Twitterpated (On Public History & Social Media)

In high school I had a US History teacher who would use the word “twitterpated” to describe feelings of excitement – he used it a lot while showing our class the 1992 classic based on James Fennimore Cooper’s The Last of the Mohicans starring Daniel Day-Lewis.

I couldn’t help but think of this word as I was benevolently forced to create a Twitter account for this class. I had avoided signing up for Twitter for years, as the short format did not appeal to me and I thought “tweeting” sounded stupid. However, after a few days I have found that the way Twitter allows user to aggregate information and updates from institutions and organizations to be extremely helpful.

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Obama getting Twitterpated

In addition, the availability of free social media platforms, such as Twitter, has greatly changed the ways museums and other public history institutions are able to interact with their audiences. After browsing the feeds of several historians and public history institutions, it was apparent that while social media can be a powerful tool for public history institutions to reach a wider audience and further their mission, organizations must use these platforms intentionally in order to actually have the impact they want.

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Garvey, “Scissorizing and Scrapbooks: Nineteenth Century Reading, Remaking, and Recirculating”

In New Media, 1740-1915, editors Lisa Gitelman and Geoffrey B. Pingree ask the question “What’s new about new media?” Through the collected articles, the editors investigate the historical context of “old” media (which was at one point new) in order to understand the different ways people have used various forms of media to frame the human experience.

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Vintage Scrapbook, Tulane Pubic Relations, Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain

Ellen Gruber Garvey’s article on the practice of scrapbooking in the nineteenth-century shows how people, especially women and children, used scrapbooks to create new media from old, reflect personal identity, and even participate in authorship without ever picking up a pen.

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