Historian 2.0: Finding the Past Through Social Media

From the PreservationNation.org Blog

I think, like it or not, social media is here to stay. We may choose to use it to obsess over celebrity, or catch up on our daily news but I’m often surprised at how much about the past I’m able to learn and examine through the likes of Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, and a wide variety of blogs. So here we go—here’s a day in the life of a historian in the age of social media.

8:00 am:  I’m on my way to work and I plug my iPod into my car or my headphones depending on my travel situation for the day. I key up my favorite podcast, one that reminds me of the art of storytelling and oral history that is so prevalent in our profession, despite most of the stories being of relatively recent times. Yes, it is the This American Life podcast—my favorite of which is this one called The Ghost of Bobby Dunbar.

10:00 am: After dealing with the most important work of the day, open up my Twitter account (@pc_presnation) and look at my feeds. It usually takes me about 10 minutes to see what I may want to read later at home, and what might be interesting to share with members. While I tend to tweet little historical factoids, I like how everyone has an angle and is coming from their own unique perspectives.

Who do I follow? @publichistorian, @history_book, @trustmodern, @historyfaculty, and of course @presnation, where I have access to lists of preservation Twitter feeds.

Noon: So around lunch is when I’ve got a little bit more time so I visit my Google Reader for the latest in the blogosphere. The blogs that I subscribe to are varied but I usually like to check out Preservation in Pink’s preservation photos, and the History Carnival, which works with other bloggers to showcase history posts on a common theme once a month. For instance, January’s History Carnival was hosted by Westminster Wisdom and took a Scroogesque theme for the new year. It was by reading @PublicHistorian’s blog that I was pointed to the 2009 Cliopatria Awards by the History News Network. These awards are presented at the American Historical Association conference every January and honors great blogs in the field of history. I’ve added Georgian London and A Historian’s Craft which won for this amazing post.

2:00 pm: It’s time for e-mail lists. While I am the moderator for Forum-L (the list for Forum) I also participate in a number of free lists from H-Net. Specifically I subscribe to H-Public (for Public Historians), and H-DC (which tells you about all things historical in Washington.) While these are e-mail based I like how I can send out one message and reach a ton of people at the same time, it often spurs great discussions.

4:00 pm: Around this time sometimes I need a break, so I check out the latest This Place Matters photos on Flickr or visit the American Memory collection from the Library of Congress to peruse the HABS/HAER collection. (Want to see some great images? Search for the Statue of Liberty or the Washington Monument. If you want to see something more local, try looking for your home town.) If you like this, also check out their  American Folklife Collection.

5:00 pm: It’s time to go home, but not before I take a scan through the National Trust for Historic Preservation fan page on Facebook to see what I need to think about for the next day.

Those are my social media habits. What are yours?

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