On May 2, 2007, I launched Knitting Clio with the cryptic message, “Welcome to my blog. I am a “digital history hack” (not to be confused with Bill Turkel’s website), so please be patient as I learn how to do this!”
I neglected to mention that my blog was the product of a seminar I took at the Center for HIstory and New Media. Initially, I was skeptical about Dan Cohen’s recommendation that academics should blog. Who has the time? I was also worried that putting my ideas out there on the Web would make them more vulnerable to intellectual theft. Eventually, my concerns dissipated and Knitting Clio was born. The frequency of my posts has dwindled considerably over the years but I’ve managed to keep in going.
Five years later, I was invited to be a contributor to Nursing Clio, “a collaborative blog project that ties historical scholarship to present-day political, social, and cultural issues surrounding gender and medicine. Men’s and women’s bodies, their reproductive rights, and their healthcare are often at the center of political debate and have also become a large part of the social and cultural discussions in popular media. Whether the topic is abortion, birth control, sex, or the pregnant body, each and every one of these issues is embedded with historical dynamics of race, class, and gender. Our tagline – The Personal is Historical – is meant to convey that the medical debates that dominate today’s headlines are, in fact, ongoing dialogues that reach far back into our country’s past. The mission of Nursing Clio is to provide a platform for historians, health care workers, community activists, students, and the public at large to engage in sociopolitical and cultural critiques of this ongoing and historical debate over the gendered body. It is our contention that Nursing Clio will provide a coherent, intelligent, informative, and fun historical source for these issues.”
In other words, Nursing Clio does on a much larger scale what I hoped to do in Knitting Clio — except the “co-production of knowledge” through a group blog means that content appears regularly (at least 2-3 times per week). We also read and comment on each others work before it appears. Nursing Clio has attracted a much wider audience than Knitting Clio. The most page views I’ve received in a day is 638, while Nursing Clio received over 48,000 views on its best day. My most recent Nursing Clio post, on the “Camp Gyno” viral video, received over 500 views the first day it was published. So, clearly I’m getting more attention as a group blogger, as well as feeling like part of a community. I think my best online writing, at least recently, has been for Nursing Clio. So, for me, blogging with other people has been more productive than blogging by myself. This doesn’t mean that Knitting Clio will disappear, but if you want to see what I’m up to on a regular basis, read Nursing Clio, and/or my Twitter feed.