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Have you followed the discussion (kicked off by Adam Crymble) of ‘shock and awe’ graphics. I love this image, but I am not sure what it says beyond the text.

I think I would disagree with this a bit. It seems to me that blogs have evolved in response to a rapidly changing intellectual ecology, in which the funding bodies have played a big role. I also rather missed the counterpoint that we can read blogs as weigh-points in publishing (almost like an old style academic seminar). Indeed, this open peer review process seems just as fun and interesting; and as mentioned in a previous comment, the big area of blog expansion I see, is in the ego-blog world of trade publishing.

More generally, I think that you might want to do a bit more to intregrate that habermassian moment in to th early modern discussion. In some respects, Habermas is advocating a different kind of modernity, to the early modernity you delineate and provide a geneaology for.

In a sense, the point about ‘big data’ is that a lot of its advocates are happy to try and create a positivist, epochal narrative. I would want to cite directly the work of the ngram guys on issues such as the decline of irregular verbs – it is interestingly ahistorical.

Of course, an aside to this is the role of the funders in encouraging projects to create a ‘blog’. As far as I can tell, in the UK JISC and the AHRC have made this pretty much mandatory. While SSHRC in Canada and the office of digital humanities at the NEH also seem wildly keen on projects using blogs as both a management and publicity tool.

I wonder if you are missing the category of blog that irritates me most: self/book promoting history blogs. These are normally entirely engaged in discussions of how sexy/wierd/disgusting the past was. There are at least two or three for Georgian London alone.

I should probably update my blog practise! I am clearly and anti-social git.

This is great stuff, but it is a pretty sharp transition between the historiography of the early modern, and the blogosphere, and I wonder if you need to do more to plug the relationship between these two discussions.

It strikes me that blogs form an interesting sub-class of stuff, but that their evolution (and the use of computers in research and publication) has a pre-history. In the UK much of this was driven by the University expansion process post ’92, in which teaching with computers was supposed to solve the issues of expansion.

My reading of the British historiography of the last two decades is that it represents a conflict between an older German narrative of modernity and a British one, marked by the take up of Habermas following 1989. You are probably going somewhere in this direction later, but it seemed relevant here.

I have to admit to rather missing the blogosphere by this point, and wonder if a few pointers back to the present might be appropriate.

If you are going to cite an ngram, you probably need a footnote on methodologies and data collection. Irritatingly the Cesar iteration of the viewer is no longer available, but you might look at Bookworm as a more scholarly iteration of the same tool.

On the ‘long eighteenth century’ in an anglo-phone context I have always takent this to have come out of the 70s and 80s attempts to integrate Thompsonian Marxist social history with economic history in reaction against political narratives (most of the historians of the period in Britain in the 80s had never come across Braudel!

Phil’s discussion is very good on this.

Oddly, the bit I was uncertain about this characterisation. My own blogging experience has been that the balance between community and engagement I find on Twitter actively discourages me from using my blog as a ‘community’ platform.In other words, my feeling is that ‘linking’ and promoting links in Twitter actually draws out some of the ‘cutting and pasting’ activities that might otherwise be found in blogs. And as Brodie suggests in a previous comment, in that context the blogs become forms of publication.

However, more accuracy would cry for a refined network analysis which not many individuals (esp. historians) can handle themselves.

why are you showing only the links to the top four blogs, what does the image look like, if you show the links from the top four?

Again, I reach the same conclusion about my Holocaust blog sample!

Newton, … recent study and 2007?

Wow, this is very fascinating. My owh research on blogs about the Holocaust would confirm your statistical analysis.

RE: … and then the arrival …
(This) The rest of this paper…

RE: …cosmic look at Europe…

Exactly: I was about to contradict. In the German language the “new” frühe Neuzeit-Term is already beyond its climax, there is a lot of research being done and frühe Neuzeit is among the very few research areas which still offer employment!

‘portrayed a circles’ = ‘portrayed as circles’

I think in ‘The early modern, for Sharpe is …’ you mean ‘The early modern, for Burke, is…’

See also Phil Withington’s comments on this in _Society in Early Modern England_ (2010).

I’m not sure the sharp contrast between the ‘isolated’ scholar in the woodcut and the blogger (here and elsewhere in the article) is always true. I agree that few bloggers are ‘isolated’, but there are exceptions. Certainly some have influential blogs but who don’t go out of their way to link others (e.g. Tim Hitchcock). Also, I know a couple (including co-bloggers at the many-headed monster) who simply don’t read other blogs. For them, the blog is a publication/dissemination platform rather than a node in a network. I think that one of the nice things about ‘the blogosphere’ is that there is room in the ecosystem for those types as well.

    Well, yes. And the early modern world was not all John Aubrey or even Anthony a Wood. But that was the model that seemed reinforced by my network. Of course, the found network was skewed by the metric I chose. But, let’s put it another way. Blogs take advantage of a medium that is friendly to images, links, etc., as well as words. We are all in a hurry. What is the chance we re-purpose images again and again from one blog to another (Hitchcock or no?)? After all, my image came from the Folger, via Werner via Hooks. We are watching/using whether we state we “read blogs” or not. Anyway, that is the way I feel tonight.

Have you read the article by Axel Burns and Jean Burgess here? That might be a useful contribution for you on the methodological questeion. Else, I agree with Nick and the above mentioned authors, blogrolls are a bit tricky – maybe you need to at least add a paragraph discussing this.

