Monday, 9 January 2012

History and the Benefits of Twitter

As a recent convert to Twitter, I’m just learning the ropes but have already discovered how addictive it can be. I set up an account partly to network among heritage organisations, as well as to spread the message about the RAMA iPhone apps. (And maybe follow a few celebrities in the process, because that is essential for my career). In the past couple of weeks though, I’ve come to realise that Twitter is a fascinating resource – by following organisations such as English Heritage, the National Trust, Past Preservers and a variety of museums, you can get the latest information on upcoming exhibitions, links to history in the news or some great images that have been recently digitised. And they seem very popular – the British Museum (@BritishMuseum) for example has over 75,000 followers, all of whom are free to interact and tweet with the organisation. The History Channel (@HistoryChannel) tweets fascinating facts about what happened on this day, as well as firing off a number of quiz-like questions that their followers can answer. Historian Dan Snow @thehistoryguy) has over 25,000 followers, and frequently tweets interesting history facts covering a wide range of topics. Twitter has made me feel more connected to these heritage organisations, as well to history itself. In these short weeks I seem to have a better understanding of history in the news – articles covering history in education, heritage organisations and recent archaeological finds all make the cut. There are so many different accounts, and I think Twitter is a great example of how history can be brought back to the “people”. I’ve followed several accounts that tweet lines from Civil War soldier’s diaries, a great way to keep the memories of ordinary people alive. Twitter is a fast, effective way of engaging the public – it may be under 140 characters but you can write as many updates as you like. So, I’ll definitely be following more heritage organisations in the future – it’s a great way of feeling “in the loop”. 

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