Cole Hale’s 4/10 Post

Social media is strangely becoming one of the most shared items among people. I use various social media platforms, as does my nearly 60-year-old mother, as does my 9 year old cousin—in fact, the president is known for his Twitter ramblings. Why not try to adapt this platform into the world of history? The capabilities of social media have been recognized so much that, as Ana Stevenson points out, the American Historical Association even created a set of guidelines for historians to become more effective tweeters!

The intertwining of social media hits especially close to home for me, as it has contributed a great portion to my own research. I began by “friending” a musician from Haight-Ashbury during the mid-1960s, and soon began messaging his other “friends” about their experiences living in San Francisco, giving me an excellent collection of sources to pull from. Another way I have seen social media benefit someone in the history field is during my undergraduate years, the potential of Twitter was starting to be realized, and we had a guest speaker come in to talk about how, if I can recall the story correctly, she became an archivist at CNN. In short, she started following the head archivist at CNN and after a few history and political oriented post, she eventually got followed back by the head archivist. Upon graduating, the head archivist informed her and asked her to apply through Twitter, and she got the job.

I found it rather difficult to find a historian who has a website. My favorite historians either have pages on the faculty sites at the universities they teach at, and/or pages on their publisher’s sites (which typically provides the same information as the faculty, except a “Buy the Book!” link has been added). One of my favorite historians, Kevin Kruse, does have his own website found, naturally, at www.kevinkruse.com, however it is also dedicated almost entirely to his books, like the publisher websites—in fact, his publishers’ site is far more user friendly and I’d recommend it over his personal site.

Labor History

Browsing through some of the more traditional sites by historians, I have noticed a trend in promoting the use of prose to gain readership and followers. While this is the bread and butter of the historian, I also believe that there is another avenue that is overlooked, the archival historian. Lincoln Cushing is an archivist with a keen interest in labor history with a global perspective. His personal site, Docspopuli documents his career as an labor history poster archivist. He professionally digitizes large prints in a home studio with professional set up for lighting, photography. As a result, his works has been featured across San Francisco and published works. His posters range from labor history in the United States, China, South America, and Cuba. Some of his works and political posters are published on his site here. He is open for requests and permissions to reprint the works as well. He has previously worked as a librarian at the Bancroft library and archivist for Clorox. For the past 9 years, he is Kaiser Permanente’s archivist.

-C.Le

Twitter

For better or worse, social media has become a major part of late-stage capitalism this brave new digital world.  Twitter, that land of the 140-character tweet and disjointed Presidential ramblings has emerged as a pretty useful tool for historians; Ana Stevenson’s 2016 article, “How Can Historians Best Use Twitter?” is a very handy guide.  She points to the American Historical Association’s 2011 five guidelines for professional historians to get the most out of this particular platform: 1) follow organizations, 2) use hashtags, 3) tweet (and retweet) conferences, 4) Share resources, and (perhaps most important?): 5) job searches.  In addition, she also offers some tips as to the best way to frame URLs and photos for the Twittersphere to maximize their impact.  The question that needs to be asked then, is how successful have historians been at creating the kind of Twitter connections that Stevenson writes about?  Vanessa Varin has a pretty good estimate in “Mapping the History Twittersphere”, were she presents visual representations of the Twitter connections between #Twitterstorians, compared to more broad categories like #History or #PublicHistory.  Her findings are striking: there is a dense, interconnected network of Twitter users (Tweeters? Twits?) bound by the hashtag #Twitterstorians; the connections are nowhere near as interlocking when she compares #History.  The hashtag #PublicHistory, while comprising a smaller user base than #Twitterstorians, still exhibits the same network characteristics, albeit on a smaller scale.  Although this proves that there is a strong community of like-minded professional historians, is that leading to more research and collaboration via Twitter, or because of Twitter? As Varin asks, “Are we actually connecting with one another and exchanging ideas, or are we merely tweeting in a shared space without any meaningful discourse?”  She does not have an answer.  The benefits of Twitter are pretty obvious: it’s a great platform to drive potential customers to your work.  The 140-character tweet drives the public toward the 1000-word blog, which in turn points to the journal article or monograph at the other end of the spectrum, but is that all that it’s good for?

