Milblogging is a topic in which I have become increasingly interested of late. Though not directly related to my dissertation research, I felt like I needed to write something on milblogging. Thus, I have submitted an abstract for a proposed paper to be presented at the Association of Internet Researchers (AoIR) 2007 annual conference. Here is the text of the abstract:
Loosing the Blogs of War: The Advent of “Milblogging” in the post-9/11 U.S. Military
Throughout history it has been common for soldiers in combat to keep diaries and to send letters home to their loved ones. It has been equally common for those letters and diaries to serve as invaluable primary sources of data for military historians or the meat of any number of popular and scholarly anthologies. Since September 11, 2001, however, we have seen the advent of a new medium of soldier communication: milblogs. Beginning with U.S. operations in Afghanistan in November 2001, a number of U.S. military personnel began to create blogs as personal journals and as a means of communicating with friends and family back home. With the onset of U.S. operations in Iraq in 2003, the number of milblogs increased dramatically and has continued to increase ever since. Today there are thousands of milblogs written by military personnel and their families. While they continue to serve as tools of personal memory and communication, many have morphed into popular and influential sites devoted to news, opinion, and discussion of military affairs and the war on terrorism. One prominent milblogger argues that, in general, milblogs provide more “uncensored, unmediated, intimate, immediate” information about the war and the military than either the MSM (milblogger slang for “mainstream media”) or the government. As such, this paper will explore the advent of milblogging by examining 1) the initial reasons that milbloggers have given for starting their blogs, 2) the ways that milblogs have changed over time, 3) the promise and value of milblogs as articulated by milbloggers, and 4) milblogger views of the value and meaning of new media in general. As data, the paper will rely on the milblogs themselves, as well as interviews with prominent milbloggers.
I should know something in March or April about whether or not the proposal has been accepted. If accepted, I’ll begin gathering more research on milblogging, as well as making contacts with milbloggers who are willing to be interviewed.