Twitter: A tool for historians?

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Traditionally, journal articles and academic conferences were enough to satisfy any historian’s need to express their arguments and findings. However, through the expansion of the internet and the growth of social media, it has now become even easier for historians to share their knowledge with the whole world. Twitter – founded in 2006 – is one of the many examples of a new platform which allows historians to breakthrough into the online world. As with everything, Twitter for historians, comes with pros and cons. Some of these include:

Pros:

  • Historians can publish information on the go, as Twitter is not limited to just a computer. It can also be accessed in app form on phones and tablets.
  • Historians are able to reach wider audiences for their work, as the internet is not permitted to just academics.
  • Through features such as the search box, #hashtags and retweets, historians are able to create and join conversations based around a certain field or subject in history.

Cons:

  • Many traditional/ older historians find the internet alien, especially to the modern ways of communication, suggesting they would be illuminated from many of the online debates and discussions between historians.
  • Twitter is limited to a 140 character word count, per tweet. Allowing only small amounts of text to be published at one time.

Overall, Twitter seems to be a good tool for historians to use as it can bridge the gap between academics and non-academics. Dan Cohen suggests that blogging can be a powerful way to provide “notes from the field” and glosses on topics that perhaps a handful of others worldwide know a lot about.

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