Back in the mists of time when I started a blog (long since gone), I was some kind of animal in an ecosystem (what happened to that, eh?) and there was a different culture. I have commented before that the disappearance of the easy trackback system from blogger seems to have been one instrument in killing the collegiality that seemed to exist (I have yet to figure out how to do trackback - if it's even possible from posterous - and going to everyone else's site and commenting "I added a link to you!!" is a bit laborious).
Laura McKenna summed up the process well in this post.
What has struck me recently is even how many well-known academic blogs have shuttered. So I decided to have a look back at the Cliopatria award winners. How many of them are still around?
Awards were first given for 2005, announced at the AHA in January 2006 (I got to collect the certificate on behalf of Frog in a Well - we were "best group blog").
Other winners that year were Blog Them Out of the Stone Age and BibliOdyssey, Old is the New New and Easily Distracted (all still going strong), and Rhine River, which became Europe Endless, and ceased updating in 2009.
Of the winners for 2006, Participant Historian seems to have folded in December of that year. AxisofEvelKnievel was last updated in 2008, William Turkel shuttered Digital History Hacks (with an explanation and link to his new site) the Civil Warriors are still going, and Chris Bray is still contributing to Cliopatria.
From 2007, Timothy Burke won again (for Easily Distracted), Steamboats are Ruining Everything is still going, Civil War Memory moved but is still alive, Religion in American History, yep, In the Middle yes, and Errol Morris won for a series in the New York Times - which, as of this writing, is still in publication.
From 2008, Wynken de Worde - not sure, dormant since January of this year. Zunguzungu, Edge of the American West and Walking the Berkshires are still active, as are two of my most favouritest blogs, Northwest History and Tenured Radical.
It seems a little early to prognosticate of the fate of the winners announced at the last AHA, who are listed here.
Obviously, people's lives change, they move on (my theory of where all the bloggers went from 5-10 years ago was that they started having children...). In academia, people have become more conscious of what they post online, I think a few public cases have revealed that there is no real anonymity on the internet, so there are fewer no-holds-barred academic blogs than there used to be. Time was, that (some) people seemed to think of their site as somehow semi-private, and that it was immoral or snooping for, say, a Search Committee member to google a candidate or read their site. That attitude has faded away, and a recognition that you will be judged by your site I think led a number of people to just give it up all together. (In history there seems to be a digital divide, between those who see online presence as a useful asset for their careers, and those who can barely handle email).
Of all the bloggers I miss, I have lamented the absence of Invisible Adjunct. She never chose to reveal her true identity, but I hope she found success.