    Do Burns and Burgess map something besides twitter (should I use twitter metrics to measure blogs?)? Poyntz is indeed correct. But besides my desire to use something I could understand and count quickly (Google Reader vs. WordPress vs. Blogger – it is difficult) and “hits” were not covered across the board either. So I confess that blogrolls was just a cheap metric that I could count the old-fashioned way. But the larger point, that they link and speak to each other, I think, stands regardless of the metric chosen.

    [whoops. This showed up under Nick's comment. Perhaps that is what it does.] Do Burns and Burgess map something besides twitter (should I use twitter metrics to measure blogs?)? Poyntz is indeed correct. But besides my desire to use something I could understand and count quickly (Google Reader vs. WordPress vs. Blogger – it is difficult) and “hits” were not covered across the board either. So I confess that blogrolls was just a cheap metric that I could count the old-fashioned way. But the larger point, that they link and speak to each other, I think, stands regardless of the metric chosen.

I was very conscious of this link when I started blogging – I chose the title Mercurius Politicus very deliberately because it was a popular newsbook of the period I was studying, and I saw blogs as an analogue to cheap print such as newsbooks and pamphlets. I was also making an implicit parallel in this post:

http://mercuriuspoliticus.wordpress.com/2009/03/17/the-great-game/

At least one reader got the parallel instantly (see the comments).

    Blogs are like anonymous, ephemerous pamphlet literature during 16th-18th centuries and were, of course, written for fun, profit and gloire.

      @Nick Poyntz
      Vehse (an unreliable german 19th historian) says that lese-majesty was, in England, punished by body mutilation, as late as 1714(Nathaniel Mist allegedly had the ear cut).
      But I couldn’t check this by a reliable source, and don’t really believe it.
      Maybe you know sth about this (or similar) cases?

Blogrolls are a tricky metric, I think. I used to maintain mine quite religiously, but as the field expanded it grew more and more laborious to keep it up to date. Around 2010 I dropped it altogether and instead used a feed from Google Reader to share blog posts (in the main early modern) I’d found interesting in the sidebar of my blog. Then Google stopped allowing for that functionality. The two points of that are:

- blogrolls aren’t these days a full measure of who is aware of/rates/approves of whom

- they are a time-bound phenomomen and with the increase in the number of blogs, and other means of vocalising interest via social media (not just sharing RSS feeds but also Twitter and Facebook for example) they have fallen away somewhat.

I don’t know if there is another way of measuring this? You might try using a link search in Google and comparing ratings “link: mercuriuspoliticus.wordpress.com”. Mine comes up with 232 results for example, and Sarah Werner’s with 122. This doesn’t help much with an early modern network analysis though because it will pull in links from other types of site.

The other thing I wondered about is number of interactions between sites. Back when I had a blogroll I tried to link to every early modern site I knew of and liked. But I commented on, or linked to specific posts, of some blogs much more than others. A network map based around strength of connection would be another way of doing this analysis, but I have a horrible feeling the only way to do it is a manual count of such links.

    OK. I am responding to both Nick and Eva it seems. Nick, the point of who comments on whom, whose blog posts related to others (yours on Gavin’s, etc.) would be great. But that needs a grant and an assistant I am afraid. I will try the link: thingie, however.

As one of said 26 bloggers: I was a postgrad student for the first two years of Mercurius Politicus’s life (2007 on), but was also (and still am) a civil servant. Not sure where that puts me in the list of professions!

    I think my emphasis on academia has to be tempered somewhat. (It is of course difficult to track down everyone quickly). But my age might be showing here when I emphasize the significance of bloggers connected in some way to the academy, whereas the expansion of the university makes that a slightly more common credential. It might stem, too, from my own sense that academics SHOULD take it more seriously. I will redo and rethink the proportions.

See also Durer’s woodcut Melancholia, which is used in Grafton, Anthony. “Loneliness and Freedom.” Perspectives on History (March 2011): 5-6, to show the lonely work of the historian.

This is a very provocative and insightful essay. I have a couple of comments that might help with your final draft. Since you employ Rostow’s “taking off” as a means to consider what scholars mean by the term “modern” it might be useful to provide a consideration of how world historians have grappled with the transition between traditional and modern societies. Such an analysis would help address a question left unaddressed by your essay; is the “interconnected world” something unique to bloggers on Early Modern issues or is it now a more commonplace trend. Lastly, I would suggest you look at the work of Atlantic historians on the role of bureaucracies in creating modern societies (I’m thinking of Kenneth Morgan and the recent work of USC’s Nathan Perl-Rosenthal).

This list (a moving target) is likely to be linked and not included in the print version

Thanks too to Charles Foy.

“Few posts consider broad periodization explicitly.”

and

Keith Livesey (not Livesay)

For most bloggers read most of my sample’s bloggers

For English read British, :)

delete especially in its 1958 edition

instead of Wynken de Worde, previously posted by Sarah Werner

This draft is not the latest, because we were having some troubles regarding extra-characters/formatting. It will be revised again before going to print. For now, some minor revisions are noted in my comments below

Newton Key: Crowdsourcing the Early Modern Blogosphere

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A recent blog posting in anchora uses an image from a 1559 translation of Orbis to show us “How to Read like a Renaissance Reader.” English professor and blogger Adam Hooks explains that the woodcut from a copy in the Folger Shakespeare Library Collections (previously in Wynken de Worde 10 December 2008) shows “[i]n the Renaissance, reading always demanded writing.” (Hooks 23 August 2012) By adding two observations to Hooks’ gloss, the print can also help us conceptualize the early modern, and relate the early modern blogosphere to the term’s historiography and the era itself.

