zenpundit.com » progressivehistorians

Archive for the ‘progressivehistorians’ Category

Review: Jeremy Young at Progressive Historians

Monday, October 6th, 2008

Jeremy Young, primus inter pares at Progressive Historians, posted up with compliments and constructive criticism in his review of  The John Boyd Roundtable :

Quick Thoughts on The John Boyd Roundtable

….First, let’s start with the obvious and most critical point: this book originated on a blog, more specifically as a blog roundtable. As such, the very fact that it’s made it into print is a significant leap forward for academic bloggers across boydbook.jpgthe net, and one we should cheer enthusiastically. Further, it’s clear from reading the book that the roundtable turned up considerable new insights….

….The only real problem I have with the book has to do with something that I think is only an issue because of the translation from blog to book. The John Boyd Roundtable is a book about another book by Frans Osinga, which is in turn a book about a military thinker, John Boyd. That’s a lot of moving parts to convey to a lay reader (which I most certainly am in the field of military history), and unlike on a blog, where you can simply link to Osinga’s book or to a Wikipedia profile of Boyd, all the connections need to be spelled out in the text itself. I didn’t get quite enough of this with regard to either Boyd or Osinga….

Read the rest here.

The Mark of ZOTERO

Friday, September 26th, 2008

Jeremy Young at Progressive Historians had a must read post on ZOTERO an emerging Web 2.0 tool for anyone out there doing academic research or analysis with even semi-serious intent:

Dan Cohen Lecture at IU

This afternoon, I was lucky enough to be able to attend a lecture by Dan Cohen, director of the Center for History and New Media at George Mason University. Since the untimely death of Roy Rosenzweig, Cohen has been the most recognizable face of the digital history revolution. He’s a real hero to history bloggers and digital historians alike.Cohen was an engaging speaker who mixed the infectious enthusiasm of a tech geek with the persuasive rhetoric of an entrepreneur — which is essentially what he is, only for the nonprofit tool Zotero, which he developed under Rosenzweig’s oversight. Much of the lecture was focused on Zotero and its emerging possibilities. Cohen informed us that Zotero was busily at work solving the historical problem of our time: the overabundance of data. Zotero is designed to sift through mountains of data and find things relevant to historians’ research interests. It’s now been translated into thirty-six languages, including Icelandic and Mongolian. Cohen said the latest developments include recommendation-sharing among historians and various forms of Web 2.0 social networking, including various plugins to Zotero that have been developed by programmers not affiliated with CHNM. Listening to Cohen go on about the endless possibilities felt like listening to Steve Wozniak in the days of the Apple ][ — incredibly cool, but not a little daunting.

Read the rest here.

Here is an intro video to Zotero. Comments from the techies in the readership are solicited:

Open Left favors an Open Internet

Saturday, July 12th, 2008

This may cause my friend Jeremy some dismay, but he gets a hat tip for this link:

Democrat Michael Capuano Tries to Stop Members of Congress from Using the Internet

Speaker Pelosi weighed in on the matter:

“We share the goal of modernizing the antiquated franking regulations to address the rapidly changing realities of communications in the internet age. Like many other Members, I have a blog, use YouTube, Flickr, Facebook, Digg, and other new media to communicate with constituents, and I believe they are vital tools toward increasing transparency and accountability.”

So Pelosi is good on this stuff, as she should be.  She has an exceptionally talented New Media staff who can do great work because there are no Franking Restrictions on leadership offices.  The right is largely correct on the substance of their claims, though they are making some partisan accusations that aren’t grounded in a real understanding the problem.  Soren Dayton at the Next Right asserts that Pelosi is violating the rules through her use of social media, because he didn’t know that leadership offices aren’t subjected to the rules.  What is actually going on is that Pelosi’s excellent use of blogging, YouTube, Flickr, Facebook, and Digg is unwittingly providing an extremely successful pilot for how members and committees can and should use the web to interact.

I had not realized that either and I thank Matt Stoller for the information in his post. If Speaker Nancy Pelosi uses her considerable authority to push through better, common sense, rules for the House to allow rank and file members to have the online presence that she has created, I’ll be more than happy to retract my previous remarks and apologize.

On Historians and Others

Monday, June 23rd, 2008

I have a new post up at Progressive Historians:

On Historians and Others….

….Historians are not theorists, though they may entertain certain theories in the course of interpreting an event they do not begin with answers as does a theorist but with questions. Questions they try to answer with research and evidence because history, while not a science, is an empirical discipline. Historians are not poets, they do not aim to create sweeping, romantic, myths, though like anyone else, historians admire mythic ideals but their task is to reveal where reality may have fallen short. Historians are not social scientists, though they sometimes borrow their tools; nor are they economists constructing abstract models hoping to predict events. A historian who tries to predict what will happen based upon the past is engaging in futurism, a very different and more difficult art.

