—William Cronon, president of the American Historical Association. Also:
Perhaps most importantly, Wikipedia provides an online home for people interested in histories long marginalized by the traditional academy. The old boundary between antiquarianism and professional history collapses in an online universe where people who love a particular subject can compile and share endless historical resources for its study in ways never possible before. Amateur genealogists have enabled the creation of document databases that quantitative historians of the 1960s could only fantasize. In my own field of environmental history, I’ve long told students that gardens and cooking, which have only recently begun to attract the academic attention they deserve, have been studied for generations by serious antiquarians and amateur scholars (many of them women) whose interests were marginalized by a male-dominated academy. In the wikified world of the Web, it’s no longer possible to police these boundaries of academic respectability, and we may all be the better for it if only we can embrace this new openness without losing the commitment to rigor that the best amateurs and professionals have always shared more than the professionals have generally been willing to admit.
His advice for historians? “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.”