State of the military historioblogosphere, March 2008

[Cross-posted at Revise and Dissent.]

It's time again for my six-monthly look at that portion of the blogosphere devoted to military history, as defined by the 'Wars and Warriors' section of Cliopatria's blogroll. So, let's begin.

Blogs: numbers

Not a lot has changed since September, actually, and this plot shows why: the number of military history blogs has grown by only 13%, whereas between March and September 2007, it grew by more than 50%. Does this mean that fewer military history blogs are being started than before, or that instead Cliopatria is missing a significant portion of them? I'd be tempted to say the latter -- the Cliopatricians are only human, after all, and can only add those blogs which come to their attention -- but I can't think of any they've missed. Also, the rate of growth of the blogosphere may be slowing -- it's hard to say, as Technorati seem to have stopped publishing their quarterly state of the blogosphere reports.

Bloggers: nationality

Here's one change: the Australian share of the military historioblogosphere has doubled from, from 7% to 14%. This is almost entirely due to the Australian War Memorial's new group blog, which draws on a wide range of its staff. (I'm not sure if this means the AWM will abandon the practice of separate blogs for each of its exhibitions -- at the moment, the forthcoming Over the Front exhibition is the main focus.)

This growth has been at the expense of the Americans. Even taking into account the bloggers of unknown nationality -- who are mostly going to be Americans too, given their predominant interest in the American Civil War -- they're now closer to three-fifths of the military historioblogosphere than three-quarters, as before.

Bloggers: gender

The number of women blogging about military history continues to slowly edge upwards. Much of the growth, and most of the bloggers, are in group blogs, mostly attached to an institution or research project, rather than individually.

Subjects: theatre

Nothing to see here ...

Subjects: period

... move along ...

Subjects: war

... move along.

Technorati ranks

Finally, we come to the only bit that anybody ever looks at, the top 5 military history blogs by Technorati rank. And here there has in fact been quite a bit of movement. Two of the top 5 are new to the list, and there is also a new number 1. That's Civil War Memory, which has been threatening to become the most popular military history blog ever since I started doing these posts. Second is one of the new entrants, Kings of War. Though it's an excellent blog, and has impeccable academic credentials, it's only very rarely about military history: reflecting the interests of its maintainers, it's mostly about contemporary wars. But as it is in fact in Cliopatria's blogroll, and it has become very popular very quickly, Kings of War has earned its place at number 2. At number three is the former number one, and still the doyen of military history blogs, Blog Them Out of the Stone Age. Fourth is the other newcomer, Rantings of a Civil War Historian. And bringing up the rear is Airminded (phew).

None of this proves anything, other than the fact that I enjoy plotting numbers in a half-arsed fashion (and really, who doesn't?) But what will happen next time? Will Australians take over the military historioblogosphere? Will Kevin Levin still have bragging rights over Mark Grimsley? Only time will tell ...

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16 thoughts on “State of the military historioblogosphere, March 2008

  1. Interesting report. I never know what to make of those Technorati rankings, especially given that the number has fluctuated widely over the past few months. That said, I'll take #1 while it last. Thanks for taking the time to do this.

  2. Post author

    Yes, the rankings do bounce all over the place, or alternatively, drop precipitously for no obvious reason (the top 5 were all a lot higher 5 months ago). I probably should use the alternative figure published by Technorati, the "authority", which is more stable (it's the number of incoming links to a blog over the last 90 or 180 days, or something like that). But as that's essentially was Technorati use to measure popularity, it wouldn't change the ranks any. It's no doubt a very inaccurate measure but as you say, enjoy it while you're number one :)

  3. Thank you for running this analysis. I confess to being easily impressed by numbers and 98,047 sure sounds a lot. Cool. I need to figure out this Technorati thing. It is true that KOW is very focussed on contemporary wars. I am trying to change that. There are wonderful military historians in the department--lots of them. Unfortunately they tend to the type of person who when saying the word 'blog' feels compelled to place it in inverted commas sort of like the the way Dr Evil says 'laser'. It's a newfangled thingy that people use on the interwebs, right? Oh well, 'if you build it they will come'. In the meantime, I've put up a proper military historical post on KOW about British COIN in 1776 for historically-minded readers.

  4. I'd just add to the above that I probably should have put 'proper' in inverted commas actually; it being a somewhat superficial and tongue-in-cheek piece.

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  6. Post author

    No worries. I'm glad to hear you're trying to tap your local historical talent -- we historians are indeed a rather fusty lot. Good luck!

    While I'm here, I probably should have pointed out in the post that in the top 5 graph, lower numbers are better (more popular).

  7. Technorati rankings are just strange. I don't think there's been much change in IoaD in terms of quality/frequency of posts or number of readers since the start of 2007, but it's gone from being massively overrated in the first round-up to crashing right out of the top 5. I'm now ranked 246,538 with an authority of 33 but in practice it makes absolutely no difference.

  8. Post author

    That's very true. Airminded's been dropping drastically too since the last 'state of ...', even though my readership has apparently climbed by more than 50 percent in that period. FWIW (which, equally, is not very much) I suspect that IoaD would be no. 5 if I used the TTLB rankings, as it's a lot higher than KoW there (with BTOOTSA at 1, followed by CWM, Rantings and Airminded -- separated by only 1 place). But that website is a lot harder to use and the rankings are, if anything, even more flaky than Technorati's.

  9. Brett, you ask in your post (and a very interesting one it is too) if the AWM is going to abandon having separate blogs for exhibitions. I am the Web Manager at the Memorial, and the answer to your question is yes. There are two main reasons for this: firstly, on a practical note, the work involved in maintaining an increasing number of blogs was beginning to take more time than we had; and secondly, we felt a group blog would allow more staff to contribute on a wider variety of topics, and we hoped that would attract a wider audience. So far, this is working, with great interest shown in the posts on finding HMAS Sydney, the opening of new galleries focusing on conflicts since 1945, and of course, on the conservation work being carried on the Albatros, to name a few.

  10. Post author

    Thanks for your comment, Liz! I think it's a good idea, for the reasons you mention and also from the point of view of marketing, I suppose. I've noticed that the Cliopatria blogroll (still the biggest listing of history blogs) has always listed only the AWM homepage, rather than having links to each individual AWM blog. I suppose it was too much trouble for them to list them all, especially given that they would come and go as exhibitions opened and closed. So you may wish to inform them of your new group blog!

    BTW, Sydney has been a popular topic here too -- my sole post on it has been getting quite a few hits, especially from googlers interested in the conspiracy angle. Seems that the Sydney conspiracy theorists haven't discovered the internet yet!

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  12. Jim

    Now I know how little weight to give these rankings. Kevin Levin's site gets the American CW wrong with his biased posts gets a high rank. Maybe it's the phenomena of asymmetric information, that is, the average person doesn't know much history therefore they get it from an inferior source. Happy Confederate Memorial Day.

  13. Sorry Brett, but this is what happens with my readers who are banned from commenting. You can probably guess why.

  14. Jim

    You're right Brett- why would I have commented on Kevin here given that his site is explicitly mentioned? Thanks for clearing that up.

    The point is Kevin doesn't allow for discussion that challenges his biases. You can probably guess why. Therefore, the forum for those discussions must take place elsewhere where Kevin's views are specifically mentioned.

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