Why Historians Should Use Twitter

A few years ago, no one could have imagined how important social media would be with regards to entertainment, marketing, nor history. As with any new media, historians have managed to use it to their advantage.

In the article “Five Ways for Historians to Use Twitter,” author Elizabeth Grant discusses how historians can use the social media site Twitter, to their advantage. The article is obviously current, based upon its title. It seems that everyone has an article titles “10 ways to….” Insert list name here. Per Grant, historians are using Twitter to start conversations about ancient and recent history.  The first reason to use Twitter as a historian is to follow local (or distant) historical organizations. If one follows a certain organization, you can get updates on early closings, new exhibits, entrance requirements, tips for research, and reach out directly to the staff for quick answers. She offers examples of how other institutions utilize Twitter to their advantage.

Another common aspect of social media is the usage of hashtags to “brand” a post or comment that makes it easily accessible through searching. Though social media users have recently gone overboard with the usage of hashtags, they do serve an important purpose. Grant explains the use of hashtags as “…a way to associate yourself with a group.” She also offered an example of a popular hashtag for historians called #twitterhistorians, which I was not aware of.

Retweeting conferences from national historical institutions is also helpful to historians. Retweeting information presents news to a broader audience, which could potentially bring more traffic to your twitter page and the page of the national institution. It could also result in a larger audience. Using hashtags while retweeting is a good idea as well.

The fourth useful tool that Twitter offers historians is retweeting resources. Sometimes, historical resources can be difficult to find. Sharing information that you’ve found can assist fellow historians with interesting blogs, articles, or digitized documents that may be useful for research. Grant was wise to include this option in her list of Twitter usage.

The final idea she presented was Search for Jobs, which in the history field is probably one of the most important tools to use Twitter for. Historian jobs aren’t readily available to the public and posting them on twitter is quite helpful. Overall, though brief, Grant’s article is useful to historians. She may have wanted to add a few more reasons to use Twitter, but unfortunately a longer list may have lost her audience.

 

The third article “Fountain Drinks” appears to be a historical blog on the history of fountain drinks. This article was engaging as it included historical illustrations depicting the new-found fascination with fountain drinks. It also features a picture of John Snow, an important key figure throughout the article. The articles content itself is highly fascinating, since it seems to mess medical, science and history into one article. I found myself wanting to read more information and going online to Google a little more information on water fountains and their connection to alcoholism.

 

The third article this week is like the first article because it discusses why Twitter is so useful to historians. Katrina Gulliver, creator of Twitterhistorians, which happens to be one of the most popular historical Twitter accounts focused on tweets “by and about historians” (pg. 1). The article is written in a Q&A format with author Alexander Collie interviewing Katrina Gulliver about Twitter and why historians should use it to their benefit. The interview is very brief and Katrina’s answers are quite short and lacking in detail.

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