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Hoisted from the Archives: Letter from Niccolo Machiavelli to Francesco Vettori

Weblogging and Scholarship

An item on my calendar for which I am not prepared looms out of the mists of time:

U.C. Davis History Department - Schedule of Events: Colloquium on Blogging and Scholarship: Date: Wednesday, May 23, 2007, 12:10, Andrews Room, with Tedra Osell, Scott Eric Kaufman, and Brad DeLong.

On May 15, 2007, at 3:57 PM, Eric Rauchway wrote:


Below please find a Google Map customized to show you how to get to the UC Davis History Department.  Please call me on my mobile at (530) XXX-XXXX if you have any questions or on arrival.  Please document your mileage and we will reimburse you.  I'm looking forward to meeting you.  Again, the event is at noon on the 23d.

All best,



And I write back:

Dear Eric--

OK. So now the questions:

The question of audience: Who will be there? What will they know? What will they expect?

The question of organizer: What, in your view, would people get out of a successful event? What do you fear would happen at an unsuccessful event?

The question of style: Would it be effective to read paragraphs from Frederick II Hohenstaufen "The Remarkable"'s Executive Order setting up the University of Naples http://delong.typepad.com/sdj/2006/06/an_early_studen.html, and from Niccolo Machiavelli's "Letter to Vettori" http://www.j-bradford-delong.net/movable_type/2003_archives/000006.html? Would people be amused to hear of Greg Clark's reaction on being awakened early in the morning by a phone call from upstate New York from somebody he had never met--a phone call that began, "I want to dispute your estimate of the weight of the medieval Scottish ox"? Would the audience feel a resonance with the idea of the Invisible College[1] or would they think that twee?

The question of interaction: We economists like to interrupt--to take it for granted that everyone in the audience is already familiar with the broad outlines of the speaker's argument, and to give them ten minutes (at most) to summarize before breaking in. Others do not--they prefer to hear set-pieces followed by reaction speeches.

The question of pre-meeting circulation: What pieces of paper can I send around beforehand that people will actually read? How much? How long?

The question of participants: I think I know who I am, but who are the other two people on the panel? Am I appearing with Tedra Osell and Scott Eric Kaufman, or with [signifier] and [signifier]? This is, I think, something like the difference between Humphrey Bogart and Rick Blaine...


Brad DeLong

[1] J. Bradford DeLong (2006), "The Invisible College," Chronicle of Higher Education Review 52:47 (July 28, 2006) http://delong.typepad.com/sdj/2006/07/the_invisible_c.html