So I feel really very remiss about not blogging so long. Oddly enough, its not how I used to feel. "Back in the day" ...like a year ago...when I'd have a couple week hiatus from my blog for whatever reason, I'd feel guilty in a production sense - like I hadn't been kicking anything out and just letting ideas pile up and not get to them. Its different now.
I have really become quite addicted to Twitter (see graph, courtesy of Tweetstats). It didn't start out that way for me...when I first looked at Twitter, I Saw a bunch of "going to the store" and "I'm sad" kind of Tweets (that's what you call the micro-posts you put out on Twitter) and I really didn't want to keep track of all that. Now however, Twitter really seems to have hit an age where it is incredibly interesting. To be sure the "going to the store" crap is still out there but I have a higher tolerance for it and a better understanding of how to filter it. I say I have a higher tolerance for it now because it is usually mixed in with really great, thought-provoking posts from people I respect and I'll take a couple of "store" Tweets from them - its a positive ROI. On the filter side, I'm also learning the gentle art of the "unfollow" - that is electing to stop getting updates from a particular person in Twitter. "Follow" is what you do when you want to track what someone else is tweeting. There is a whole emergent layer of behavior that is being mapped out in real-time as people explore and probe at the edges of this new social environment. What is acceptable? What is not? Is it rude to unfollow? How about "locking" your Twitter account so you actually have to approve people who want to follow you?
Back to my feelings...Twitter is both a powerful and dead-on simple intake and output medium. 140 characters...that's it. Gotta love constraints for forcing creativity. So instead of blogging, I have been pusing a lot of stuff out via Twitter - stuff that I would be hard-pressed to make into a whole blog post. I've also been getting a great deal of feedback from that stuff that I sent out too. So much more feedback than blogging...I think that's really a key to the addiction is the immediate feedback...the feeling of actually being "in" a conversation instead of the monologue that blogging can feel like.
So I am going to try to blog more again...there is ROI in the longer form but if you really want to jump into the conversation, then follow me on Twitter. :-)
I've posted before (1,2) about the insane number of Twitter tools that are now available - with more and more coming online and a ridiculous pace. There are even a number of Twitter "How To's" coming online like this one from Webware.
Reflect on that for a moment. The 123rd annual meeting. 123 years. Impressive. The program itself is also impressive. Thanks to Twitter pal @nwjerseyliz who is attending the conference and who reminded me that the whole program is online.
I started digging through the program and I must say, having not been a grad student in a history program for a while or a practicing historian, the sessions make me miss it. I should also say that I think from a conference standpoint, its a remarkably well done and well organized schedule - conference organizers take note!
I've included a list of the sessions I found interesting below but I did just want to say why just reading this program made me a bit wistful for my old discipline. I know, just by reading the synopsis, how much work went into the papers being presented at these sessions. I know how important it is professionally to the speakers that they had a paper accepted at the AHA Annual Meeting. I also know that no matter if it is Bernard Bailyn or Gordon Wood that is presenting, there will be people in the audience who will challenge their assertions - vigorously.
As a discipline, history welcomes new ideas albeit with the caution to never bring a knife to a gun fight. By that I mean that as a historian, you know that if something you bring forward reaches that critical mass where someone else actually pays attention...then some of the toughest critical examination you have ever faced is sure to follow. Your conclusions will be dissected for bias. Your research methodology will be judged for its completeness. Your arguments will be tested for integrity and cohesion. Your very own original sources will also be judged to ascertain their worthiness as informers of the historical record.
So kudos to the work and effort and intellectual courage of the authors presenting at this conference. We may disagree but my fondest wish for the learning/training field would be that as a discipline, it can focus some of its considerable intellectual firepower on testing the foundational, canonical assumptions of events and levels and scales that we rely on daily to serve our clients and learners. I don't suggest that we should tear into theories or models simply for the sake of it as an activity but as a way of making our industry as whole, sharper, stronger and more able to defend itself and its work. I think that could begin at the professional level, with the more popular conferences in our field but I think that the faculty in our Instructional Design programs have an additional responsibility, one that they are probably well aware of, to make their programs more inclusive and interdisciplinary.
Here is a quick list of the sessions I really found interesting:
Globalizing Historiography: Reciprocal Integration and Future Directions
The Past of the Future or the Future of the Past? Perspectives on Digital Historical Monographs from Gutenberg-e Authors
Teaching Historiography: Approaches, Resources, and Issues
Culture, Military History, and Global Historiography
The Future of Memory Studies
Building the Future of History and Computing
History Education and Technology in Our Middle and High Schools
Teaching History in the Digital Age
Sites of Encounter: Thinking Historically about Early Human History
Putting Historical Skills to Work: Careers beyond Academe
The Marriage of Theory and Praxis: Modernism, Postmodernism, and the Medieval Grand Narrative
Crossing Borders: Technology and Globalization in Historical Perspective
So, I started picking this up on Twitter -apologies for not remembering the original Tweeter - but certainly Global Nerdy is where I first landed. I posted before about how the U.S. Air Force (USAF) has made steps toward bringing 2.0 capabilities behind its firewall, but now it looks like it the USAF has a full-scale social media press going on.
15 ways to improve your presentations in 2009: Great list. Yes, there is some self-evident stuff but that's not shocking - more of us just need to apply these principles. I would also add, read Slide:ology.