H-Maritime and the Asychronous Learning Community: A 21st Century Thinktank

As globalization shrinks the world, scholars and researchers are faced with wonderful new opportunities-- and seemingly endless challenges. Can the internet be trusted to provide information that is factual, relevant, and verifiable? Can students be directed to appropriate resources on the web? How can the wonderful potential of the net be used to complement the tried-and-true tolls of historians and other social scientists and humanists: how can the web facilitate teaching and learning, scholarly activity and disparate research agenda? A solution to these--and other-- issues may lie in listservs, which bring together specialists, buffs, amateurs and professionals in a civil, germane environment. For some time, Michigan State University has maintained H-Net, an umbrella organization that houses nearly two hundred listservs-- everything from H- James Joyce to H-War. Recently, Cal Maritime professor Tim Lynch launched H-Maritime; in its first fifteen months in operation, it claims over 250 subscribers in 26 nations. This paper will address the potential, prospects, and perils of managing a listserv, and hopes to provide some perspective on how this tool can be used to further refine and develop disparate research agendas.