Historians have made Twitter a forum for education and engagement. They coined the term Twitterstorians to describe the growing community of historians on Twitter. Museums and other historical associations and businesses also have Twitter pages. This allows the general public to engage with sites such as the Smithsonian and see their events but the personal accounts of Twitterstorians allows for them to use the platform as a medium for conversation and debate. It is used to promote projects and books and to collaborate with or seek advice from peers. The digital world has many opportunities for historians and those interested in learning about history. Twitter offers a unique platform for anyone to participate in and learn from the discussion. Historians are taking advantage of it and I am interested in understanding how they use it and what they are learning from Twitter.
There are also subcommunities within the broad Twitterstorians, for example, the hashtag #BlckTwitterStorians is used to help African American historians to connect and engage with each other as well as discuss how their cultures and identities interact with their work. These historians are creating the space they need for themselves to show their research and share their experiences as historians of color. Should there be other hashtags for other identities, such as female historians and female historians of color? Twitter has the medium to establish these other threads that do not have to interfere with the others but can be connected, providing a space for intersectionality.
From my inital observations, Twitterstorians do an excellent job at using the platform to connect with each other and create connections. However, I noticed that both professional organizations, such as the Smithsonian, and Twitterstorians do not use Twitter to its full potential in connecting with the general public. There are many ways to engage in conversations and promote educational infromation and events. Without doing any in depth research or having conversations with Twitterstorians, I believe they could take more advantage of what Twitter offers to its users. As it is argued in, “Why Wasn’t I Consulted?” by Paul Ford, people want to share their thoughts and feel like they are contributing to the discourse about topics in history and Twitter is a useful tool to do so, it is free and widely accessible to the general public. I do believe there should be a space to connect as professionals, without directing it towards broader audiences but Twitter offers the opportunity to do both on one platform. Should Twitter be said platform? Is there something else more accessible and better designed for historians?
As emerging professionals, we have all been encouraged to create Twitter pages to participate in these conversations. For my project, I am proposing interviews with Twitterstorians and analysis of their use of the platform. I want to ask them about why they use Twitter and if they believe it is effective for their work. Do they think Twitter engages the audience they are trying to connect? What do they feel are the downsides to Twitter? Twitterstorians can also offer advice as to whether emerging professionals should be participating in the conversations and what it can do for their careers. I would interview a few Twitterstorians but also create a survey that I could share to reach a broader audience of historians. My questions would include book recommendations, advice for emerging professionals, and reasons why they use Twitter and its effectiveness. Twitterstorians are proof of the growth of the digital world in the field of history and ways professionals are capitalizing on the new mediums available.