Preparing for Week 2.

Our experiment has begun! Our Digitizing Medieval Manuscripts class met for the first time on September 10th and we got to know a bit about the fourteen of us. The students are mostly history students, but come from a wide range of backgrounds and preparations. I am super excited to be working with what looks like a super engaged group! From the constant notifications I’m getting from the various online resources we’ve set up on many different platforms, it’s clear that students are jumping right into the thick of things.

This week I want everyone to explore a bit. Instead of rushing to put up a profile, all should take a look at other profiles to see how others craft an image of themselves (e.g. their academic selves) online. If you want to see how others have theorized about online identity creation, take a look at the Pearson article in this week’s readings. Likewise, even if you’re already a Twitter aficionado, spend a few minutes each day reading through the twitter feed of the book history types to see how they write, discuss and interact with others. There is an element of both fun and seriousness in their endeavour, at times trying to entertain or amuse and other times to educate and advise. Your experience signing up for and exploring these two online spaces will provide the “primary source” of our discussion.

  1. For class on September 17th, try to identify one person on #medievaltwitter who has impressed you and be able to make explicit what about their style/ content resonated with you. Try also to find a profile on that helped you to understand its purpose.
  2. I find the twitter account @siwaratrikalpa particularly instructive about how #medievaltwitter can work. It is an officially anonymous feed, and students should read the explanation of their self-definition to understand why they remains anonymous and how/why they tweet about their research in the way they do. Ask yourself, for @siwaratrikalpa what is the point of twitter?
  3. Our readings this week ask us to reflect more generally on how academics (a catch-all term to describe professors, heritage experts, advanced degree students…) engage publicly on social media.
  4. Jesse Strommel’s post provides a strategy for how to develop a following. What is the key strategy he suggests? And if you were trying to build a following, what steps should you take on Twitter to be a good citizen and a follow-worthy tweeter.
  5. The “Manuscript the Tube” blog post from the British Library shows one successful way in which a large public heritage institution interacted with a large public (though largely academic). The goal was to be playful but also to get people using the digitized collection. What does this example show about social media use? What was successful and what not?
  6. Sarah Werner’s post (and please listen to her talk linked at the beginning of the post) dissects what not to do (i.e. what to do) in trying to increase public engagement with special collections. Figure out what you should take away from her ideas to craft your own strategy if you were a special collections curator.
  7. The two articles by Ricoy & Feliz and Pearson are more academic/ anthropological in their genre. Ricoy and Feliz are focussed on what makes Twitter useful for learning and what can make it problematic. Figure out what you should be doing to make the best pedagogical use of Twitter. With Pearson’s article, consider how being online allows choices in identity creation, and identify the advantages/ disadvantages of the “performing” identity on an online environment.

Good luck to all the students in getting prepared. I’m looking forward to an exciting discussion!

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