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First, note the male reader/writer at his desk surrounded by books and manuscripts separates himself from the world outside his window, an image of solitary endeavor that became de riguer for the portrait of the great writer. Second, the character writes on one paper with scissors close at hand, while he fixes his eye elsewhere on an open book. The early modern production of knowledge, the woodcut implies, involved isolated men, copying and transcribing the work of others. The early modern history blogosphere challenges the first observation, while it conforms to the second. This article examines recent Anglophone blogs about the early modern world, with special attention to those of historians. It finds an interconnected world that challenges the stereotype of the historian as a great man secluded in his study. But this blogosphere follows the early modern process—what Dror Wahrman has called Print 2.0—of constant summarizing, cribbing, even cut-and-pasting from one source and one context into another. (Wahrman 2012)

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The early modern became ensconced in the Anglophone historiographical scene about 1970. Of course, the phrase “early modern” had long existed, sometimes to refer to the first age of humans, more often to refer to a stage in language development (early modern French, or early Modern English after Old English), more rarely to refer to several centuries, and for the latter, mainly in university curricula and mainly with regards to Europe or even England. (for example, Dawson 1888, p. 398; Edwards 1896, p. vii; The Cornell University Register 1869, p. 62). But a few works in the 1960s applied the term to a broad era after the Middle Ages and it graced numerous collections and texts from 1970. Where before one might name royal houses (the Tudor‑Stuart era) or use dates of major wars and treaties (Europe before 1648), from the 1960s one increasingly turned to “early modern” to signify variously 1300‑1700 or 1500‑1800. Two nGrams show the phrase’s dramatic rise as a term in British and American texts since the 1960s (http://tinyurl.com/8to62hf; http://tinyurl.com/9ks9cbc). (Randolph Starn 2002, discovers slightly different progenitors than I do; but we both agree to the sea change in usage circa 1970).

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Outside the Anglophone world, the early modern has been much less eagerly embraced. As Starn shows, German-language academics remain suspicious of frühe Neuzeit, while the French- (and Spanish-) language ones remain committed to histoire moderne as a broad designation, and the ancien régime society of the earlier part of that broad periodization. Again, using Google books Ngram Viewer (http://tinyurl.com/9dhkk9d; http://tinyurl.com/9nm9z8c) suggests that frühe Neuzeit has become increasingly used in the 1990s and 2000s (although still explained as if a novelty, and, confusingly, neuere Geschichte can also refer to the era from the 16th century onwards), while début des temps modernes has seen a steady increase in use since the 1880s (although the latter mainly refers to the point at the end of the Middle Ages and the beginning of the early modern). Overall, historians tend to group their specialties by century (Revue Dix-Huitième Siècle), and the Anglophone world sometimes stretches that to incorporate the long sixteenth century, or the long eighteenth century (a phraseology which owes more to the Braudelian longue durée).

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The underlying reasons for this change are many, but I would point especially to the triumph of Marxian, Weberian, and especially Tönniesian social theories. Karl Marx’s stadial analysis readily explains the focus on early modern Europe and England, if not the terminology. (Rollison 2005) In the 1950s, Paul Sweezy, Maurice Dobb, and others began a debate in the journal Science Society that was collected and several times reprinted as The Transition from Feudalism to Capitalism (1976, etc.). This transition, from the Medieval to the Modern, emphasized the trajectory or pathway towards what E.P. Thompson labels “the Great Arch”: the bourgeois, capitalist, state-society, fully in place by the fourth decade of the 19th century. This narrative focused on material changes and changes in social relations between the mid-14th and mid-19th centuries. (Sweezy et. al. 1976; Corrigan and Sayer 1985) In 1974, Perry Anderson even apologized for focusing on the state and ignoring the triumph of capitalism as the story of “the early modern epoch,” only to announce that he would, of course, take up that very trajectory in another volume. (Anderson 1974, p. 10) Other works of the 1960s and 1970s employing the term include textbooks (Rowen 1960; Rule 1966; etc.) and slightly more theory-laden essay collections (Zemon Davis 1975; Forster and Greene 1970; etc.). Moreover, Marxian historiography provoked an even more influential “Non‑Communist Manifesto,” from economist W.W. Rostow, published in final form in 1960. Rostow became the doyen of modernization, and he and his followers sought the transition or “take-off” “stage” between traditional and modern societies and economies in an era which would soon be labeled the early modern. (Rostow 1960) The Weberian influence was less overt, but Talcott Parsons’ 1930 translation of The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (1904-5, 1920) had an impact beyond the corridors of American sociology departments (especially in its 1958 edition), and was soon sparking study of aspects of an early modern Weltanschauung. (Weber 1958; Tawney 1926; Nelson 1969) By the 1970s, Lawrence Stone and others were heeding the call for tracing the collective mentality of bureaucrats beyond their respective institutions in order to understand “the first modern society.” (Stone 1971; Beier Cannadine and Rosenheim 1989) Finally, although Ferdinand Tönnies’ first published his distinction between Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft in 1887, it was not translated into English until 1940, and only after a new translation and edition was published in 1957 did it become de rigeur. In any case, it became central to university sociology in the 1960s. (Tönnies 1940, 1957; Nisbet 1966, p. 75; etc.) And it influenced historians most dramatically and influentially through Keith Thomas’s magisterial Religion and Decline of Magic (1971), which sought “knowledge of the mental climate of early modern England,” and its relation to “the material environment more generally.” (Thomas 1971, p. ix) This project deployed less a Marxian and more a Tönniesian framework; even though Thomas’s analysis of “decline” shifted from Tönnies’ synchronic consideration of “community” and “society” to a diachronic story of one succeeding the other. Editors of a recent collection note how Thomas and other major British historians follow “a tendency among early modern social historians to regard the period 1450 to 1750 as England’s transition from one type of social organisation (Gemeinschaft) to the other (Gesellschaft).” (Shepard and Withington 2001, pp. 4-5)

