TwHistory: Creating Collaborative Historical Narratives with Social Media


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A presentation given at the 2010 Open Education Conference in Barcelona, Spain

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  • Single-button Follow – This functionality will allow learners to follow all of the historical figures by clicking one button, rather than follow each individual one at a time.-- We've created the concept of a 'broadcast' which makes running multiple historical re-enactments simple and let's users follow/unfollow a single account.Character Management – This functionality will allow learners to create and keep track of multiple accounts on Twitter.-- We've added character functionality including the ability to add name, bio and photo. Each character is linked to a Twitter account. Updating the character's information on the website updates their information and url on Twitter.Timed Tweets – This functionality will allow users to enter tweets for various characters, and have those tweets broadcast on a specific date and at a specific time.-- This is part of our broadcast functionality which let's users run a re-enactment via retweeting events from the figures involved.Spreadsheet Upload – Learners can populate a spreadsheet with date, time, tweets, and character, and then upload the file to our site. TwHistory would then take that information and populate the data into our Timed Tweet system-- Uploading a csv file into a re-enactment will generate all characters and tweets in the file. The re-enactment can then be scheduled for multiple broadcasts.
  • TwHistory: Creating Collaborative Historical Narratives with Social Media

    1. 1. Tom Caswell @tom4cam Marion Jensen @marionjensen Justin Ball @jbasdf Dr. Joel Duffin @oxtralite Rob Barton @robmba @twhistory Creating Collaborative Historical Narratives with Social Media Funded by the Talis Incubator for Open Education
    2. 2. What is Twitter?  Free status update tool.  What's happening? in 140 characters.  Messages are called tweets.  19% of American internet users are on Twitter.
    3. 3. The Big Idea  Attending conference remotely  Hundreds of people in the Twitter channel  Idea: Real-time, virtual, historical reenactments using Twitter
    4. 4. Objectives 1. Experience history from multiple perspectives 2. Gain a sense for the actual timing of events 3. Appreciate subjective nature of historical narratives
    5. 5. When History goes viral  Gettysburg reenactment  High School teacher followed  Used in Cold War History course Boo-yah!
    6. 6. Process 1. Establish community & communication
    7. 7. Process 2. Research & write tweets
    8. 8. Process 3. Combine all characters 4. Check timing & sequences 5. Schedule tweets 6. Serve and enjoy
    9. 9. Recent Reenactments  Gettysburg  1847 Pioneer Trek  Cuban Missile Crisis  Tweet The Exodus  Titanic concept piece
    10. 10. Future Reenactment Ideas  Lewis & Clark expedition  Apollo Missions 40th anniversaries  Titanic 100th anniversary
    11. 11. Features  Single-button Follow  Character Management  Timed Tweets  Spreadsheet Upload
    12. 12. Demo
    13. 13. Future Directions  Flexible rebroadcasting: compressible timelines  Use geolocation data to create reenactment tweet maps  Automate initial localization with Google Translate (crowdsource it from there)
    14. 14. Top 10 Things I Learned from TwHistory 1. There was a girl who really would stand at the bow of the Titanic after her nightly escapades. 2. Fort Bridger was just a couple small log cabins. 3. No one really won the Battle of Gettysburg. 4. Never leave the percussion cap on the hammer of your rifle. 5. If you don't burn towns as you march through them, the ladies treat you nicely. 6. Don't tie up the president’ horse within rope's distance of a sinkhole. 7. If you're considering deserting the army, be prepared to dig your own grave and then be shot in it. 8. Only 3 of the 4 smokestacks on the Titanic were real; the last one was decoration. 9. The best time to raid the enemy's camp is just when they're sitting down to dinner. 10. History can be fun and interesting.
    15. 15. Thank you Tom Caswell @tom4cam Marion Jensen @marionjensen Justin Ball @jbasdf Dr. Joel Duffin @oxtralite Rob Barton @robmba @twhistory Please visit us at