Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Open Plea To Milbloggers

There is a disturbing trend among milbloggers; they fade away. So many who have written during their deployments come home and eventually shut down their blogs. This groundswell of on-the-spot literature detailing the experiences of so many and giving unique insights into the minds of America's fighting few is as temporary as a Facebook profile or a Yahoo Personals ad. That's a loss, because we few, we happy few, we band of bloggers are writing history and then deleting it.

More after the jump.

Last year I was contacted by a graduate student in history who sought permission to archive my blog. I'm sure I was not the only one. A friend of mine, Susan, a PhD Professor of Journalism who is fascinated by the phenomenon of milblogging, lamented two things in a recent conversation. First, she lamented the fact that so many female milbloggers just go away, as they provide a unique insight into a war that females have shared the burden in like no other. Second was the fact that so many milbloggers cannot find what we decided to call a "post-deployment voice." I know I struggled with this, and a quick check of my archives after my return from the lumpy sandbox will show that struggle. Eventually, I found that voice. Many don't.

Susan also pointed out that there are dozens of Iraqi blogs that are maintained even if the principle author is killed. These are insurgent blogs, and at this rate their history will overshadow our own. Win the war, lose the history. Hey, it's happened before. It's not like there aren't, or won't be, any revisionists out there. Ask a holocaust survivor... if you can find one.

Troy, the author of Bouhammer, and I discussed this as well. He had the same trouble. We talked about the number of blogs out there, some quite popular while the author was in a theater of combat, who just faded away, eventually to remove their blog from the rolls of the blogosphere. Some had their own domains and I suppose that they just got tired of paying for them. Some just quit writing, but instead of leaving the blog up they deactivated it or deleted it.

Here is my plea: Don't delete your blog. Please don't delete your blog. Whether you realize it or not, whether you can find a post-deployment voice or not, whether or not you feel that you can share the experiences of being a veteran warrior returning to a country that seems to have forgotten or chooses to ignore, please don't delete your blog. You have written history, and someday there will be those who wish to know what you saw, how you felt, how the events such as the summits, the conferences, the elections, the official high level stuff that others will care to prognosticate, spin, alter and otherwise fold, spindle or mutilate affected you as an entity who wore one pair of boots at a time. Someday your story may affect someone's perception of how the big picture looked from your angle, and how your little picture fit into the big picture.

It's bigger than you. If you are paying for a domain and you wish to stop, get a blogspot address and import your old posts. Please. It's too easy.

Historians want to be the ones who unearth the next treasure trove of long-dormant letters from the front in a trunk from an old attic. We have done more documentation of this war from the ground level than in any other war. Except this war, which has been so well documented on electrons, is likely to be the least well-documented in posterity because electrons fade away or are deleted.

So, from one blogger to another (or thousands of others,) please keep your blog up on the net, even if you never write in it again.

Readers, if you have a favorite milblog that has disappeared, send in the name and old link to the blog. We're going to start a list of now-defunct blogs and perhaps we can prevail upon the authors to restore their blogs, if not their voices, to the blogosphere.


  1. I agree with Brat. It is an excellent idea. Actually, I've got a list partially started on my side bar..."Damn! No longer writing."
    Sadly, I've noticed a few more links on "My Daily Addictions" that need to be moved.

    Just for posterity's sake, I wish y'all luck in getting all former mil-blogs restored or archived.

  2. Also, don't forget to check archive.org for any websites or milblogs that have since stopped being updated or have been deleted.

  3. This is an important conversation and it needs further investigation as well as exploration of as many means to overcome as possible.

    Let me throw another idea out there. Rather than start a new site, reach out to an established site. (Or do both) This has numerous benefits to include an established readership, little or no cost to the new author, and decreased pressure for daily musings.

    WOTN is opening the door for milbloggers to contribute. We are actively reaching out to established and upstarts who want a bully pulpit. Sure there are standards and rules, but you'll like them. And if you were to print them out and put them in your beret, no one would even notice the bulge.

