Wednesday, February 20, 2013

"The Limits of Blogging Are Defined Only By the Limits of the Blogger"

Keith Harris has a few ideas
Great line from Keith Harris at Cosmic America.

Check out Harris's post on the role of social media in bridging the gap between academic historians and the public.  Here is a taste:

Not all blogs are created equal. Academics who blog, and there are a number of first-rate bloggers, are successful precisely because of their openness, their consistency, their engagement with the commenting public (regardless of the comment) and of course, their historical content – often defined not by scholars…but by the public scholars seek to reach. Student-run blogs are also worthy of mention. 901 Stories from Gettysburg, for example, brings the voices of the battlefield to the public – all courtesy of the research of Gettysburg college students. The blog has its shortcomings (there is currently no forum open for discourse), but as it develops it is sure to become a wonderful platform for academics, students, and the public to exchange ideas.

Twitter is perhaps the most powerful, but alas, most misunderstood and misused tool. Many historians, historical institutions, and lay people alike miss opportunities to create and maintain informed conversations on historical matters (in 140 characters or less – believe me…it’s possible) by ignoring this communication powerhouse. Granted,Twitter can be a number of things – a platform for self-indulgent narcissists with too much time on their hands, or, it can be a media dumping ground – harnessed by would-be marketers for free advertising. Both fail miserably to reach anyone. But with patience and attentiveness, Twitter can (and does) facilitate discourse between academic and academic, academic and the public, and the public with everyone.

The History Department at Messiah College will be offering our first digital history course next year and there will definitely be a unit on social media. I should also add that the digital history course will be required for our revamped public history concentration.  Stay tuned.