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Related to the triumph of Marxian, Weberian, or Tönniesian theory was the emergent hegemony of social and cultural history (in which battles and dynastic shifts no longer were key markers). In 1976, Douglass North and Robert Thomas began discussion of “the early modern period,” by bemoaning the readiness by which historians “widely recognized” 1500 “as the watershed between the medieval world and the modern world,” but who blithely also wore “a fashionable tendency to spurn generalizations,” and rarely offer “a systematically cosmic look atEurope during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.” (1976, p. 102) That is, theory gave way to rote periodization.

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Let us examine the extent to which North’s and Thomas’s jeremiad is true for major works on the early modern in the decades since they made that observation. Peter Burke’s Popular Culture in Early Modern Europe notes that historians consider from about 1500 to about 1800, “the ‘early modern’ period, even when they deny its modernity.” The “even” might imply that Burke will emphasize the pull both of continuity and of change, of both the vestigial and the incipient. But his prose suggests a relentless Whiggish underlying trajectory of “major economic, social and political changes of the period,” that “had their consequences for culture.” The early modern, for Sharpe is the end-game of the pre-industrial: “[t]he book ends in the late eighteenth century because of the enormous cultural changes set in motion by industrialisation.” (1978, pp. xii-xiii, 244) A decade later, James Sharpe denies his social history textbook title, Early Modern England, signifies anything more than “the decision to write over the period between the mid sixteenth and mid eighteenth centuries.” Certainly his chapters delve into the specific demographic, social, and cultural issues, with little overarching theoretical framing. But a breezy initial political narrative of the first half of the chosen early modern period ends by proclaiming: “England was changing from a dynamic and unstable situation to an inherently stable one: the days of shaking were at an end.” (1987, pp. ix, 31) That is, Sharpe argues that the mid-early modern, the mid-seventeenth century, witnessed both a political and a social shift. The revolutionary transition to modernity remains a key component of Sharpe’s story. By 1999, Euan Cameron is more suspicious of change: “Early modern” is “a quite artificial term,” one “born of hindsight.” Cameron warn us not to assume Athat European culture was travelling towards something called ‘modernity,’” in the period “between the end of the Middles Ages and the start of the nineteenth century.” Yet, even his framework assumes an arc, a trajectory, during the period: “[a] consumer economy, a free exchange of ideas, toleration, and the rational, unitary state were beginning to emerge: it is in this sense that the centuries between 1500 and 1800 formed the ‘early modern’ period of Europe’s history.” (Cameron 1999, pp. xvii, xix) If 1500-1800 was Europe’s early modern, the “early modern” evidently should be dated differently elsewhere; the early modern, then, becomes a stage that all regions go through, not a specific era. As such, this usage is not much different than Rostow’s periodizing of the “take-off” into sustained self-growth.

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In the last decade Merry E. Wiesner-Hanks points to the, well, early modern antecedents of the term. In Early Modern Europe, 1450-1789 she notes how historians are simply refining the old Renaissance tripartite schema of antiquity, Middle Ages, and modernity, by splitting the latter in two, and emphasizing that the Europe of Columbus was more likely to carry on Medieval ways of thinking and acting as anticipating modern ones. Wiesner-Hanks reflects recent trends in historiography by questioning or at least claiming to de-privilege modernity itself. She perhaps muddies others’ clear trajectory by aiming both to add “peasants workers, women, and various types of minority groups” to the story, as well as to expand the geographic scope to include both a larger Europe (expanding to the East and South) and one “more connected to the rest of the world.” Her aims perhaps question the “great divergence,” supposedly centered on industry, centralized nation-states, and the expansion of rights and toleration. But the term and the period, signifying the relation between the past and the present, between continuity and change, continue to lure. Even while Wiesner-Hanks ends her study by noting “the centuries coveredwere not just a prelude to modernity,” her phrasing admits that they were at least that. (2006, pp. 4-5, 477, my emphasis)

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Both the attraction and the tensions of the early modern can be seen in the recent proliferation of early modern blogs. In the last few decades historical research and writing changed dramatically by first the spread of the personal computer in the 1980s, and then arrival of the Web and later search engines in the 1990s. Historians, who used their Apple, Kaypro, or IBM AT as a tool to write and store/organized large amounts of personal research in the 1980s, became networked and linked first to discussion and then to research databases in the 1990s. By the end of the 1990s, blogs or ezines had been created to provide commentary on the expanding world of online communication. And, by 2004, blogging had gone mainstream, and historians had taken up the new form of communication. (Kovarik 2011) Early modern specialists in history, literature, art, and philosophy first reached each other through listservs and usenets, and, then, expanded into blogging. This rest of this paper plots the metes and bounds of these early modern blogs in general, and analyzes in detail the major blogs as defined by subject and cross-referencing. It notes changes over their brief history, before returning to the question of how blogging reflects or changes our concept of the early modern.