Tweets and Stuff

This week we we are discussing the pros and cons of Twitter and other forms of social media presence that historians (and academics) may choose to use. I’ve had my own Twitter account for several years, but have just begun to really enjoy Twitter over the last year. I’ve started following historians and other academics whose research interests are similar to mine, as well as some professional organizations and other random people whose work I can follow via Twitter. Twitter is an interesting space for academics because it opens them up to discourse from/with the general public. For instance, Kevin Gannon and Kevin Kruse, both very active on Twitter, often converse with completely random people as well as popular culture icons (like Chrissy Teigen!!). The benefit to this is that it opens up conversation across people–possibly making the “ivory tower” seem less “ivory tower-ish” and more like a local coffee shop (maybe?). However, the problem with this can be when these relatively known historians start debating with people who don’t know what they are talking about. It seems to amplify voices who (imho) shouldn’t be amplified.

But that aside, a really cool thing I’ve discovered about Twitter is the amount of people you see. Facebook has been the space where I hung my social media hat for a long time, but it is easy to be isolated on Facebook. I’ve noticed that I see a lot of people on Twitter who I wouldn’t have followed if it weren’t for the fact that one of my virtual Twitter friends has liked or shared something. I’ve found historians, academics, clever people, complete trolls, and other entities through this method than I ever could have if I’d just tried to find “interesting” accounts on my own. What I’m saying is: Twitter can be a really good place to amplify voices and ideas, as well as meet new people (virtually) and hear voices from all sorts of places and ideologies.

We were also instructed to find a website for a historian and I found one for Kevin Gannon, who I first discovered in the documentary “13th” and found later on Twitter. Here is a link to his website: https://www.thetattooedprof.com/about/

A quick overview: the homepage is his blog space. Here he writes about what he is doing professionally but also often links interesting Twitter conversations and Tweets. He is VERY active on Twitter, so this doesn’t surprise me. His posts/blogs are very random. The most recent is from December 2018 and then a few in the months preceding. It looks like he probably spends more time Tweeting than blogging. The “About” page is exactly what you would expect. Here he has a bio, CV. and link to contact him about speaking engagements, etc. The Courses & Teaching link is my favorite because he actually provides syllabi for his most recent courses. There is a list of 10 or so syllabi. This is a really nice source–it helps to see what other people are doing when they organize classes, so I’m very happy about this. Finally, he has a page titled “Talks and Presentations” where he describes his research interests as well as any upcoming talks.

His website is clean, easy to navigate, and has little to distract you (I HATE going to websites with lots of ads or pop-ups!). It works well as a place to learn about his research interests and expertise. I’m not sure it works as much more than that. He does have a blog page which could be interesting if used more, but I think he’s basically transitioned to being a “twitterstorian” more than anything else. He does not have a space I can find that lists his publications. I like that Brandon Byrd has that link–it’s helpful to look at some of his work right in one place. Natalia Petrzela’s site is the most sophisticated. It doesn’t even look like an academic’s site. I like her videos and links to her podcasts. It’s also convenient how she has an Amazon link to buy her books. This website looks like something for a celebrity more than an academic, to be honest. I’m not sure how I feel about that (it probably shouldn’t matter).

I think in the end, what works is what you’re comfortable with. If you want to market yourself online, then you’re going to have to put the time and money into having a sophisticated website that people can maneuver easily and get all of the important information. I think having publications on the site is helpful, even if it’s just a title with a short description of the work. If you’re doing anything digital (like regularly tweeting, creating podcasts, blogging, etc.) then those need to be linked in your website so people can find you. I’ve heard from many people in the job market that having a website is important. Apparently job committees will look for a website. I’m not sure how I feel about this because it can take away some of the anonymity that comes with a paper application (for instance, most people are going to have their picture on a website), but maybe that’s just the world we’re living in now.

