Sept. 15: Public Engagement, Crowdsourcing, and Shared Authority

Being a public historian in the 21st century requires you to engage with many different audiences using a variety of platforms and media. Finding a tone and style that suits your personality and your intended audience is not easy.

How should we use digital media? Is it always necessary? What are some common (and potentially disastrous) mistakes we should avoid?

Have a look at these suggestions for working in the Age of the Digital Mess.

An Absolute Unit of a museum Twitter account. 

Consider, too, when campaigns backfire:  #campaignfail

Are public historians’ attempts to connect with youth online doomed to fail? Why or why not?

Consider Jason B. Jones, “The Creepy Treehouse Problem”, Chronicle of Higher Education, March 9, 2010.

Also have a look at the work of Tom Divon who studies Holocaust Remembrance on Tiktok.

Jason Steinhauer argues that social media and the world wide web is disrupting public perceptions and understanding of history in ways we may not realize. Peruse his book History, Disrupted: How Social Media and the World Wide Web Have Changed the Past (Palgrave Macmillan, 2022). Via library website or OWL.

Collaboration and Crowdsourcing

Read Serge Noiret’s chapter “Shared Authority in Online Collaborative Public History Practices” from Noiret, Tebeau, and Zaagsma, Handbook of Digital Public History (De Gruyter, 2022). (On OWL).

Crowdsourcing is a popular way to engage the public, preserve social memory, collect historical material and testimony, and create new and innovative projects and exhibits. Explore some of American Alliance of Museum articles on the topic and the Six Lessons the Getty learned in their crowdsourcing project.

Explore these other examples of Crowdsourcing and Preservation Projects:

Getting the public to help decode Civil War telegrams at the Huntington Library.

My own work with the UELAC plots the Loyalist Migrations using genealogies.