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What is an early modern history blog? At the time of writing, Sharon Howard’s Early Modern Commons, an aggregator for blogs covering 1500‑1800, lists some 220 active blogs, of which early modern is part of the blog title for over twenty (including my own earlymodernengland). I sampled these blogs first by simply searching for blogs with “early modern” in the title or subtitle, and then adding to the list those that are referenced elsewhere. I separated out (based on links from other blogs and subject) the main blogs, from blogs mainly about the early modern, blogs occasionally about early modern, semi-blogs, and moribund blogs. As I discovered more blogs and noted their respective blogrolls (lists of other blogs regularly consulted), demoted some blogs and promoted others into the “main” category. Ultimately, I selected over fifty active early modern blogs (twenty main blogs, and thirty others, only a couple of which were not also listed on Howard’s master blogroll). While this selection process is somewhat idiosyncratic (my own interests in English history predominate), it provides a reasonable cross-section of the main trends. Besides Early Modern Commons, there are two other meta-sites for early modern blogging. The Broadside tracks and aggregates the latest blogging and news about history shared by historians using Twitter. And Carnivalesque, began in September 2004 as a carnival of early modernists, and now alternates monthly between ancient/medieval and early modern. (Blog carnivals are posts masquerading as online magazines whereby a blogger in the field is given editorship to select, describe, and link posts from other blogs for that month’s “issue.”) I examined but did not include blogs only occasionally about early modern subjects, moribund blogs (with no posts for the past year), or semi-blogs—peer-reviewed journals or online newsletters (listing calls for papers, etc., with no commentary) in blog-format, that is to say, reverse chronological posting with some sort of archiving of old posts—in the sample.

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So, what is the history of the early modern blog? From a sample of fifty blogs, forty percent (20) were formed and began posting in the last two years, 2011-2012. Eighty percent (40) have been founded since 2007; while only eight percent (4) began 2004 and earlier, although Lara E. Eakins has been blogging at TudorHistory.org or its forerunners since 1997.

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1997, 2001 2004 4
2006 6
2007 6
2008 7
2009 4
2010 3
2011 11
2012 9
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Blogging about the early modern world, then, is a very recent phenomenon.

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We can categorize early modern bloggers in terms of their residence, gender, and academic affiliation (employment). Anglophone blogging is largely centered in the United Kingdom. Of those early modern bloggers in my sample whose affiliation or location can be easily identified, roughly two-thirds (20) live in the UK. The rest (11) live in the USA, except for a couple in Australia and one who may reside in Russia. Further research and contact might expand this geography of early modern blogging, but I presume that the general distribution is correct. Also, bloggers do not always name themselves. But, blogs which list the creator or maintainer split evenly between male and female. That is, if we assign gender based on the preponderance of men or women listed for those blogs with multiple authors, we find 21 blogs maintained largely by men, and 17 by women. One might speculate as to gendered difference in reasons for blogging and for subjects covered. But certainly the early modern history blogosphere allows us to agree with a recent study of all British bloggers that “women bloggers are alive and well.” (Pedersen and Macafee 2007) And most bloggers, perhaps surprisingly, have some sort of academic affiliation. Twenty-six individuals are closely associated with the top twenty early modern blogs. Of these, eight are English lecturers/professors, seven history readers/professors, four administrators of libraries, laboratories, student development, or digital projects, two independent researchers (and two others just completed history PhDs.), one self-employed writer, one possible undergraduate, and one employed well outside academia. Almost 75% are employed currently in some way by universities. Very few are still students, although many blogs are begun in graduate school. Several bloggers have commented on the uneasy relation between blogging and the demands of paid teaching and research. Relentless time constraints have some bloggers moving towards the Haiku‑like compression of Twitter (used, for example, by Early Modern World and Wynken de Worde).

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One way to define this early modern blogosphere is to note who follows whom (most pages include a blogroll). If we examine which bloggers are watching which blogs, we see that the early modern blogosphere forms an interlinked group (who, of course, may well never have met each other or even know each other’s names). Again, using my sample of some 50 blogs and examining their blogrolls or list of blogs followed, I have compiled a list for each of active, early modern blogs followed. These blogrolls are only one measure of who follows whom. Some blogrolls are not updated regularly, and one might follow even subscribe to a blog through an RSS feed without putting it on one’s blogroll. One might a different ranking based on “hits” or “followers”: the military history blog Anno Domini 1672 has 72 followers, the 17th-century historical fiction blog Hoydens Firebrands has 112. And several with Facebook pages have several hundred “likes.” But not all blogs allow or share lists of followers. And blogroll linkage is arguably related to hits, and the result does help us understand a loosely bounded network. The following table ranks blogs by the number of times that they appear in the list or blogroll of other early modern blogs. Again, this does not indicate all of the blogs followed or occasionally examined, and the top blogs on this list do not link to other blogs. But it suggests that this group is aware of others in the field, and it corroborates somewhat that this is a field although loosely bounded.

