When I wrote my first piece for Pue’s back in July 2009, I didn’t really anticipate writing another entry, let alone later joining the editorial team. This was, as far as I was concerned, an intriguing opportunity to offer general thoughts and opinions on the novels central to my research in a space freely accessible to academics and non-academics alike. The responses to that first piece, including one noting how it had helped prompt the reader to pick up Castle Rackrent, however, encouraged me to contribute further pieces to Pue’s, and I was delighted when Juliana, Kevin, and Lisa asked me to come on board as an editor in January 2010.
What I hadn’t realized when I wrote that first piece in 2009 was how appealing I would find the immediacy of blogging. As we discussed at our most recent symposium, ‘Honest to Blog’, there’s quite often a lengthy delay in the academic publishing experience, meaning that timeliness can be a significant problem. A scholarly article commenting on a particular current event or development, for instance, frequently appears long after said event has come and gone. Blogging, however, allows for instant engagement with matters of pressing, if time-limited, concern or interest. More than that, as evidenced by our readers’ lively responses to Pue’s pieces, it engenders immediate critical debate.
That’s not to say, of course, that traditional scholarly publishing isn’t also a central part of encouraging debate and discussion, but blogging allows that exchange to happen without the necessary delays associated with the peer review and publication process. This immediacy is, for me, one of the most appealing aspects of Pue’s and blogging in general, primarily because it facilitates, as Kevin mentioned, very human interactions. At the risk of sounding corny or sentimental, what I love most about Pue’s is its very real sense of community – one that evinces itself most readily online, in the comments section of each post, but one that also extends, as Kevin suggests, to daily life outside the blog. I get a definite thrill each time colleagues, many of whom I didn’t even realise were readers, remark on a post I’ve written, just as I do when I have the opportunity to meet contributors, readers and other interested people ‘live’ at our symposia or, as has happened once or twice, by accident in the street. More than just allowing me to put faces to names, such meetings have really broadened my interests, inside academia and out. Coming from a literary background, I love the way in which Pue’s encourages inter- and extra-disciplinary perspectives. Through Pue’s, I have met, discussed with, learned from, and been inspired by historians, archaeologists, mathematicians, librarians, archivists, digital humanists, radio presenters, and a host of other readers and contributors whose ideas and perspectives have helped me look at my own work anew.
I’d be lying if I said that working on Pue’s is always a piece of cake. In fact, it can sometimes, admittedly, feel like a bit of a chore updating the events page, writing pieces when other work is calling to me, and keeping on top of the various editorial and administrative matters that come with maintaining a blog such as Pue’s. That said, however, the metaphoric payout more than makes up for the work put into it, especially when, for instance, readers are particularly enthused about a given entry, or we head to the pub after a successful symposium to continue our discussions, or we have the opportunity to plug Pue’s on the radio. Successes like these, big and small, are what make working on Pue’s such an immense pleasure. And, of course, such successes are thanks to readers and contributors like you, who keep us going by reading, commenting on, writing for, and generally supporting Pue’s. So, I’ll end my ruminations on the occasion of Pue’s 2nd birthday, with a simple but heartfelt ‘thank you’!