Podcasts & Twitter: Storytelling & Collaboration

The podcasts for this week all tell a unique story and incorporate interesting aural elements that contribute to the overall effectiveness and uniqueness of this medium. In the Radiolab episode “Fu-Go,” music and sound effects add intensity to the storytelling of the use of Japanese balloon bombs during World War II. In On the Media’s “Playboy Covers Up,” the inclusion of Hugh Hefner’s interview allows insight into his responses after being challenged on previous comments about women and the legacy of Playboy. Inviting guests who are directly involved in the subject matter or who are scholars on a particular subject can add legitimacy in addition to allowing for multiple perspectives on an issue to be included. For instance, the “Fu-Go” episode included writers, scientists, and professors to tell a well-rounded and detailed story. The podcast is a flexible medium and can be used to tell short stories or longform serialized ones; it also offers an opportunity to synthesize research and evidence in a unique format and to tell a story that might not have received attention elsewhere. As an avid podcast listener,I have to admit I often don’t think of the content as being historical in nature but rather, just a really good story. Overall, podcasts provide a unique medium for the sharing of history, and while they are growing in popularity, they do still seem to be serving a niche audience.

In “Why Historians Should Use Twitter” and “Five Ways for Historians to Use Twitter” the value of the platform as a collaborative space is presented. Many historical and cultural organizations have Twitter accounts as a means for sharing information on their resources, new exhibits or collections, and logistical information, like closings. Organizations like the Internet Archive often release information on newly archived collections via Twitter. Additionally, the use of hashtags can facilitate conversations and share information from events and conferences. Katrina Gulliver describes one of the most useful benefits of Twitter is its ability to allow users to meet others with similar interests. In my experience, all of these things are also true for using Twitter in the library field. Keeping up with conference hashtags can be especially useful when you are unable to attend the conference, and now it seems like a best practice to at least tweet a few times when you are attending a conference for those who might be following along via Twitter. Librarian groups also have scheduled Twitter chats centered around a theme or issue within the field, with a corresponding hashtag, that is typically facilitated by one or two librarians who ask leading questions to those following along. Participators are encouraged to answer questions (and to include the hashtag) but lurking is also welcome. For me, this has been a way to connect with and learn from other librarians. It seems natural that this would work for the history field as well; Twitter can be a place to begin conversations that can lead to research collaborations, conference meet-ups, and job opportunities.
Sarah Kirkley

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