Tag Archives: Twitter

Is the historical blogosphere doomed to peter out?

A couple of years ago I took a grad course from a very tech-savvy professor.  A classmate asked him about setting up a blog for purposes of professional visibility.  The prof was dismissive.  “The whole blogging thing has pretty much run its course,” he said.  “Everything’s moving to Twitter.”

For my own part, I’ve become much, much more active on Twitter than here on the blog in the past couple of years.  We’re still chugging along here at PitP, but between a full-time gig running a museum and trying to write a dissertation, I’m doing well to crank out a post every week or ten days.  And just as I don’t have much time to write blog posts, I don’t have much time to read them, either.  I used to make a daily circuit of history blogs, checking in with my favorite writers every morning or during a lunch break, keeping up with whatever conversations were current.

On those rare occasions when I’m able to make my electronic rounds, it seems a lot of history bloggers are having the same problem I am.  Many of the sites I used to frequent have been dormant for months, especially the Civil War ones.  Civil War Memory is still going strong, but some of the old standards have apparently given up the ghost.  With so many folks blogging less frequently or ceasing to blog altogether, the sense of community across the historical blogosphere—of a conversation among like-minded folks—isn’t what it used to be.

Part of the problem is that most historians already have to do a lot of unpaid writing.  For a lot of them, blogging doesn’t even bring in the sort of professional, non-financial rewards they get from all this other uncompensated writing.  If you start something that requires time but brings in neither money nor professional cred, there’s a good chance it’ll be the first thing to fall by the wayside when you’re stretched too thin.

Personally, I’d hate to see the historical blogosphere dry up entirely.  I think there are itches that only a forum like this could scratch—discussions about the intersections between history and pop culture, informed but informal discussions about historic sites and museums, updates on preservation advocacy, and so on.  Those itches are still there, and I think it’s worthwhile for historians and history enthusiasts to address them.

By CrunchySkies [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, from Wikimedia Commons

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Now tweeting professionally as well as personally

Here’s a bit of news for those of you who are kind enough to follow me on Twitter as well as this blog.  In an effort to facilitate networking with other historians and institutions and to develop a professional online profile, I’ve now set up a second Twitter account for myself: @mlynchhist.  I’ll be keeping my aspiring-early-Americanist hat planted pretty firmly on my head while tweeting at that handle.

I’ll still be tweeting at my original Twitter account (@mlynch5396), too, and will probably cross-tweet most of my historical stuff there.  It’ll just be mixed in with my exclamations on dinosaurs, religion, news, regional matters, the human condition in general, and whatever else strikes my fancy.

While I’m talking Twitter, let me encourage those of you who read the blog but don’t follow one of my Twitter accounts to keep up with me on that platform, too.  A lot of the links and comments on American history that I would’ve posted here a few years ago now end up on my Twitter feed, so if you’re interested in what I cover here, I’d love you to join in on the rest of the conversation.

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Follow me as I commence tweeting into the void

I’ve always been reluctant to join Twitter. I’m so long-winded that I never thought I’d be good at it.  But when I contacted my advisor a few weeks ago to ask him about classes for my first semester as a doctoral student, he recommended I create a Twitter account and use it to keep up with what’s going on in my field.

So as of today, you can start following me @mlynch5396.  It’ll be just like this, only in smaller doses.

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LOL with JQA

File this one under “Signs of the Times.”  Somebody at the Massachusetts Historical Society noticed that John Quincy Adams wrote very brief entries in the diary he kept after his appointment as minister to Russia.  Next thing you know, Adams has his own Twitter account

They’re posting the diary entries on a daily basis, exactly two centuries after Adams wrote each one.  So far he’s still on his voyage across the Atlantic, headed to St. Petersburg.  Today’s entry: “9/7/1809: Head wind. Calm. Rain, Fog. Lat: 60-30. Long: 7-14. No Soundings. Phocion. Cato of Utica. Birds. Cards.”

Some entries are linked to a Google map marked with the coordinates he put down, so you can trace his voyage across the Atlantic as he tweets merrily away.  Pretty nifty!

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