Ah, Carnivals. The very words conjure up a multitude of images. Sequins. Dodgems. Cheap Candy Floss. Dubious Papier-mâché floats. Slightly Scary Carnies. Vomit. Luckily none of these have anything to do with the History Carnival. The History Carnival is an event hosted on a different website each month and is essentially a compilation of some of the best history blog posts/articles/content that have popped up over the preceding month. Posts can be nominated by anyone and the host decides which to include in the Carnival. As well as the History Carnival itself there are other era or subject specific Carnivals as well.
Being relatively new to history blogging I must admit that I had taken the presence of History Carnivals somewhat for granted. I had kind of assumed they had been here for ever and would continue as such. I was therefore surprised when Sharon, the keeper of the Carnivals, tweeted her concern about whether to carry on organising them. She continued the discussion on her blog and raises some interesting points about their providence and concerns about their ongoing effectiveness [here].
From my point of view, when I discovered history blogging a year or so ago two things were very important in drawing me into what felt like a community of blogs; blogrolls were one and the history carnivals posted on various sites were the other. Blogrolls are very useful, but they can never be exhaustive, plus they tend to be quite uniform; simple lists with little or no description (see mine to the bottom right!).
What I liked about the History Carnival is that as they were hosted by different people there was always a different flavour to it, occasionally with a specific theme, but always moulded by that particular individual’s tastes and preferences. Via Carnivals I have discovered many sites and much history that I was not aware of and probably wouldn’t have come across in my normal pattern of browsing. That isn’t to say that the content is always exactly up my street, or that the blog I visit through the carnival will be one I visit regularly again, but more often than not I’ve found enough enjoyable content via Carnivals to make it worth the browse.
The trick with blogging is always how to get good content ‘out there’ and read. I expect a fair amount of effort goes into preparing and editing a Carnival post (perhaps the Gentleman Administrator should host one and find out?) and as always it is frustrating to put effort into something for it not to pick up an audience. Perhaps Twitter will help the Carnival develop new audiences, it may even help it evolve into its next incarnation. So, for the moment I reckon it’s worth sticking with the Carnivals as they are, at least I will be, and maybe I’ll even throw my hat in the ring.
Oh, and the October History Carnival is now up at Katrina Gulliver’s site: Notes from the Field, enjoy.