned their scholarly interest into a large (and ad-subsidized) medieval history newsblog, allegedly by reposting the work of others without attribution or linkage. The comments and responses are fascinating, with vigorous justification by the bloggers concerned and much prevarication about whether "academic" or "journalistic" standards and ethics should prevail in history blogging.

In the comments, Medieval News's principals defend their practices, but a look at their site suggests merit in the criticisms they face. Obvious linking opportunities are conspicuously absent in nearly every post. Here for instance is their report on a medieval symposium at Brock University next Friday. Useful -- but it lacks this easily available link to Brock's own announcement and contact info, which I found in a couple of minutes and which anyone interested in attending would want to have.

Linking isn't mandatory, I'd say, but credit and acknowledgment generally are. In any case, linking, as the unique characteristic that distinguishing blogging from most other media, ought to be seized not as an obligation but as an opportunity.
Follow @CmedMoore