Prior to entering the PhD program at GMU and starting my Digital History Fellowship, I had little to no interest in Twitter. My opinion of Twitter centered around self absorbed individuals who liked to tweet images of their breakfast or update the world on their commute to work. However, I found myself creating a Twitter account on my first day of graduate school. In the coming weeks, I learned that Twitter has become a very active platform for academics, especially Digital Historians, in the exchange of ideas and information. Two great articles on the topic, Heather Cox Richardson’s “Should Historians Use Twitter, parts 1 & 2” as well as Ryan Cordell’s “How to Start Tweeting (and Why You Might Want To),” were both helpful as I crafted my Twitter account.
As a Fellow, part of my curriculum for this semester is to do a day of tweeting. While the other two in my cohort (Stephanie and Alyssa) tweeted about a day in a division, I thought tweeting a day at the CHNM 20th Anniversary Conference would be interesting. The attendee list included current staff, graduate students, alumnae and other noted scholars all gathering to discuss CHNM, Digital History and Digital History Centers. Not only would this fulfill my Fellowship assignment, I thought it would be a great experience live tweeting a conference.
The conference was great! There was a lot of great discussion on various digital history topics. I found the live tweeting to go exceptionally well. I noticed that I was listening to the presenters specifically to find a group point to tweet out. This made it harder at times to take notes but in a way, the series of tweets serve as my notes. Twitter served as a collaboration platform, when using the #rrchnm20 that everyone else at the conference used. It was also interesting to see the interaction of others who could not attend the conference but could interact online through Twitter. It was a very interesting exercise that I continued on day two as well.
Overall, my view of Twitter as increased greatly, especially from tweeting the conference. It adds another layer to scholarly interaction and allows for communication beyond the conference hall. Furthermore, it increased my network of scholars by finding new people to follow as well as others following me. My tweets from the first day of the conference are below.