Civil War Blogging is to Milblogging like…

… like firing a Springfield musket is to an M-16.

Not a good comparison but I liked the lead in title.  Pardon a second “just off scope” post for the day, but I’ve been reviewing post event reports from several who attended the Milblog Conference this weekend.  I’ve mentioned before a personal link to milblogging, by way of some policy input during one of my former day-jobs.  And of course I have a natural affinity to many of those who milblog (although in spite of my limited forays into such, I would not consider myself properly certified to be a milblogger.  Heck I don’t even know if XBrad considers himself a full fledged milblogger.).

The movement sprang forward in the last five years to now capture the attention of many senior military leaders.  To say it is a phenomena is an understatement.  One might make the case that milblogging has exhibited a strategic effect on the current world situation, and on the Army.  I won’t go much more into that here, as we start treading on politics a bit.  My point is that milblogers have crafted out their spot on the internet and staked their claim.

Now is there anything that we in the Civil War blogger community might consider from their success?  Perhaps lessons learned about how to approach blogging?

First off the similarities.  From a technical perspective, blogging is blogging.  Anyone thinking about starting a blog can read the “how to start” pages from military.com and get the idea.  Although they might well end up with some khaki colored theme.  Further, many of the tips and techniques suggested hold true regardless if you are blogging about ham sandwiches, quantum physics, or 18th century English literature.    And of course as a pattern of behavior, blogging and readers’ response to blogging, follow some common paths regardless of the subject.

But there are significant differences.  Milblogging tends to be, but is not confined to, a sense of activism.  Just browse through three of my favorite milblogs:  Bouhammer’s Afghanistan Blog, Blackfive, and CJ Grisham’s A Soldier’s Perspective.  Full disclaimer, yes, these guys are writing about all sorts of current, and in some cases personal, events.  But that is my point, they are writing with a focus, and that focus is to influence events.

On the other hand, we in the Civil War blog community tend to focus in a different area. I’d argue our focus is most often the interpretation of the past, particularly how that might be better presented or possibly re-interpreted.  Is that activism?  Perhaps at some level.  But it is not the “get out your pitchforks and signs to go march” activism (and nor is milblogging for that matter).  Think about it, would any of us Civil War bloggers “blackout” for something like this?  I can’t think of a situation where Civil War bloggers would even be in that position to begin with!

But we do promote particular causes and efforts.  Arguably contrasting the blunt force of a sledgehammer with a tack hammer to work the fine edgings.  Perhaps cross links, re-tweets, Facebook shares, and blog rolls are sufficient.  On the other hand, I kind of like the full court press approach used by Keith over at Cosmic America.  And you must admit the combined air-ground game there has much of the same components seen at use in the milbogging community!

I seriously doubt we’d ever have some “CivWarBlogger” conference akin to that held for the milbloggers.  If for nothing else, the combined egos would throw the earth off axis!  But I do see value with observing the techniques, style, and practices in that community for application on “our side.”  And I’d venture to say the same goes round for about any other blogging community out there.

2 thoughts on “Civil War Blogging is to Milblogging like…

  1. I do indeed consider myself a full-on milblogger, and in fact, am a member of the the milblogs webring. Just because no one has nominated me for a MilBlog award ( **cough**Craig**cough**) doesn’t mean I am not proud to be a part of that community.

    But I’m not the activist sort of blogger that CJ, Bouhammer and such are. And indeed, being a part of the greater milblog community is actually something of a handicap to what I first envisioned my blog as addressing. As a milblog, my audience is mostly veterans and others with a strong military background. Ironically, the whole idea of the blog was to reach out to people that didn’t have that background, and attempt to give them a greater understanding of the Army and the military, more than they would gain from popular news sources, and stripped of the jargon that most military people use, and that makes the topic impenetrable to the public at large.

    Your narrow focus on certain aspects of ACW similarly has two edges. While it may limit your appeal to a broader audience, it does allow you to expound at length on a topic important to you.

    • “Ironically, the whole idea of the blog was to reach out to people that didn’t have that background, and attempt to give them a greater understanding of the Army and the military, more than they would gain from popular news sources, and stripped of the jargon that most military people use, and that makes the topic impenetrable to the public at large.”

      That is a very good point about Milblogging. I can recall in the 1990s there was a great gap between the military community and the civilian communitie(s). As consequence, the average American didn’t understand the impact of base closures, extended deployments, and other forces that caused great consternation within the military and associated groups. And more often than not, when attempting to convey the message about that consternation, too much was lost in translation. Very good point.

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