Print Project Proposal: #HistoricAnnapolis

Instagram Photo of Frederick Douglass at the Maryland State House in Annapolis

Living in a beautiful city like Historic Annapolis means that interacting with tourists is part of daily life. Whether they are coming in to town to for the Blue Angels Show, holiday events, or just to shop and dine, tourists are flowing in and out of town constantly. On any given day I can expect to give directions to confused travelers, offer recommendations for the best seafood restaurants, or simply shuffle out of the way so people can take the perfect picture of the colonial architecture and charming cobble stone streets. I often think to myself, “I bet those pictures are going straight to the Gram,” (Instagram that is.) For my print project proposal, I would like to survey the Instagram hashtag #HistoricAnnapolis, and analyze the ways that tourists, or anyone for that matter, have used the hashtag. In recent years, I have become interested in the tourism industry, specifically its relationship to historical interpretation, ethics, and representation. It would be interesting to see what aspects of Annapolis’s history people deem Instagram-worthy, and how those posts fit into Instagram user’s overall social media identity; are they a tourist or a local? Do they have some kind of project or business they are trying to promote? Are they visiting a museum of historic site, or just walking around the city?

I could execute this project by searching #HistoricAnnapolis, and looking at the first 15 posts under both the “top” tab, which show the most liked posts with the hashtag, and the “recent” tab, showing the most recently posted posts using the hashtag. Then, I could analyze each post, collecting data such as the content of the post and any information each user volunteers about themselves. I could also compare the post using #HistoricAnnapolis to the rest of their profile to gain a better understanding of their perspective on Historic Annapolis, and what they found interesting or Instagram-worthy about the city. After I collect as much data as possible, I could create a spreadsheet to organize the data with various graphs and charts to provide visual representations of the results.

Although this project focuses on one social media site and would only give us a small glimpse into how people interact with Annapolis and its history, it provides us with valuable information nonetheless. The results of a project like this can reveal demographical data about the people who engage with the city’s history, sites or narratives that are popular, and the ones that could use more interpretation and visitor engagement. As an Annapolitan myself who is familiar with the city’s history and interested in the public’s perception of it, determining what people find most interesting, relevant, and Gram-worthy would be a compelling project.

2 Replies to “Print Project Proposal: #HistoricAnnapolis”

  1. Historical tourism is such a fascinating field, often bringing in people who have fleeting interests in history, but who then return to their normal lives and forget much of what they learned or experienced. I’m so curious about what your data would tell you about how people are interacting with Historic Annapolis on social media, specifically Instagram, but I’m also curious about how these same people would discuss their experiences in the moment. What would happen if you were to talk to a person who had just taken a picture and uploaded it to Instagram? Would their mind be on whether they added sufficient hashtags, or would they be seriously engaging with the history they are interacting with? Combining your proposed research with some oral history could potentially tell us a lot about how tourists and locals alike are interacting with historic Annapolis!

  2. Hi Katie,

    I really like this project! I think it has the potential to be something that a wide range of folks could be interested in learning from.

    I think the idea of identifying a sample set of images and then using those to identify a sample set of users posting to the hashtag is going to be the best way to approach this.

    That is, the individual images are interesting, but everyone’s images on Instagram are part of a whole curated persona too. Ultimately, looking at how the hashtag works as part of peoples broader persona online is the thing that I imagine is most likely to be interesting.

    If you do delve into this as a project, I would suggest you broadly explore some of the literature studying Instagram photos. These articles could be starting points for some of that and and and

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