4/10 Response

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.

https://gshaya.voices.wooster.edu/

– Jocelyn

April 10 – Bosley

This week’s readings focused on the use of Twitter within the realm of history. As someone who is not as savvy when it comes to using Twitter, I was really impressed in the ways that historians have recently been using this platform to engage with colleagues and peers to have meaningful discussions on a wide variety of topics. Furthermore, it was interesting reading about the ways that scholars have adapted to this new form of technology and created was to cite these sources. It was also nice to see the visualizations of interactions that take place through the use of hashtags, not only does it accurately show the usage of specific tags, but it also can shed light on the ways that communities are formed in imaginary spaces, online. Additionally, I wonder how this could also intertwine with the question of preservation especially on a platform that could be taken down. Thus, I wonder how historians are planning or discussing archiving tweets and logistics of this process. Also, the article by Sarah Perry was also fascinating because it made me think of how one can define beauty and how material and inanimate objects can be used to construct that definition.

 

As someone who has past experiences in web development, it was fascinating looking at the websites that were suggested. I really liked the way that Dr. Byrd’s website was styled with the website structured in a horizontal way rather than the usual vertical design. I think my only problem with the website was the amount of text on certain pages. For example, the CV page was very long, I feel like it would have been better to highlight certain things and then direct people to a pdf rather than trying to display it all. I also really liked the video on Dr. Petrzela’s home page, it was really nice and seemed to culminate all of her documented work. I think the one thing that was difficult was navigating through the latest blogs and her recent work on the bottom of the page because it took a long time to refresh the page. Additionally, I wish that her links would open a new tab. Overall, I really enjoyed looking at these websites, and it gave me some ideas on ways that I could build my own site.

 

The websites that I am hoping to show in class are as follows:

Dr. Katherine Holt, http://www.katherineholt.org/

  • Although I am somewhat biased because she was my professor, I believe that her website shows not only her research and accomplishments but also allows for the user to be able to see the work she is continuing to do by opening up the site with her blog as the home page.

 

Dr. Jessica Johnson,  http://jmjohnso.com/

  • I believe her website is easy to navigate and allows one to quickly browse through her work. Furthermore, it’s a very simplistic design and does not detract from the content of her pages.

 

Social Media

I use social media all the time in my daily life. I arguably look at it too much throughout the day, as I’m sure a lot of us do. And while there are a lot of frivolous things and funny content online and particularly on Twitter, I find social media to be a great place to learn things as well. Through sharing articles, research, statistics, and photographs, Twitter can serve as space to incorporate daily learning. By utilizing Twitter, many historians are able to share real information, promote their research or expertise, talk about their upcoming projects, and correct false information as it happens. In this way, I find the platform of Twitter to be an interesting space for learning. Yes, it is limiting. It has character limits and has an informal style, but through the use of threads and linking articles, a lot of information can be relayed in a more succinct manner. For many people, who do not spend their time going to school for history or reading history books for fun, a succinct and concise history lesson is effective (honestly, it’s probably effective for those of us who are studying it more formally as well, as it can concisely get to the thesis or root of an issue in a clear way if done correctly).

The articles discuss the limits and the effectiveness of this platform, as they talk about the importance of keeping the information in the character limits and linking to articles with context, but one thing that I want to point out as a positive of the #twitterstorians internet presence is the ability to in real time debunk false information spouted out by public figures, right-wing pundits, or just the average layperson. There is a video going around of Candace Owens, a conservative pundit, testifying in front of a Congressional committee where she says that the “Southern Strategy” was a myth. This video was circulated around Twitter and is roundly being contextualized and corrected by actual historians, who are rightly correcting her and calling her out for this false information. This is a great way for historians to be on the ground level, so to speak, of public discourse. In correcting false information that is being publicized by non-historians, historians are using their knowledge, their scholarship, and their years of training to reach a broader audience and to be engaged in real time in the rewriting of history that happens. This would be much harder to do without Twitter and I think is a great way to utilize social media and a way to bond historians and the profession as they come together and use evidence, scholarship, to call out false information and demystify the profession as a whole.

I like Carol Anderson as a historian and her website is, in my opinion, very sleek to look at and well done. https://www.professorcarolanderson.org/

Julia templeton

Website Observations

I reviewed a couple of historian’s websites, and I wanted to talk about some of the main features I found on the sites that I reviewed. I also viewed the recommended sites for this week’s readings and compared them to the two others. While my categories of content and issues are not extensive or exhaustive, they do reflect what stood out for me while reviewing these sites.

