Vanessa Varin and Ana Stevenson both cover how to engage with historians on Twitter and the impact of the #twitterstorian community. Often when people discuss social media, it’s to somehow and in some way disparage millennials and gen z. However warranted that might occasionally be, social media is also a great way to share information and to raise awareness for issues and events. In an academic sense, this can be to reference other scholarly works, ask research questions, or engage in threads and hashtags for conferences, as mentioned in our readings. Social media collapses the distance between people who would not otherwise interact or meet, broadening perspectives and creating connections that would have been unlikely in the past. As far as networking opportunities go, Twitter provides endless networking possibilities, all without having to leave your house or place of work.
These connections do not spring from nothing though, as Ana Stevenson writes about. In order to engage more effectively, the American Historical Society has laid out a five step guide of how to use the platform and do it efficiently. While it is important to actively foster your network, creating your own content is also important. Mere creation is not enough if there is no visual appeal or hook though, such as attaching relevant images with one to two snappy sentences about the link. Stevenson also goes into the slightly more logistical aspect of Twitter when she provides a link to show optimal times to post to make the largest impact you can and reach the most people. People use this tactic on Instagram as well to ensure their posts do no get lost in other people’s feeds. Sharing your work and posting on twitter is a way for people to promote themselves, and so a lot of these tips are about how to present polished and cohesive posts to maximize their efficiency and engage people with history on a this social platform.
I particularly enjoyed Vanessa Varin’s twitter channel maps. When I was exploring at the page for the #Twitterstorian channel it was clear that there were frequent and diverse interactions taking place broadly across the channel. My favorite that I saw was someone asking for help transcribing a disease name from a letter written in cursive; sometimes you just need another opinion. The visual depiction Varin provides of how different channels and communities interact shows the depth of those different interactions. That map is messy and full of far ranging connections, illustrating how broadly people are interacting. Her map also considers conversation, so the interconnectedness does not spring from one-off interactions, but sustained and regular dialogue. It stands in direct opposition to the map for the #history channel, which is quite contained in comparison.
The historian whose website I looked at is Dr. Gregory Shaya from the College of Wooster. His website is not very expansive and is hosted on Wooster’s domain, but he utilizes it to give an overview of his research and interests, as well as provide a bit of information about himself as a person. In a sidebar he has links to other sites that include Wooster-related pages, but also different history blogs. Whether or not he has contributed to those blogs is unclear, but he is at least providing site visitors the chance to visit these blogs.