….The public is not well prepared to handle or comment upon historical monographs of an esoteric or technical nature, only other specialists can do that. Nor are historians who have spent most of their career in a very rarefied subfield – say researching currency fluctuations in the Spanish Netherlands during the early modern period or Women’s social status in the Caribbean during the late Colonial era – well positioned to write a panoramic history of Western civilization, of the history of technology or similarly big picture subjects desired by the layman who wants to “read some history”. At least not without a major time investment.”

Read the rest here.

New Affiliations

Friday, May 16th, 2008

Aside from hosting Zenpundit, I have for some time been a member of the libertarian and conservative oriented group blog, Chicago Boyz, which has been and continues to be a very enjoyable and rewarding experience for me.  After careful consideration, I have accepted kind invitations to participate in two other, completely different, sites with sharper topical focus. They are:

Progressive Historians: The dynamic, Left of center ( occasionally way Left) history blog.  No, I’ve not made a sudden political conversion, instead I’ve been asked to join as sort of the” house conservative” in order to add a different point to view to the mix. In the words of PH founder, Jeremy Young:

Since Mark is openly politically conservative, this last choice requires some explanation. I want to make clear that the editorial stance of this site has not changed; we remain avowedly progressive and liberal and, if anything, my own personal political beliefs have become far more uniformly leftist than they were when I founded ProgressiveHistorians in September 2006. At the same time, I don’t believe the Internet should be viewed as a safe space where we’re shielded from others who disagree with our views. Back when he ran the now-defunct Tacitus.org, the conservative Josh Trevino featured an avowedly liberal poster named “Harley” on his front page, who interacted respectfully with all commenters and generally enriched the quality of the site. I’ve long been interested in doing the same sort of thing here at PH, and Mark is the perfect person to do it with — an eclectic and nontraditional conservative with real expertise in issues of great importance to America’s present predicament

Jeremy is very gracious in his praise; however, he’s definitely right that blogosphere could use a more frequent – and more civil – discourse between Left and Right than we’ve seen in recent years. No one gets any smarter from inhabiting an echo chamber, which is why I’ve always tried, despite my own right of center philosophy, to keep this blog open to all points of view and to reach out and build relationships with first rate bloggers of all kinds of political and disciplinary backgrounds. I’m also pleased to participate in an excellent site like Progressive Historians where the authors have such a widely varied set of historical research interests. I expect to challenge some assumptions there and be challenged in my turn, and learn some new things along the way.

Now for the second:

Complex Terrain Laboratory: This is a British site dedicated to the emerging field of human terrain mapping and more generally, a consilient approach to analysis and problem solving:

The Complex Terrain Laboratory is a not-for-profit digital thinklab. Founded in 2008 and based in the UK, it is equal parts research platform, virtual portal, and experimental workshop.

Its mission is to explore the conceptual problems that challenge legal and policy approaches to politically violent non-state groups.

Its approach is multidisciplinary, built around the notion that “terrain” is a security metaphor for complex physical, human, and cognitive environments.

Its goals are four-fold:

  • Cross-pollinate academic, practice, industry, and policy interests
  • Promote relevant concept development and communication
  • Establish itself as a creative and authoritative “thinklab”
  • Compile a critical mass of analytical output

CTLab culture is predicated on the vigorous pursuit of knowledge, acquired and developed through syncretic practice. It values the documentary record and the eyewitness account equally. It views intelligence as experiential and cumulative. It believes in the primacy of law in international relations. It sees technology as a tool, not an answer. It eschews solipsistic perspectives of crisis and conflict, and is committed to thick understanding. It understands that research by remote fits hand in glove with the tale well told after a long walk in harsh climes.

This is, in my view, exactly the “Think Tank 2.0” road that academia, government and civil society need to go down in order to get a grasp on evolving global problems that are increasingly interdependent, complex and transnational. When Michael Innes, CTLab’s executive director, invited me to join his roster of distinguished contributors I readily agreed to do so, starting next month. This site is one that I think is only going to grow in terms of influence and policy impact.

What does this mean for Zenpundit ? Business will continue as usual here with some pieces being cross-posted elsewhere where appropriate ( historical posts at PH, cognitive-synthesis and thought pieces at CTLabs, book reviews, economics and mil-theory at Chicago Boyz etc.) and original material posted elsewhere will be linked to here.  Should be a good way of getting different blog audiences to interact as well.

Switch to our mobile site