I’m something of a latecomer to the Twitterstorian party. I first joined Twitter in March 2009, unsure whether or not it was something I’d really ‘take’ to. This scepticism is evidenced by my first ever ‘tweet’ which tentatively proclaimed that I “remained unconvinced by this Twitter malarkey”! Shortly afterwards I set up a separate twitter feed for my blog ‘The View East’ here. However, it’s only really been during the last year that I personally have become regularly active on Twitter, and only actually a few weeks since I joined the Twitterstorians – a network of historians on Twitter compiled by fellow historian Katrina Gulliver (@katrinagulliver ).
My contacts on Twitter initially consisted of a small group of friends, acquaintances, mainstream news and media outlets and links to other websites and organisations of interest. It did cross my mind that there may be some other historically minded folks out there ‘tweeting’, so I did the odd cursory search for keywords like ‘history’ and ‘historian’ and over time, I stumbled across a handful of other historical and academic types.
Katrina Gulliver had also wondered about the possibility of connecting with other historians on Twitter, but took a rather more proactive approach, first asking the question “where are all the historians on twitter?” one year ago today. Over time, the initial trickle of responses to her question became a flood. To date, there are over 200 Twitterstorians and the list is still growing. The Twitterstorian network ranges from professional historians and full time academics to amateur historians and those who consider their love of history simply as a hobby, covering topics ranging from the local to the global and spanning the medieval to the modern.
Over time I’ve come to view Twitter less as ‘just another alternative to Facebook’ and a way of wasting a few minutes during my morning coffee break and more as a potential tool for global networking and information exchange. Following Twitter feeds by organisations such as Times Higher Education (@timeshighered ) and Guardian Education (@GuardianEDU ) and publishers such as Routledge (@RoutledgeHist )and Ashgate (@ashgatehistory ) is a quick and easy way of keeping up to date on the latest updates, ideas and publications relevant to academia. This can equally apply to other areas too – during the May 2010 UK election and the uncertain political climate in its aftermath, I found Twitter by far the most effective and up to date tool for following developments in ‘real time’, following feeds from @bbcbreaking and @tweetminster .
Thanks to Katrina’s efforts, historians such as myself have been able to benefit from linking up with others working on both similar and unrelated areas of historical research. As a result I’ve been exposed to interesting articles, blogs and concepts and ideas that I probably wouldn’t have come across otherwise. For me, over the last year, Twitter has been transformed from an occasional interest to a networking tool and an almost daily addiction. In part this is down to the contacts I’ve recently made through the Twitterstorian network. And it’s not all work related – I’ve also enjoyed exchanging thoughts on music, literature and a range of other topics with other like minded folks.
So, why not come and join the party?! I’d encourage anyone with an interest in history to join the Twitterstorians. If you’re on twitter simply tweet at @katrinagulliver or use the hashtag #twitterstorians in your posts. Or, for a current up to date list, visit Katrina’s excellent website and search her ‘Notes from the Field’ section using the Twitterstorian tag. And finally, if you’re interested in modern East European and Russian history, don’t forget to check out @thevieweast and, if you’re interested, my own twitter feed @kellyhignett
Happy Anniversary to Twitterstorians – one and all!