Tweeting and Online Presence

Compare your digital persona to that of the bloggers and twitterstorians you have been following since the beginning of the semester. How do you present yourself online? How would you attract attention to your digital products? How can you harness the power of Web 2.0 to engage with and use your audience?
I’m wrestling with whether this is a difficult or a simple assignment. It seems difficult because my digital persona is limited to email and Facebook. It’s easy because …. see why it’s difficult! Since I’m not in Public History and don’t anticipate finding myself in the future in a position to that of classmates who either already are or will be “practicing” Public History, I see no real need to develop a more fulsome digital persona.
Frankly, my reaction to history-related tweets, including from twitterstorians (e.g., Jon Meacham, Doris Kearns Goodwin) and others (e.g., CCSU Historians, CTinWWI, CT Explored), is not enthusiastic. At the risk of an overstatement, my unofficial review suggests that something like 50% of tweets involve notice of recent or upcoming events, 30% involve esoteric or trivial information, and 20% include information I would find of interest and would follow up on by clicking whatever hyperlinks are included. My impression is that some organizations that tweet do so not so much because they value this channel of communication but because they feel they must tweet because their peers/competitors are doing so. Overall, I find getting information via Twitter to be like drinking from a fire hose!

While I believe my online info-gathering time is better spent on websites, all is not dark. I do see considerable potential value in a macro review of tweets, a 20,000 foot perspective of the universe of tweets, including identification and stratification of issues that are the subject of tweets, and what kinds of trends are identified from tweets from public and private organizations; professionals in various disciplines, including the field of history; and from citizens generally.

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