Humor

I saw a lot of humor on most of the sites run by historians. Usually, it was self-effacing, such as a post category of self-important think piece on one site. I do this, or I try to do this like I really work hard to be funny, so I tend to think that it is a good thing for historians to do in their online writing. It can make us more approachable. The only issue might see with types of humor that will undoubtedly offend potential readers. Then does that mean we should censor ourselves or find some sort of bland style of communication? I know I have had internal debates about what is too much or too far. I do not think I have a good answer yet.

Talks, Presentations, Publications, and Merchandising

Well, there was not any merchandising on any of the sites, but I did see the self-promotion. That is not a bad thing. These sites are kind of dynamic CVS and more powerful tools for “branding” historians. That is what the field needs more than anything. We need to put ourselves out there to be seen, searched for and heard. One thing I did notice is that from a marketing standpoint, we still need to do more. Googling “historian blog” does not produce any sites that were created by historians. This presents a problem. Historians are technologically buried by the machinations of the algorithms. I would imagine if you google “X history” you will not find a site run by a historian in the first results page. So there’s probably a need to discover methods for optimizing our websites to help potential readers find our work.

Bad Design?

I know I’m being a bit salty, to use the vulgar language, but one stand out feature among websites run by historians was that many of them had either awful design, dated design or no design at all. This is probably a silly complaint to have, but I go back to the purpose of conducting digital history. The root of that purpose is to reach a wider audience. I know design skills are not easy to acquire, and it is one more set of skills we are expected to have in addition to the ever-increasing list of things that the modern person should be able to do. For example, noted historian Kevin Kruse, who is spending time doing useful work taking down D’Souza, the site has extreme accessibility problems. The color used in the navigation bars is hard for a person like myself to view. Imagine what someone differently abled would experience trying to see it? Others look ok, but it is something we need to think about.

http://www.thetattooedprof.com/
http://kevinmkruse.com

Project Proposal

For my project, I am thinking of using WordPress to make a page (or several based on categories) documenting the evolution of architecture in St. Petersburg, Russia, as Peter the Great built the Great the city from the ground up with Western-styled architecture in mind. Plus, the city is fairly young, so I should be able to note every style between Peter’s neoclassical vision and Stalinist remnants and modern buildings. As St. Petersburg was once the capital city of Russia and still one of the largest, bureaucratic establishments should be aplenty in both the past and today. Also, since it was the site of a major battle in World War II, it would also be worth it to look at how damaged buildings were either rebuilt or scrapped in favor of Joseph Stalin’s architectural vision. This project will be visual of course, as I would use pictures of buildings and landscapes, either in their current state or from the eras that they were constructed. Pages will be organized by category, based on notable landmarks, government buildings, banks, museums, churches, apartments, and maybe retail buildings. My sources will most likely be where I pick my images from, but commentary will be derived from books, academic journals and documentaries.

Leonid Lavrov. Architecture of the Admiralty in St. Petersburg as the Main Part of the Shipyard Developer Project. Academia: Arhitectura I strotelstvo, 4 (2018). Russian Academy of Architecture and Construction Sciences.

Vsevolod Shvarts. Leningrad: art and architecture. Progress Publishers (1972). Moscow.

Dmitrii Shvidkovskii. St. Petersburg: Architecture of the Tsars. Abbeville Press (1996). New York.

Colin Amery. St Petersburg. Frances Lincoln. London. 2006.

Katya Galitzine. St. Petersburg: the hidden interiors. Vendome Press. New York. 1999.

Steven Maddox. Saving Stalin’s Imperial City: Historic Preservation in Leningrad, 1930-1950. Indiana University Press. Bloomington. 2014.

Galina P. Chudesova. Architecture During the Epoch of Peter the Great (1703-1725). Conservation Science in Cultural Heritage Vol. 17, Iss. 4, p 149-167. University of Belogna. Belogna. 2018.

Leonid Lavrov. The Phenomenon of the Saint Petersburg variant of the regular city. Architecture and Engineering Vol. 1, Iss. 1, p 31-39. Saint Petersburg State University of Architecture and Civil Engineering. St. Petersburg. 2016.