    Seriously, when considering the platform for your voice, consider joining the blog of a Veteran blogger such as Ole Blue. It'll provide the established site a fresh voice and the NUG a crowd to preach to.

  4. Old Blue, I have many I have left in the MilBlog ring, many are truly gone - no site left at all. "The page cannot be found." Greyhawk and I decided to keep the ones still viewable in the ring for this very reason and have some that go back as far as 2004. If we could have the hard drive space to download them all we would but it's not possible for us.

    We call them the Ghost Battalion... As Greyhawk put it in the History of MilBlogs they are like abandoned defensive positions in shifting desert sands. Once some bold soldier was here, now no more. The ghost battalions of the web.

  5. Excellent idea Blue. This milblog world is an opportunity like none other in recorded history.

    I have some in mind. Michael of This is Your War II http://thisisyourwarii.blogspot.com/ had a very rough deployment and has PTSD issues. He writes about once a year. He could use a shout out.

    The blogger who posted under the Nom de Guerre: Dreadcow at Fun With Hand Grenades http://funwithhandgrenades.blogspot.com/ has just posted a comment about his post Army life.

    I left a comment directing him here, if he chooses. He was and is an amazing writer who decided to delete his blog. Whether it's gone for good I don't know.

    I keep Eddie, the Paratrooper from Eighty Deuce on the Loose on my blog roll because of the things he accomplished: (He arranged to have a dog, the platoon mascot sent back to the USA, while performing heavy duty patrols.)

    http://airborneparainf82.blogspot.com/ He's a reservist now and planning a book.

    Of course the archives of KABOOM: A SOLDIER'S WAR JOURNAL is still up.

    http://kaboomwarjournalarchive.blogspot.com/ A very important body of work as it stands. He to is planning a book.

    And two Soldier's who's tours in Iraq overlapped who were both prolific writers of thoughtful, intelligent commentary, Buck Sargent and T.F. Boggs who have gone all but silent; it would be such a boon to help them find their voices again. These two guys would definitely be an asset to the community.

    Tim Boggs’ archives are to be found here: http://boredsoldier.blogspot.com/2007/06/new-website.html and he started Vox Veterana but seems to be struggling as a writer at http://www.voxveterana.com/

    Buck Sargent is pure genius when it comes to documenting the war. (He does prose, he does verse, he does video, he does music) He served a tour in Afghanistan and two in Iraq. He went virtually silent during his second tour in Iraq but if some of you heavy hitters in the community could encourage him it would be a great thing.

    And lastly, Teflon Don of Acute Politics fame writes sporadically but is also struggling to find his voice and could use a shout out.

    Also his former boss Badger 6 who wrote Badgers Forward while they provided Route Cleareance in Al Anbar for the Marines.

    These are all Soldiers who did some excellent writing about their experiences.

  6. Great idea, Blue. The only problem with great ideas is that whomever comes up with them is usually the one who gets stuck with them. *heh*

    For those bloggers who taught us so much and made us all feel comfortable no matter our place in this life, those whom we shall cry tears for because they no longer have a voice in this world, let us never forget them either. One person in particualar I am referring to and that would Bill Faith of Small Town Veterans. He was my friend, he was a hero, he was an excellent writer, and now he is with our Lord. He is at Peace, but his words did linger. They have purpose. Please get them before they disappear. Please.

  7. Wonderful post, and I couldn't agree more.

    Be safe.

  8. Let's not forget Sgt Hook. He hasn't posted since he got back from Iraq just after Thanksgiving last year.

  9. But what if the soldier, sailor, airman, or marine redeploys home and there's not as much to discuss anymore? Once home, you're out of the mix and family life picks up where you left off prior to the deployment. There's not much more to say when you get home from a deployment about the who's and what's of military missions and life in theater...? Is it truly interesting to hear about what soldiers have to say long after the deployment has ended, especially when everything's been said....? If there's a way to continue blogging after returning home? Just curious. -Former ARSIC soldier from A'stan.


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