Tag Archives: blogging

Southern Jaunt #2 — Meeting IRL

I’m on a 2-3 week trip through the South, visiting family, attending a workshop and conference, and enjoying some time away from Indiana. I’m call the excursion my Southern Jaunt. This is my second in a series of posts about my trip.


I’ve been in Atlanta for three days attending the “Doing Sport History in the Digital Present” workshop sponsored by Georgia Tech and the North American Society for Sport History (NASSH). It was a pre-conference workshop. NASSH’s conference is this weekend. It has been a wonderful experience. Everyone has been super welcoming, supportive, and engaged with other people’s work. I’ve had so many great conversations and met a lot of people.

One of the neat things about the workshop, was the pre-review process. Everyone read each other’s papers ahead of time. We also commented on a couple of them in preparation for panel presentations. This not only ensured that everyone was engaged, but also served as an introduction to each other. Thus when we arrived in Atlanta, it was fun to meet the minds and personalities behind the text we’d been reading.

Meeting and workshopping our papers before our panel.

Meeting and workshopping our papers before our panel.

Meeting people in real life (IRL as the kids say) is always fun and interesting. When I’m reading I always have an image and a voice of a person in my mind. Then, when you meet the person, you get to see if you were right. You also pick up more elements of their personality, sense of humor, etc. This was striking to me in a couple of ways because it made me realize that despite long-standing digital connections and online friendships, your conception of someone is still only an idea. Digital friendships and collaborations are un-bodied or disembodied.

I Tweeted this a few days ago upon arriving in Atlanta, but over the course of this week (both the workshop and the conference), I will likely meet at least 50 people I know from blogging, Twitter, email, and other digital mediums for the first time face to face. It’s kind of incredible.

My workshop paper discussed community and blogging, and how it can extend the conference, tear down barriers, and promote the field (and, I might add, individual scholars). As testament to this power, and the power of digital technology, is the fact that until the workshop, I had never met my co-editors IRL. We’d chatted online, video-conferenced, etc. but we’d never met face to face. Upon meeting we acted like friends, we worked well together, and many people assumed we knew each other for a while. I think it was because of our ease in communicating and familiarity with each other’s work/ideas, but also the fact we built something together and trusted each other solely through a digital collaboration/friendship. In some ways that anecdote proves that digital friendships and collaborations can work, and that digital communities are powerful. Despite that, I am glad to have finally met them. I also glad to have been accepted to attend the workshop and the conference. Personal, human, face to face engagement is important.

I’m little embarrassed to admit this, but this will be my first NASSH. I’ve been working in sport history since around 2009, but haven’t made it to the field’s major conference. I don’t really have any excuses, and I have wanted to go, but for one reason or another I haven’t. So I’m thrilled to be here and making IRL connections with scholars I have read, cited, emailed, Tweeted, Facebook’ed, and so on. It’s going to be a fantastic weekend.

Beers and laptops.

Beers and laptops.

Because it is my first NASSH, I’m in a weird but extremely flattering position. There are people who want to meet me. As lowly graduate students we never expect that. Indeed, I met one person already this week who knew who I was from the Sport in American History blog, but didn’t know me. He told me that for someone who is attending NASSH for the first time, I already have a pretty large footprint. I don’t think he was trying to feed my ego, but instead highlighting the success of the blog. For me, the blog has been my conference and my community. It will continue to be those things, but I’m glad to move beyond the digital and become a real person with a face and a personality. The real life connections and conversations in sessions and over beers are important, especially because not everyone embraces the digital. Likewise, those conversations are part of the difference between knowing someone and knowing someone. Digital communities can only go so far.

Blogging & the College Football Playoff

I’m trying something a bit new over on the Sport in American History blog today. We want to take advantage of current events as both teachable moments and ways to lure in new readers. This week we’re focusing on the new College Football Playoff to share the history of college football. We’re kicking things off today with a special-double post.

The first post is a historiographical overview of college football’s relationship with mass media and the influence of money on the sport. It advances an argument while also surveying important books in the field. One of our goals for the blog this year is to do a better job of introducing our readers to sports history literature. Linking a current event with a historiographical post that explains it is one of the ways we hope to accomplish this.

“The Road to the Playoffs: College Football, Mass Media, and Money”

The second post outlines the history of the college football postseason and the changing methods of determining the sport’s national champions. While there are some historiographic elements to this post, it is mostly just an assemblage of facts that explain how we got to the playoff. It is more narrative driven, though at times it simply lists facts. It’s not a deep exploratory post nor is it argumentative. It tells facts that are familiar to some, but probably not everyone.

“College Football and the Postseason: From Polls to Bowls to Playoffs”

I hope our readers find them interesting and appealing. Later in the week we’ll have another post that looks at Southern football culture and social media reactions to the playoff games. I’m really looking forward to that post as an almost rapid-reaction piece mixed with some cultural explanation. If all goes well, I’d like to see more of these double posts and week-long current event themes. I took the lead on this one because college football is my area of research, but I could see someone else doing something on the Super Bowl, the Women’s World Cup this summer, or even Major League Baseball’s opening day.

DigiWriMo

I don’t even know why, but I signed up for DigiWriMo — Digital Writing Month — sponsored by the folks at Hybrid Pedagogy and the Marylhurst English and Digital Humanities program. It’s based on the National Writing Month challenge where the goal is to write 50,000 words in 30 days. I’m 110% sure I’m not going to accomplish that goal. I’m stating that now for all to see, but I am still participating. I tend to be pretty competitive, so maybe I’ll get close, but that’s not the point of it for me.

If I don’t plan on meeting the goal, then why am I doing, you might ask. Well, I have 3-4 reasons:

  1. I like the folks putting it on and see it as a way to collaborate, network, and learn more about digital humanities and digital writing. Every interaction I have had with them has been rewarding and helped me learn more about this field and re-think teaching, and perhaps now writing.
  2. I need to become a more disciplined and regular writer. I’m a grad student. I read and write a lot. But I’m also a procrastinator. I realize that I wont have deadlines and professors pushing me to be productive and finish my work. Someday I want to write books, do research, etc. I’m hoping that doing this will give me ideas, tips, and just plain old practice in carving out time to write.
  3. I’m behind on some of my work. I feel like this gives me extra-momentum and support to catch up.
  4. I want to learn to stop being anxious about writing. I think sometimes I put it off because I think I don’t have anything to say, or that it wont be good enough. I need to learn and be forced to put my ideas on the page no matter what. I’ve found that when I do, it really helps me think through ideas and issues I am working on. I’m fond of the phrase “writing to know” because I think writing helps us process and truly learn things.

I’m not without reservation signing up for this. I don’t really like word counts. I don’t know where or how I’m going to share my stuff. Some of my words will just be grad school assignments that I dont think are appropriate to publish here. Others might be journaling, creative, etc. I might work on outlines and brain storms too. Who knows. But I’m using this month as time to be productive, to write, to share, and to learn. Stay tuned to see how it shapes up. I’ll certainly be keeping up with my once-a-week posting my goal and probably will have more than that.