New initiatives for ISAA online ­ Blog ­ ISAA

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New initiatives for ISAA online

Hello ISAA members,

In response to requests from some members that we have an interactive element to our website we are activating the blog. This gives us the potential to develop an online community of scholars and should mean that members who are not near groups or chapters that have regular meetings, seminars and other activities will be able to interact with other members.

In terms of developing an online community of scholars a key challenge for us will be our diversity. I foresee a time when we will develop sub-communities of people from similar disciplinary or research backgrounds but let’s not try to run before we walk!

Keep in mind that the success of the blog depends on members actively using it. Also, keep in mind that most of our administration is done by volunteers and they are spread rather thin.ISAA promotes discussion of issues of interest to independent scholars – which means most issues – so please use our blog to discuss issues about which you have been pondering or about which you are passionate.

Comments Add your own comment

  1. Sybil Jack January 19, 2019 at 1:20 pm #
    I am increasingly concerned about the effect that changes to libraries and archives are making - changes that will impact on independent scholars perhaps more even than others. Michael Wilding has produced a worrying paper published in the Sydney Review of Books that makes plain not only the destruction of our heritage but also the possibility of 1984 type 'reconstruction' of the material available. All of this, for independent scholars is exacerbated by the imposition of fees for the use of material but this is the least of my worries. I would like to think that we could start a movement to prevent librarians and archivists becoming the gatekeepers of independent investigation
  2. Christine Smith January 19, 2019 at 1:20 pm #
    I live in Queensland coastal hinterland and with a dearth of contacts in the scholarly field I am so grateful to have this space. It's been a while since graduation as a (very) mature age student of sociology and writing and i have looked around to find connections for a long time. I've ploughed on regardless, and now this organisation is making me feel much more validated ! What esteemed company !! It has been a welcome find and while I am a happy "Robinson Crusoe" scholarly soul pursuing my interests in family dynamics, politics and culture, I look forward to making connections and learnings on this blog. Thankyou.
  3. Sybil Jack January 19, 2019 at 1:20 pm #
    Trying to persuade a friend to join, I discovered that she felt she was not a scholar. Given her research and publications I was amazed but it did make me wonder who we think we are. In the 19th century British censuses, children still at school were described as scholars. Even if we want to be a bit more restrictive perhaps we should explain what sort of a band of enquiring people we are.
  4. Alan Holgate January 19, 2019 at 1:20 pm #
    On reflection, if our definition of 'support' includes friendly interaction with colleagues, 'service-providers', and anyone willing to lend an ear while we talk about our current preoccupations, then I have received a great deal. A highlight was about 2001 when I gave a talk to the Victorian Chapter of ISAA. It was reassuring to have my work taken seriously by the professor of history who was chairing the meeting. He informed me that I was a micro-historian and that provided a much-needed sense of identity! Individual local members and ex-colleagues have listened to me rehearse my latest web page story, while archive staff at UMA and NLA have always been friendly and interested in the project. As my website about John Monash's civil engineering prior to WW1 grew, people contacted me with offers of additional information and photographs, and some corrections. Consultant architects and engineers in the heritage conservation field requested more detailed information on extant Monash structures. The Heritage Group of the Institution of Engineers Australia provided an opportunity for two further talks and their policy of marking historical engineering works with commemorative plaques is a source of continuing interaction. Some of these contacts resulted in personal meetings, and some friendships. However, my routine post-retirement project of reading documents, taking notes on basic facts, turning these into prose and then loading them onto web pages where they might be of use to others did not offer opportunity for the sort of support that stimulates creativity through constructive criticism and the swapping of ideas. The bulk of what interaction did occur happened after publication of the website, and largely on the initiative of others. It might be fruitful to ponder why none of them was an ISAA member! Do we cover too wide a range of interests and disciplines? Do most members find sufficient support outside ISAA? Are members worried that their ideas might be 'borrowed' if they share them? Based on the experience with my website, it might be a step in the right direction if we provided specific details of our work-in-progress on the ISAA website. This would allow people who cannot get to Chapter meetings to see whether they would be able to offer support online or by email. Note: Owing to a change of policy by VicNet the URL of my website is now
  5. sybil Jack January 19, 2019 at 1:20 pm #
    I think that the definition of support Alan favours is too narrow. People are social beings, they live in communities and ostracism is usually a problem, Alan may be happy as Robinson Crusoe but most of us want interaction to sharpen our ideas or point us in new directions. A thread that people can use to air their preoccupations sounds like a good idea but let us not be patronising, we all need help with aspects of what we are doing. Does Alan really know all he needs to? I know I don't and not only when I am writing about the history of technology.
  6. Alan Holgate June 03, 2014 at 1:28 pm #
    The question of 'support" has come up in these blogs and elsewhere, and I wonder whether we need a thread with that title? After 30 years as an academic and since retirement pursuing a fairly mundane project, I don't feel I need support, but evidently some people do. It would be interesting to know what proportion of our members feel this way, and what sort of support they envisage. I guess that Chapter meetings at which members talk about their interests and projects, and get feedback that they are doing something worthwhile and making a competent job of it, provide form of support - also by giving others an idea of the sort of research they might undertake However, many of us find it difficult or impossible to attend these meetings. People who have not studied at postgraduate level might need some pointers about finding outlets for their work in the conventional paper and book publishing game - though with the web there are many new ways of self-publishing and dinosaurs like myself are probably not competent to offer suggestions. A very simple form of support might be to provide pointers to libraries, archives or websites that might be of relevance, or to offer to read other members' drafts. However, these are only my speculations and we need input from members who might benefit.
  7. Susan Steggall May 27, 2014 at 11:33 am #

    A great initiative Christine.

    ISAA membership has a wide geographical spread with representation in virtually all states and territories although concentrated along the eastern seaboard. It also ranges, intellectually, over many interests and specialisations. As Ann Moyal has written that ‘this diverse body of thinkers and writers mark[s]…a source of expertise in varied aspects of our national culture – in history, economics, literature, science, social studies, the arts, law, communication, public policies, public administration, international and regional relationships, and other cultures’ (‘ISAA, the founding years: a personal view’, ‘ISAA Review’, vol.10, no.1, 2011, p.13).
    Because of scattered presence and varying degrees of contact with tertiary institutions, ISAA’s publications – the ‘Proceedings’ of its annual conferences and state seminars that look in depth at a particular theme over a broad spectrum of disciplines, and the ISAA Review that records the fruits of the intellectual work of ISAA’s membership base as a whole – are of vital importance in reinforcing a sense of collegiality. These publications are the visible, physical proof that ISAA is alive and well in the scholarly community. However the ‘ISAA Review’ appears twice a year (June and December), the ‘ISAA National Newsletter’ three times (March, August and December) and the various seminar and conference ‘Proceedings’ a few months after each event.
    The new blog function on the ISAA website, together with the revitalised ‘Articles’ section plus up-to-date Chapter and Group activities, now gives ISAA members opportunities to present their ideas and the fruits of their research in a much more immediate fashion and to overcome… not exactly barriers but let’s say, the constraints of diversity and distance.

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