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  1. Mercurius Politicus 16 links back (# of early modern blogrolls noting site)
  2. Wynken de Worde 15 links
  3. Early Modern Notes 10 links
  4. Early Modern Whale 9 links
  5. Early Modern Commons 8 links
  6. Renaissance Lit 8 links
  7. A Cuppe of Newes 7 links
  8. Early Modern Intelligencer 7 links
  9. Collation 6 links
  10. Early Modern Online Bibliography 5 links
  11. Early Modern Post 5 links
  12. Edward Vallance 5 links
  13. Carnivalesque 4 links
  14. Early Modern World 4 links
  15. Everything Early Modern Women 4 links
  16. Gilbert Mabbott 4 links
  17. Investigations of a Dog 4 links
  18. anchora 3 links
  19. earlymodernengland 3 links
  20. Early Modern News Networks 3 links
  21. Georgian London 3 links
  22. LOL Manuscripts! 3 links
  23. A Trumpet of Sedition 3 links
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Another way of thinking about this group as a network is to present it spatially. But to portray all of the links between the blogs would be a messy image of overlapping connections. Instead, I have opted for an image of which blogs link in their blogrolls to the top four blogs. Blogs are portrayed a circles whose size very roughly corresponds to the number of times they are linked back, and whose spacing is even more roughly related to their centrality to the network and their subject (with those more historically-centered on the lower left, and those more focused on literature to upper the right).

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This draft image is not completely accurate (Early Modern Notes should overlap Early Modern Commons, as does Carnivalesque, because Sharon Howard manages all three), but it does show that the early modern blogosphere is more of a network, a product of social media to use the Web 2.0 terminology, and less of a creation of individuals working in isolation.

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Such social interactivity suggested by mapping the early modern blogs is also noted by Christopher Flynn, the creator of a new blog edition of Daniel Defoe’s Review (1704-1713) entry-by-entry. Flynn notes the similarities between the modern blogosphere and the “early bourgeois public sphere, as laid out by [Jürgen] Habermas.” Of course, “social” media, and the blogosphere, is not the same as “live people meeting in public places.” Even so, Flynn concludes “if anything resembling the kind of public sphere that existed in London’s coffee houses in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries is possible today, new media is the vehicle that makes it so.” (Flynn 2009, pp. 18-19)

22 1

Both early modern historians and literary critics blog in roughly equal numbers. And their interests overlap. The top-linked bloggers often post on aspects of the history of the book. Thus, Sarah Werner, who is also associate editor of Shakespeare Quarterly, notes that a main focus of her Wynken de Worde blog is “early modern book and culture,” and her recent post, “my syllabus is a quarto,” which includes a template for turning a word document into a foldable quarto sheet, has been well-referenced and commented upon by both professors of history and of English. (Werner 10 August 2012) And independent researcher Nick Poyntz, who began Mercurius Politicus while pursuing an MA in early modern history, often posts on London pamphleteers and recently posted on Grub Street newsmen just before the Civil Wars. (Poyntz 28 August 2012) Likewise Early Modern Post blogger, Elizabeth Williamson, began her blog as an outgrowth of PhD research on “the gathering, transmission and preservation of political information, news and intelligence.”

23 4

The combination of interests in both early modern print culture, and the emergent public sphere formed by news and correspondence can be seen most clearly in the Early Modern News Networks blog, a grant-funded blog, which seeks to be at the center of an academic network to discuss…: networks. In a recent post, Early Modern News Network project director Joad Raymond notes various visualization tools at the Mapping the Republic of Letters website—a network of early modern intellectuals that was “simultaneously an imagined community…, an information network, and a dynamic platform”— and this might also serve as a model of the post-modern early modern blogosphere. (Raymond 20 June 2012) A well-conceived, but currently less linked blog is Cultures of Knowledge: An Intellectual Geography of the Seventeenth-Century Republic of Letters, established in 2009 as another grant-funded blog and project seeking “to reconstruct the correspondence networks central to the revolutionary intellectual developments of the early modern period.” (see Feola 2012) Likewise, Birkbeck College English instructor Adam Smyth, might have been reflecting on his experience of blogging under the title Renaissance Lit, when he reviewed a book on the Stammbuch or album amicorum of 16th and 17th-century Europe. In the review “Social networking, early modern style,” Smyth notes that these friendship albums collected “likes,” copied images, and encouraging comments which both inscribed a transnational social network and created textual space, “wherein [the album originator] will see himself as in the Socratic mirror.” (Smyth 2012) The parallels of this early modern creation to the modern social media blogosphere should be obvious.

24 0

One exciting aspect of the early modern blogosphere is the sharing and discussion of research tools and databases. Two English literature professors created Early Modern Online Bibliography blog specifically to promote such discussion with regards to Early English Books Online (EEBO), Eighteenth Century Collections Online (ECCO), and other online databases. A recent posting about the British Newspaper Archive online, not only test-drove the problems and possibilities of this subscription database, the ensuing discussion pointed to other issues, work-arounds, and offered a citation or two. (Shevlin 6 July 2012) The bloggers at the many-headed monster note alternative uses which might be made of the huge Records of Early English Drama series (REED), and provide links where they can be downloaded legally. (Willis 14 August 2012). Jan Smith at Mistris Parliament has posted several descriptions and tests of various digital tools useful for early modern historians (mainly with regards to online catalogs and databases of early modern printed works). And Smyth at Renaissance Lit posted a call for papers, which seeks “contributions that go beyond describing the advantages and shortcomings of…EEBO, ECCO, and the ESTC [English Short Title Catalog] to contemplate how new forms of information produce new ways of thinking.” (Smyth 16 August 2012) Of course, these exciting new tools can require enough study that they become the goal instead of the means. Some of the most exciting early modern blogs have veered off into digital humanities and their posts strictly on the historical period have declined. (The Long Eighteenth; etc.)

