Twitter – Dawn of the Digital Historians? Goodbye Academic Journals?

It is an interesting concept to consider social media as a new wave of sharing historical matter. We commonly link social media with the vague conception that it is chatting to friends, and posting unimportant statuses about how boring/great people’s lives are. However, why not consider the great Digital media as a new way of sharing ideas, which could benefit historians alike.

Twitter offers people of any background and profession, to share any material or point that they wish, it is open to all kinds of discussion and debate. In the modern day historian’s perspective, it is a great way of achieving feedback on ideas and concepts from a wider scale of opinions. Perhaps twitter is about merging the old with the new? Older historians maybe be reluctant to want to be part of twitter as they are used to the classic way of writing historiography, taking several months even years to write a piece, then waiting for it to be peer reviewed and edited before being considered a credible source. Twitter allows the latter historian to reach out to the wider perspective, sharing new ideas and even generate new ones at a pace far greater than any other form on communication.

“Writing a blog lets you reach out to an enormous audience beyond academia”.[1] In relation to Blogs, Twitter generates strong opinion, to a much wider community of followers. Historians are able to get information out there much quicker than before, which makes it a revolutionary age for the historian. It also favours a much more informal approach to sharing information with peers, this ideally due to dense writing deterring an audience whereas informal writing attracts a wider range of people to find an interest in. In another instance, what should be extremely attractive about twitter for an historian is the ability to pick the fields that interests them the most and grow within them communities, “think about the kind of community you want to be a part of. And think about the kind of results you want potential searchers to see when they look for your name. Remember that the more you use Twitter, the higher it will rank in the search results for your name”.[2]

In all belief, the days when waiting long months for peer reviewed work and ideas of concepts on your research topics are over. Twitter opens up a fast paced creative thinking machine, in which a historian has an assembly of sharers and future community in which ideas and research can be moved around at a speed much faster than the current process of peer review and publishing allows.

[1] Dan Cohen, “Professors, Start Your Blogs”, Dan Cohen (21 August 2006). http://www.dancohen.org/2006/08/21/professors-start-your-blogs/

(Accessed, 29th April 2015)

[2] Miriam Posner and Brian Croxall, “Creating Your Web Presence: A Primer for Academics”, Chronicle of Higher Education (14 Feb 2011). http://chronicle.com/blogs/profhacker/creating-your-web-presence-a-primer-for-academics/30458

(Accessed, 29th April 2015)