Week 11: Public History and Social Media

Social media has grown to be a full out phenomena that public historians are readily taking advantage of. Presently, I have accounts on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest and Snapchat but the ones I constantly use are Instagram, Facebook and Tumblr. I created a Twitter account for my digital history course and I have started following a couple of accounts since then and haven’t really built a following because I rarely “tweet” (currently have 82 unopened notifications!). I like retweeting posts, especially inspirational quotes that I relate to but lately with work and school, I haven’t really had time to scroll through and retweet new ones. Currently, the historical accounts I am following are: Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of ArtCT’s Old State HouseConnecticut HistoryCCSU HistoriansConnecticut State LibraryHistory In Pictures, CTinWWI, and of course Bernie Sanders!

My digital persona is completely different than these “twitterstorians” mainly because I find I would tweet more informal versus formal information such as museum exhibition events, event programming, or related narratives/linked articles for the CTinWWI or CT’s Old State House for example. However, this would change if I used my occupational platform to promote museum events like (Art After Dark: Gorey’s Worlds – 4/5!), upcoming exhibitions and films or sharing a painting to reminisce on a particular artist and its relevance in history today. This way, I would start posting more formal information that could be of value and use to the public much more than my regular informal daily life quotes/retweets. If I were to do this, the way I would attract attention would be by providing direct external links like the way I’m doing here and including media and relevant details and most importantly hashtags like the way the museum’s official Twitter account does now.

I find that doing this through Twitter would be more efficient than say through Facebook or Instagram (although both are still great for promoting events and posting media!) because Twitter has the qualitative aspect of the frequent use of #hashtags which is highly efficient in being able to find either a topic of conversation, artist, event, person, celebrity gossip, etc…you name it. I personally don’t have that much experience using hashtags but if I were to start using my account for promotional means I would definitely make sure to be on top in using relatable hashtag so users can easily find the information I’m trying to put forth. Most of the articles I read for this week’s lecture was based on the efforts of the Library of Congress in trying to archive every possible tweet since their announcement in 2006. Scholars and researchers would be the first ones to benefit from this if made possible because it would  be a valuable resource for their academic endeavors, however, so far it’s proving to be highly difficult!

One important takeaway from all the articles is that not only Twitter but social media in general is rapidly changing and keeping up with its pace can be quite tedious and more complicated than it might seem. With that being said, the level of audience engagement also changes on a constant basis because new interactive features are being created and each time these new features prove to establish a faster and deeper connection to the public audience such as retweeting and the inclusion of multimedia or even trending tags/#hashtags. The digital world continues to thrive and its fast-changing and innovative resource tool makes our social lives easier and more exciting but at the same time it makes us lose appreciation for face-to-face interactions, readings newspapers/books/watching tv or worse yet, taking the time to put our phones down and spend quality time with our loved ones at family gatherings. Our daily analog tasks are soon to becoming extinct!

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