Vozniak Ekaterina. Transformation of the column order in the Baroque architecture in St. Petersburg of the XVIII Century. MATEC Web of Conferences, Vol. 193, p 04020. EDP Sciences. 2018.

Voznyak Ryurikovna. Interpretation features of classical orders of Vincenzo Brenna in the architecture of St. Petersburg of the late 18th century. Vestnik MGSU, Iss. 4, p 15-25. MGSU. Moscow. 2015.

Leonid Lavrov. Disappeared Historic Open Spaces In The Center Of Saint Petersburg. Architecture and Engineering, Vol. 3, Iss. 3, p 10-21. Saint Petersburg State University of Architecture and Civil Engineering. St. Petersburg. 2018.

B.M. Kirkov. St. Petersburg Neoclassic Architecture at the beginning of the 20th century. Stylistic Succession in the city Development. Seriya: Stroitelstvo I Arhitektura Vol. 31, Iss. 50, p 256-260. Vestnik Volgogradskogo Gosudarstvennogo

Arhitekturno-Stroitelnogo Universisteta. Volgograd. 2013.

Charles Ward. Moscow and Leningrad: a topographical guide to Russian cultural history. Munchen. New York. 1989.

Catriona Kelly. St. Petersburg: Shadows of the Past. Yale University Press. New Haven. 2014.

-Alex Fedorov

Project Proposal

After a lot of mulling over, thinking, throwing away, and mapping out of what I wanted to accomplish with my digital project, I realized I was bogging myself down with the digital component more than the conceptual piece. What did I want my work to say? That should have always been the starting point, however I found myself trying to think too far ahead on ways to create a sophisticated digital project. With more confidence, I have decided to go back to what interests me most. For my digital project I will be creating a blog entitled “Crawlspace” centered around the sonic temporality of sampling as a site of fugitivity, resistance and memory. This will be an expansion of a paper I wrote for a course I took last semester. “Crawlspace” derives from Fred Moten when he wrote about how Harriet Jacobs, an enslaved African who escaped, hid in the crawlspace of a slaveowners attic to keep an eye on her children. Her fugitivity marks a symbolic reference to the shapeshifting of Black women as they renegotiate their agency through subjugation. Sampling evokes the crawlspace as a makeshift cloak of invisibility, hypervisibility, resistance, and temporality. As Black female voices are largely emplaced in the crawlspace of our favorite Hip-Hop songs, what do we make of it? What does the reverberations of manipulated noise say or fail to express? How do their sampled vocals reflect differently than in their original work?

This project will use WordPress as a site to hopefully allow this work to flourish, and reflect as an evolving, growing and in flux, blog. I will write four 500-word blogs on some of my favorite Hip-Hop songs that sample Black female singers to address its resistance, memory, subjectivity, and shortcomings. The blogs will also discuss the original song, and how it differs from the sampled version. Both songs will have a YouTube video embedded for readers to listen to as they read along. This project is more theoretical than historical, however I believe it can provide an enjoyable read for music buffs, academics, Black women largely, and those interested in Hip-Hop.

“Crawlspace” also highlights how production and sound engineering are largely male-dominated spaces, and the Black women so often rendered, sampled, and cut open, are literally underpinning the sonics of the music we listen to. So more importantly, I hope this work reintroduces people to the musicianship of Black female singers and the historical precedence their work presents to the genre of Hip-Hop. In accordance with the blogs, I will provide a playlist for mere enjoyment.

-Beza Fekade

Works Cited

Uri McMillan, Introduction: Performing Objects, In Embodied Avatars: Genealogis of Black

Feminist Art and Performance (NYC, NY: New York University Press, 2015), 1-21.

Alexander Wehilye, “Engendering Phonographies: Sonic Technologies of Blackness,” Small Axe: A Caribbean Journal of Criticism 18, no. 2 (2014), 180-190.

Fred Moten, Black and Blur (Durham: Duke University Press, 2017).

Ralph Luker, “Were There Blog Enough and Time,” Perspectives on History (2005)

Sadie Bergen, “From Personal to Professional: Collaborative History Blogs Go Mainstream” (2017)