25 2

How does the early modern blogosphere interpret the concept of early modern and the issue of broad periodization? Mainly in the breach. Certainly the definition of “early modernity,” varies from 1450-1700 (Making Publics website) to “From The Tudors To Victoria,” or 1485-1837 (Early Modern England blog). While they are quite willing to use the terms early modern, Renaissance, or long 18th century in their blog titles, few posts consider broad periodization. Only a blogger like Keith Livesay, whose blog repeatedly returns to Marxist historians, often overtly considers century long changes.(Livesay 17 July 2011). Jonathan Dresner’s excellent and long-running blog on Japanese, Chinese, and Korean history is one of the few to consider “epochal analogies” and the need for “a shorthand to talk about processes,” in a post on Renaissance Japan. (Dresner 21/3/2005) One might consider that the pointillist tendency of blog post format works best when discussing discussing the materiality of the past. For example, a post at Earlymodernjohn discusses a trilingual Irish Primer present to Elizabeth I. The image from the c. 1560s primer—with Iryshe on the left, Latten in the middle, and Englishe on the right—makes the use and understanding of this document much more immediate. Yet Michael Witmore’s blog Wine Dark Sea, which tends to focus on “the statistical analysis of linguistic features in early modern literary texts,” and “the value of counting things,” brings us back to the sweeping consideration of epochal shifts in a recent post on a meeting in 2010, when vizualizations based on “categorizing all books from 1600 to 2010 according to Library of Congress subject headings,” was shown to “humanities scholars and advocates.” The answer to the question “What do people read during a revolution?,” based on the years before 1642, 1776, and 1789, appears to be “Old World History.” (Witmore and Valenza 11 July 2012) Tim Hitchcock takes on the “headache of big data” which has come to the early modern historian, in part by the millions of words and images now available to the research and blogger. Hitchcock himself has helped bring to our desk and laptops the trial accounts of Old Bailey Proceedings, the prosopographical microhistory possible with London Lives, and the minute geo-referenced comparisons possible with Locating London’s Past. But, as he notes, mastering this material can overwhelm; and positivist impetus can lay competing theories a bit shopworn. (Hitchcock 30 January 2012) Moreover, unlike the academy’s careful delineation between undergraduate apprentices, graduate journeymen, and the masters of the professoriate, the blogosphere is a meritocracy based on specialist interests (“16th century guide to gossip, fashion, and scandal”; “Costume Stuff from the English Civil War”), which is apt to find an image more arresting than big data or epochal analysis. In any case, while blog posts might seem to favor the worm’s eye rather than the bird’s eye, the format—which encourages the hyperlinking/comparison of text and context, with images and even video—remains open to both.

26 1

Let’s return to the initial image and note the importance of copying, adding to, others, and to networking and following others in the early modern blogosphere. This brief examination of this group of academics and novice historians and curators of things early modern suggests that this collaborative Web 2.0 arena has been especially successful in contributing to the analysis of what Dror Wahrman has labeled Print 2.0, the era of the late 17th and early 18th centuries in which cheap pamphlets and newspapers made publishing current (especially between the first corantos of the 1620s and the first daily newspaper, The Daily Courant, from 1702) and disposable. Moreover, as the history of our original image from online collection to one blog and then another suggests, blogs quickly copy ideas and images. But, rather than just tweeting the original article or image as modern-day news criers, the blogs often import the ideas from one context to another. Therein lies the potential. Perhaps the earlier historical culture which highlighted the lone researcher could best focus on the canon of a limited set of works by a limited number of authors or on the set number of national archives (Rankean focus on limited diplomatic exchanges). The emergent historical culture has turned to a vast network of online archives. And, perhaps, the challenges of the headache of big data have spawned experiments in individual attempts at crowdsourcing the answers.

27 1

The author would like to thank Sace Elder, David Smith, and early modern bloggers for their assistance in this paper.

28 1

Blog sites (* = 50-site sample)

29 0

Airs, Waters, Places: The seventeenth-century environment [http://airswatersplaces.wordpress.com/].*

30 0

anchora: The history and future of early modern books and their readers [http://www.adamghooks.net/].*

31 0

Anno Domini 1672 [http://rampjaar.blogspot.com/].

32 0

Brian Sandberg: Historical Perspectives Resources for Historical Thinking mainly early modern [https://briansandberg.wordpress.com/].*

33 0

Boston 1775: History, analysis, and unabashed gossip about the start of the American Revolution in Massachusetts [http://boston1775.blogspot.com/].*

34 0

The Broadside: freshest advices, foreign and domestic [http://thebroadside.org/].

