A virtual Civil War Roundtable?

I have been thinking lately, especially with having a presence on the web and Facebook, about Civil War Round Tables. These groups consist of members, who get together on a regular basis and discuss topics relating to the war. They often include a speaker, with question and answer sessions following, as well as dinner. There are several located around the country, but what about those of us (myself included) who do not live near an established round table group? What about creating a virtual Civil War Round Table?

With the ever increasing use of the internet, especially the blogosphere, by historians, I think the time has come to create a virtual Civil War Round Table, where interested parties could come together and discuss the war and present their knowledge at a pre-determined time. Here is what I envision for a virtual round table:

Having found a way to create a way for several people, perhaps dozens or more, to link up on the web via an instant messaging or Twitter type setup, we would allow the keynote “speaker” to post their remarks (either a paper or other prepared text) in the form of a document or podcast. We would read the text, or listen to the podcast, and then post our comments and questions to the “speaker” via the instant messaging format and basically engage in an online discussion on the topic and other items.

There are several benefits to this format. First, this round table would be a mobile entity that would only be limited by a person’s ability to access a computer with the necessary components to link to the round table. Second, its mobility would allow the round table to have members from a wide range of places around the nation and world. Third, it would be relatively cheap, if not free, as the only costs incurred would be those possibly needed to create the setup for the round table. Finally, it would hopefully bring about the increased use of the web for discussing and promoting the study of the war.

I would like to gauge the feelings on this idea, so I have added a poll to allow you to vote on the idea. I also welcome your comments and feedback, especially if you would like to help with this project.

10 thoughts on “A virtual Civil War Roundtable?

  1. Pingback: Update on virtual Civil War Round Table « Civil War History

  2. We consider The Civil War Forum an online Civil War Round Table — this group has been around for about 18 years, initially as one of CompuServe’s forums, but now hosted by Netscape (after AOL bought CompuServe). You have to sign up for a screen name and password, but it’s free, and does not require any confidential information. Because we’ve been around so long, the “culture” in our online CWRT has everyone using their real names, though that’s not required (it was long ago established that communities of people who don’t hide behind anonymous handles are more inclined to be civil, but the forum is moderated in any case by volunteers).

    We have ongoing discussions in the message boards, and two chat rooms for live events. Thus far, we’ve held over 30 author / historian Q&As in the chat room, and people log in from all over the country (including some members in Canada and the UK) to pose questions to our guest. We post transcripts of these sessions, along with photos, reviews, and other documents, in our forum library.

    We also have an annual “reunion” — our Battlefield Conference — in which about 30-50 of us gather from all over the nation for 3 days of tours and talks.

    Drop by for a visit sometime: http://community.netscape.com/civilwar

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