Introduction: John Hanton

Hello everyone, I am glad to see a number of familiar names from last semester’s Historian’s Craft class. This is my second semester of my first year as an AU graduate student working towards an MA in History. I know that last semester I was almost alone as a general history MA with most other people doing the public history track, maybe the distribution is different for this group. Anyway, I did my undergrad work at Lewis and Clark College in Portland where I was an International Affairs major with a minor in History. I picked the IA major mostly because it is a field that combines various other topics that I find interesting including history, politics, geography, sociology, and others. I took the history minor more as an afterthought but it did introduce me to some of the ideas about historical thinking as well as research methods and archive stuff that became more important as time went on. I talked to an advisor at my undergrad school who told me that if I wanted to get a graduate degree I should go into a different area than my undergrad degree.

After finishing my undergrad work I decided to get certified to teach ESL (English as a Second Language) and I spent some time living and working in St. Petersburg. This experience gave me a great deal of appreciation for teachers and the crap they put up with. Anyone who has had to deal with a classroom of seven year old’s will know what I’m talking about. This is not to say that I had a bad time as a teacher, my classes and students varied but I did enjoy some really awesome students and teaching experiences. Living in Russia also made me more interested in that part of the world and the complex level of geopolitics involved that we are now seeing in the news pretty much every day. I would love to go deeper into the historical field of Russia and Eastern Europe in the future although I know the language barrier would be a problem. I have spent time studying and learning Russian but my skills are still fairly rudimentary.

Concerning this class, I am coming in as basically a novice when it comes to all the digital computer stuff. My older brother is the computer engineer in my family so he’s the one with all the tech skills in the family. As for myself, I have never blogged before now, I don’t have a Facebook or Twitter account, and as far as I know my online footprint is pretty small. That being said, I understand that more and more of the world happens online including historical research and publishing. As the saying goes, ‘the internet is forever’ pretty much anything put online will never disappear and it simply becomes a matter of being able to sift through the web to find things. The area that I am most interested in is how these new areas of human interaction and information transmission affect world events in real time. Again, this is a topic very much in the news as people talk about the spread of disinformation on online forums and how that can change the political calculus for a whole range of problems. I hope to get a better working knowledge of these different tools and how to navigate online spaces with this course.

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