About

“I was cradled in caricature”. George Cruikshank to Cuthbert Bede, c. 1870s.

I may not have been brought up with an artist-engraver such as Isaac Cruikshank  (1764–1811) for a father, but between Beano, Dandy, and the occasional Giles annual I was surrounded by cartoons as a boy. Today my research builds on the passion this upbringing fostered.

Cradled in Caricature is then a place for my thoughts on primarily – but not exclusively – history, caricature, visual culture, and the digital humanities, with posts ranging from discussions of talks, to snippets of ongoing research or summaries of my published work.

All views my own.

Contact:

james.baker[at]bl[dot]uk

Digital Research & Curator Team
The British Library
St Pancras
London
NW1 2DB

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Why I blog

A recent exchange with John Ford has caused me to reflect on the implicit assumptions I make when publishing on this blog, and whether or not those assumptions are shared by those who come across the content therein. I thought it worth repeating those assumptions here for my benefit as much as yours, though I’d add that doesn’t hurt to consider what you think you are doing (or not doing) from time to time and to make that visible to your readers.

A blog is a publication and my blog is an outcome of various research (and research related) activities. And yet I would never claim the work on my blog to be of a standard fit for peer review. Rather I blog to test ideas, to reflect on recent experiences, and to share experiments I have been undertaking. More often than not this takes the form of throwing out ideas, blogging for me as opposed to because I feel I should or for the purpose of fitting in with a schedule or a plan. The point of getting stuff out in this way, however rough, speculative or polemical it may be, is so that interested parties can comment on the work I’m doing, be that directly on my blog, on their blogs, via twitter, via email, at a conference or using any other mode of communication they choose. Discourse, as Cameron Neylon reminded us at a recent event, is the stuff of humanities scholarship, and when once upon a time this discourse took place in our corridors of power and our hierarchical republic of letters it can now be networked and democratised. I am passionate about researchers of all kinds sharing information and knowledge, collaborating through debate, and getting research out there throughout the research process (as opposed to jealously hoarding sources/data until they consider their perfect opus ready to depart from their clutches). And hence I not only blog but comment on blogs via blogs, blogging, twitter, email, conferences et al.

Which is why I don’t cite on my blog as I do in my published academic research, but instead I link to what is available on the network. For the link is the currency of the web and from Wikipedia to government reports is the currency of the information network. I anticipate that my audience want links that refer them directly and immediately to more information (and the click through stats confirm this), and so I enter my blog into those networks as opposed to an analogue network of referenced work which sits behind paywalls or has other barriers of entry. And I do all this under an open licence which allows anyone with an internet connection to share, reuse and remix my work as they please, so long as they attribute me and my original piece of work.

And this is why I blog.

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…some thoughts on digital history, cartoons, and satire.

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