Confessions of a novice tweeter

photo of poster

Novice tweeter Dee Harris attached this photo to her first tweet from the 2014 NCPH conference in Monterey. Photo credit: Dee Harris

I’ve never considered myself a Luddite. I’ve had a smartphone for more than eight years, I occasionally post to Facebook, I’m signed up for a few blogs, and an e-reader has completely changed my reading habits. But when it comes to the fluttering noises of the little blue bird known as Twitter, the Luddite in me comes out. What useful information could actually come to me in the form of 140 characters or less? Do I have something to say that others want to read? I could never wrap my head around Twitter and why others found it so useful, so I just ignored it. At least I tried… but then came Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake hashtagging on national television. Next, my 13-year-old son started adding verbal hashtags to everything he said. The final straw, however, was the National Council on Public History’s twitterstorm around the 2014 Monterey conference. Continue reading

All the news that fits: The view from where I sit

mosaic of typesetter

Typesetter, John A. Prior Health Services Library mosaic mural, Columbus, Ohio. Photo credit: Ehschnell at en.wikipedia.

For quite a number of years now, I’ve been one of the people involved in gathering and disseminating news about the public history field through the various channels of the National Council on Public History:  the H-Public listserv, the News Feed here in the Public History Commons, and the regular emailed updates that go out to NCPH members.  More or less once a week, I cull through other listservs, submitted announcements, and odds and ends that come to us through various professional and social networks and try to reduce the pile to a more or less digestible-sized list of professional opportunities for public historians.  Sometimes this feels like a purely clerical task (there’s a lot of cutting and pasting involved!) but every once in a while I realize what a valuable and broad perspective it’s given me on our ever-evolving field.  In return for those hours of cutting and pasting, I get an ongoing education about what people are doing “out there” and how a very wide range of practitioners are putting history to work in the world.  Here’s how things look to me at the moment. Continue reading

“Illuminating” the Legacy Concept in Higher Education

In this election cycle, like just about every previous election cycle of recent memory, the role of higher education in improving society has been raised and debated. The past sixty years have seen unprecedented growth in the higher education sector, with a proliferation of for-profit and distance-learning options supplementing established research universities, liberal arts colleges, and community college programs. (For a more comprehensive, but not exhaustive, look at the history of higher education, see John Thelin’s A History of American Higher Education).

This growth, coupled with an ever-increasing pool of student applicants, has created a situation in which institutions of higher learning must distinguish themselves from each other in order to attract qualified students, and “alma maters” must compete with other deserving charities for the discretionary spending of alumni in order to maintain and improve programs to sustain this high level of competition. The result is the advent of a highly sophisticated marketing program! But what can a particular institution of higher learning market beyond widely available and sometimes stultifying statistics? The answer is something very familiar to public historians and historic preservationists: heritage. Continue reading