35 0

Carnivalesque: A Carnival of Early Modernists [http://carnivalesque.org/].*

36 0

Collation: a gathering of scholarship from the Folger Shakespeare Library [http://collation.folger.edu/].*

37 0

Conversion Narratives in Early Modern Europe: The blog for the AHRC funded project [http://europeanconversionnarratives.wordpress.com/].*

38 0

Cultures of Knowledge: An Intellectual Geography of the Seventeenth-Century Republic of Letters [http://cofk.history.ox.ac.uk/office-of-addresse/].*

39 0

A Cuppe of Newes: Early Modern Studies at Exeter, around the Southwest, and beyond [http://earlymodern.wordpress.com/].*

40 0

Defoe’s Review: an interactive version of one of the earliest English periodicals, 1704-1713 [http://www.defoereview.org/].

41 0

The Diary of Samuel Pepys [http://www.pepysdiary.com/].*

42 0

Digitalhumanistbeginner: Explorations of the eighteenth century [http://digitalhumanistbeginner.wordpress.com/].*

43 0

dispositio: arguments about early modern things, and sometimes about politics [http://www.dispositio.net/].

44 0

Early Modern at Otago: Exploring the Practical speculative divide in early modern thought [http://blogs.otago.ac.nz/emo/].*

45 0

The Early Modern Blog [http://blogs.reading.ac.uk/emrc].*

46 0

Early Modern Commons [http://commons.earlymodernweb.org/].*

47 0

Early Modern Dialogues: An Exploration of Debate, Democracy and Digitisation [http://earlymoderndialogues.wordpress.com/].*

48 0

Earlymodernengland: The world the English (and Welsh, Scots, Irish) created between the mid 15th and the mid 18th centuries [http://earlymodernengland.blogspot.com/].*

49 0

Early Modern History [http://earlymodernhistory1.blogspot.com/].*

50 0

The Early Modern Intelligencer: of the Birkbeck Early Modern Society [http://www.emintelligencer.org.uk/].*

52 0

Early Modern News: CFPs, conferences, events, jobs, etc [http://earlymodernnews.wordpress.com/].*

53 0

Early Modern News Networks: A blog featuring news, events and reports from the research project News Networks in Early Modern Europe [http://earlymodernnewsnetworks.wordpress.com/].*

54 0

Early Modern Notes: early modern crime, women, digital history [http://earlymodernnotes.wordpress.com/].*

55 0

Early Modern Online Bibliography: EEBO, ECCO, and Burney Collection Online [http://earlymodernonlinebib.wordpress.com/].*

56 0

Early Modern Post: Blogging on the early modern, with special attention to letters and the post, information and intelligence gathering, diplomacy and politics [http://earlymodernpost.wordpress.com/].*

57 0

Early Modern Thought Online (EMTO) [http://emto.tumblr.com/].*

58 0

Early Modern Whale [http://roy25booth.blogspot.com/].*

59 0

The Early Modern World [http://www.earlymodernwomen.blogspot.com/].*

60 0

Edward Vallance: A.K.A. Ted Vallance [http://edwardvallance.wordpress.com/].*

61 0

18thCenturyHistory.com [http://18thcenturyhistory.com/].*

62 0

EM Spanish History Notes: Updates on recent scholarship in early modern Spanish history [http://emspanishhistorynotes.wordpress.com/].*

63 0

Everything Early Modern Women: all things to do with the study of early modern women [http://jcmurphy.wordpress.com/].*

64 0

The Georgian Bawdyhouse: Being an Exploration of Crime, Disorder Lewdness in the Long Eighteenth Century [http://georgianbawdyhouse.wordpress.com/].*

65 0

Georgian London [http://www.georgianlondon.com/].*

68 0

Hoydens Firebrands: Roaring Ladies Who Write About The Seventeenth Century [http://hoydensandfirebrands.blogspot.com/].

69 0

Investigations of a Dog: Failing better at history [http://www.investigationsofadog.co.uk].*

70 0

The Long Eighteenth: For anyone interested in the long 18th century [http://long18th.wordpress.com/].

71 0

Loyalty Binds Me [http://www.loyaltybindsme.org/].*

72 0

the many headed monster: the history of the unruly sort of clowns and other early modern peculiarities [http://manyheadedmonster.wordpress.com/].*

73 0

Mercurius Politicus: a Blog about early modern books, history, and culture [http://mercuriuspoliticus.wordpress.com/].*

74 0

Mistris Parliament: The British Civil Wars and Interregnum [http://mistrisparliament.wordpress.com/].*

75 0

Rag Linen [http://raglinen.com/blog/].*

76 0

Renaissance Lit: Happenings and cavorts in the early modern world [http://earlymodern-lit.blogspot.com/].*

77 0

The Renaissance Mathematicus [http://thonyc.wordpress.com/].*

78 0

Sellswords, mercenaries and condottieri [http://sellsword.wordpress.com/].*

79 0

Sixteenth Century Scholars [http://sixteenthcenturyscholars.blogspot.com/].*

80 0

Skulking in Holes and Corners: Genteelly Observing the Enemy since 2011 [http://jostwald.wordpress.com/].*

81 0

“A Trumpet of Sedition” [http://keith-perspective.blogspot.com/].*

82 0

TudorHistory.org Blog [http://tudorhistory.org/blog/].*

83 0

Wine Dark Sea [http://winedarksea.org/].*

84 0

Wynken de Worde: books, early modern culture, post modern readers [http://sarahwerner.net/blog/].*

85 0

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