Australian History Conference Generates Record Twitter Stream

The Twitter stream from the 2017 annual Australian Historical Association conference at the University of Newcastle last week broke the records. The conference’s #OzHA2017 Twitter stream had more tweets and more participants than in the previous five years.

During the five days of this year’s conference at the University of Newcastle sent over four thousand tweets. This online reporting of the conference enables interested people from around the world to follow the latest work of historians living in Australia.

Bar graph

Number of tweets sent using the #OzHA hashtag during the annual Australian Historical Association conferences.
^ Includes RTs and duplicate tweets

The number of people tweeting during the conference also increased this year. For these statistics, I have only counted those who have sent ten or more tweets during the conference. This makes the count more reflective of the number of people who show committed support for the hashtag.

Bar graph

People who sent more than ten tweets during the annual Australian Historical Association conferences.
^ Includes RTs and duplicate tweets

The #OzHA conference hashtag was first used at the Adelaide conference in 2012. You can read how the hashtag started in a post I wrote in 2015. Since that year the conference tweets have been archived thanks to British historian, Sharon Howard. This year and last year the conference tweets have been saved using Martin Hawksey’s Twitter archiving tool. I now have five years of spreadsheets listing the #OzHA tweets. You can access the #OzHA2017 Twitter archive here.

The tweets are harvested via the Twitter API (application programming interface). It is important to note that when the Twitter stream is heavy, Twitter does not guarantee that their API will harvest all tweets. So the statistics I am providing are reasonable approximations rather than precise measures.

This year I have pondered another issue. The tweets that are most valuable to the conference Twitter stream are original tweets. Retweets are great because it is a method where we can supplement our tweeting in order to better inform our followers of what is going on at the conference. And I know, I know… a lot of people say that a retweet is not an endorsement, but if I see a good tweet, why reinvent the wheel? A retweet in many cases is an acknowledgement that someone has been first to tweet something and encapsulated the thought well.

But overall the best conference Twitter stream is one that has many people tweeting (preferrably from diverse backgrounds) composing their own pithy summations of what they see and hear. A multitude of voices adds to the depth of commentary on Twitter and also gives a better chance that papers at concurrent sessions will be reported. I wanted to acknowledge that in this post, so I sorted the spreadsheet to identify retweets and duplicates (where someone retweets their own tweet). From this, I made a list of those people who sent the largest number of original tweets. The top ten #OzHA2017 tweeps are:

  1. @hpstorian
  2. @auswhn
  3. @ImogenMathew
  4. @mikejonesmelb
  5. @LilithJournal
  6. @nthistorian
  7. @HistoryNerdess
  8. @baibi
  9. @kilderbenhauser
  10. @EmmaKluge1

These historians were responsible for 64% of all original tweets. I am pleased with this list because during my trawling through the conference Twitter stream I had already noticed that these people and organisations consistently sent well-composed tweets during the conference.

The #OzHA2017 tweeps tweet about history throughout the year using the #twitterstorians hashtag used by historians throughout the English-speaking world, and the #OzHist hashtag. There are also some interesting history tweeps who did great conference tweeting who are not on the list. I have included over twenty of the top conference tweeters on my #OzHA2017 Tweeps list on Twitter. Subscribe to the list and follow expert commentary on all matters history (and some fun tweets too) throughout the year.

In tomorrow’s post I will delve deeper into the conference and look at the topics discussed at the conference. Drop by tomorrow morning and start your weekend by reading about the latest developments in history that excite Australian historians today.

I have blogged about each Australian History Association conference for six years. Catch up on the recent history of this annual conference by browsing through my catalogue of past conference posts.

Further Reading and Resources

This is the first in a series of posts about the 2017 Australian Historical Association Conference. Read the others:

You can still access some resources about the 2017 Australian Historical Association conference:

I have been blogging about conferences since 2012:

7 thoughts on “Australian History Conference Generates Record Twitter Stream

  1. Hi Yvonne, I’m in two minds about this. Maybe it’s just me but I find I retain info from a conference better if I take hand-written notes. So tweeting, whether it’s any use to anyone else or not, would distract me from summarising what I’m hearing in a way that I would remember.
    Anyway, looking forward to your summations from the sessions to went to!


    • I understand that Lisa. I think differently with pen and paper compared to typing. Hand writing is for slow, deep thinking. When I am in a conference I don’t generally look at the tweets being sent during a session but just type my notes on Twitter. But I find the physical act of typing easier than handwriting. I can take a lot more notes when typing. I generally regard tweeting a session as first-level note-taking. I am typing literally what I hear (or as close as I can manage). The deeper-level distilling and assessment is what I do when writing a blog post.

      I was staying in a caravan in sub-zero temperatures next to an icy dam at the bottom of a hill in Tasmania during this year’s conference. So this year I will be analysing the conference through how it was reported online. I puzzled how to do this with such a lot of tweets but I have found a way to tell the story. Stay tuned for tomorrow!


    • Hi Lisa,
      This is often a dilemma for me as I have the habit of taking hand written notes. One of my favourite presentations from the conference was Dr. Michael Stevens: ‘Whakarērere taku kaipuke ki Te Moana Tāpokopoko a Tāwhaki: ‘Sea-ing’ Kāi Tahu Whānui in the Tasman World’, yet I didn’t tweet it at all because I was so caught in my scribbling.

      One of twitter’s paradoxes is that it privileges some types of content over others – another great event at the conference was the panel on publishing as an ECR, which lent itself readily to a tweet thread. Generally though I think it adds something to the conference, not least the ability to connect with other historians quickly and easily.


      • Thank you for your insightful comment. I agree about some topics being more amenable for tweeting than others. I would imagine typing in the languages of the Pacific may be tricky. I also think Twitter is a poor medium to tweet controversial topics. Reducing such complexity to a soundbite can easily cause a presenter to be misrepresented, or the tweet could be taken out of context like a soundbite.

        By the way, I am hoping to include the sessions about histories of the Pacific in my next post.


  2. Great post! Still absorbing it. Just one slight, minor detail – My twitter handle is @kilderbenhauser


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