Twitter at EH+

If you’ve paid any attention to the news in the past two years, you’ve been bombarded with discussions of Twitter. This simple, 140 character micro-blogging platform, has become a part of our culture (@JUSTINBIEBER), our politics (@pmharper), and it helped ignite revolutions in the Middle East.

It also remains a major topic of derision and contempt. Firstly, the language is terrible; few of us want to hear news anchors use the word “tweeting” over and over again. Secondly, many feel Twitter is just another “social media” internet bubble: the flavour du jour, interesting for technical geeks, kids and CNN reporters, but not for serious academics.

I shared this opinion until this time last year. I used Twitter to help promote a website, but I found the short format awkward and I already had Facebook to learn irrelevant details about the daily lives of long-lost friends. I’d read Adam Crymble’s defense of Twitter here on the NiCHE website and created a personal account, but I was not really convinced, so I rarely logged-on.

Then I went to the Great Lakes THAT Camp (The Humanities and Technology Camp) and saw how the digital humanities community use Twitter for professional networking and as an important virtual component of their events. Throughout the sessions during the un-conference at least half the people in the room carried out a parallel conversation over Twitter. It was used to summarize the session for others (both those in different sessions at the workshop and for their followers around the world) and to share links or bibliographical references for websites or readings pertinent to the discussion.

After this event I was convinced to give Twitter another try and I’ve been a moderate Twitter user since then. During the past year I’ve noticed growing activity amongst historian on Twitter and I’m now connected with environmental historians in Japan, the United States, Canada, Britain, Italy and Sweden. The environmental history community has also started using Twitter at major conferences: during the past week I’ve been following the micro-blogging efforts of Finn Arne Jørgensen and Lauren Wheeler at the ASEH conference in Arizona (see the Twitter feed from this conference below).

We’d like to replicate the success of Twitter at THAT Camps and the ASEH during EH+, both to share the proceedings of our event with environmental historians not with us in Hamilton and to build a network between those in attendance. Please consider joining Twitter before you arrive and follow the hash tag #EHplus.

Twitter 101

  • Using Twitter for professional networking is easy. Create an account and then search for some fellow environmental historians. Here is an incomplete list of NiCHE members on Twitter. You can also look at who follows the NiCHE Account and connect with them.
  • Putting a hashtag “#” before a word in Twitter makes it a search term. Followers can click on the word and see all the posts using that term. For example, search #ASEH2011 or #envhist
  • Don’t feel obligated to check Twitter hourly. Once you build a network on Twitter you can sign up to websites that will track the links your network are sharing and compile them in a single webpage: See my Tweeted Times website as an example.

If you don’t want to join Twitter you can still follow the virtual component of EH+ through the NiCHE Website. We’ll posts the #EHplus feed on our website during the event for a real-time feed from the Workshop (see the feed from the ASEH below as an example):

Here is an example from the recent ASEH conference:

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Assistant professor of environmental history at the University of Saskatchewan.

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