June 3, 2008
State of the Blog Address and Other Thoughts
The state of the blog is sound…
Today’s post is a milestone, of sorts. It is my 100th entry on “Chicago History,” but I have barely made a dent in the topics I would like to cover.
“Chicago History” began in November of 2007 and the readership, while climbing steadily, remains small; Sitemeter records that, as of this writing, there have been 4645 visits and readers have viewed 7737 pages. My Google PageRank is 4. Not very impressive stats by any scorecard and I’ve often wondered whether the time I spend on the blog would best be redirected. Perhaps that day will come, but for now I am content.
My lack of time to write has been disappointing. Initially I had hoped to do more original articles, but lately the blog has evolved into a sort of web portal on particular Chicago history topics and excerpts from obscure old books. That isn’t all bad, as I have heard from students who have found the blog helpful and there will, no doubt, be more in the future. But, I am hoping to do more writing in the months to come, so please stick around. Historian David McCullough once said about his own work, “In time I began to understand that it's when you start writing that you really find out what you don't know and need to know.” I have found that to be true even of my simple blog posts. There is a great deal I don’t know and want to know and so I need to write. The trick, cautions McCullough, is to write something that someone wants to read.
What can you expect from “Chicago History” in the future? Major event topics will be included, of course. Theaters, writers, working women, and architecture are sure to be topics of future posts, but I am increasingly interested in how people simply lived their day to day lives in 19th and early 20th century Chicago. The city was the poster child of urbanization, but what did that mean? How did it affect them - all those railroads and skyscrapers and immigrants flooding into their little prairie town. The growth of industry and manufacturing exploded, but what was the weight of a man’s paycheck and how was it spent? What did people do for fun? What did food cost? I have lots of questions and maybe there is one young reader who has the same questions. Kiddo, this blog’s for you!
So, today I celebrate my centennial post and to inform my readers, ironically, that there will be no new entry for a couple of days. I am going to be very distracted, as I’m sure others will be also, watching history in the making. In all likelihood, Senator Barack Obama will become the first African-American to receive the nomination for President of the United States tonight (hopefully!). I want to see it. My guess is that historians around the country are salivating over the footnote opportunities alone since the Senator is from Illinois, home of Abraham Lincoln. This is great theater, to say the least, and I plan on being front row center this evening with a glass raised to toast the nominee. I encourage you to do likewise, even if he is not your first candidate of choice. This is history, right now, before your eyes and there is no blog post in the world that is so important that you should miss it.
But, come back soon. While I am having to work more hours at my j-o-b (the US economy, you know), I have abandoned my dream of finishing my BA degree so with school on the back burner I will have more time to study. (Irony at its best!)The second hundred posts will begin later this week and I promise to write more, do better research and work harder for myself and for all you wonderful readers, out there in the dark…