Some of the attendees who brought the conference to you on Twitter.
Back in 2012 some Australian historians were following the annual conference of the American Historical Association on Twitter. We did the Australian thing and stayed up late to follow a live event in another country and immersed ourselves in the torrent of tweets from conference participants reporting the events via the #AHA2012 hashtag. I have written about this, my first experience following a conference via Twitter in my post, ‘Nearly There: Experiencing a Conference Online’.
What a wonderful service those tweeps had provided to all those who could not attend the conference. We were inspired:
@perkinsy 13/1/2012 4:52.56:
#AHA2012 was an online success. Can we share @AustHistAssoc conference in the same way? @davegearl @wragge http://t.co/Xjk2q8yM #AHA2012
The tweets have long disappeared from Twitter itself but through my Twitter Archive I found the response from British historian, Sharon Howard, which gave life to the idea (I added bold to the key text):
@perkinsy 13/1/2012 20:38.28:
I like it – succint. @AustHistAssoc @davegearl RT @sharon_howard: @perkinsy @wragge I propose the hashtag #OzHA12 🙂
So the #OzHA hashtag was born… and to my chagrin my spelling error is immortalised. Continue reading
In many respects the format of academic conferences has not changed much over the years. There will be some plenary sessions with keynote lectures but the hive of the conference is the parallel sessions where many presenters stand up, read their paper and answer a few questions afterwards. Once upon a time presenters may have used overhead transparencies. These have been replaced by powerpoint presentations which in the hands of most presenters are little different to the old technology.
But social media has introduced a profound change to the dynamics of conferences. The soundscape of plenary sessions at the Global Digital Humanities conference did not simply comprise the tones of the person speaking on stage. There was also the soft sounds of hundreds of fingers tapping on keyboards, reporting the conference to the world via Twitter.
Over several conferences I have been observing presenters and thinking about how best to present a paper in the Social Media Age. At the Australian Historical Association conference a few weeks ago I had a chance to put some ideas into practice.
Firstly I made sure I put my name and my Twitter handle on the bottom of every powerpoint slide. The best way of giving attribution on Twitter is to use the presenter’s Twitter handle but too often the people tweeting a paper are not aware that the presenter is on Twitter. The presenter misses out on a higher profile online and the possibility of connecting to more colleagues online. Likewise the audience misses out on an opportunity to expand their professional networks. Continue reading
Family history is an important entrée into wider historical interests for many people in our society. But historian Anna Clark asks if connecting to the past through personal experience shuts out other personal experiences?
Anna Clark from University of Technology, Sydney was one of five historians who spoke at the popular ‘Big Questions in History’ panel at the recent conference of the Australian Historical Association. This plenary session is devoted to a critical discussion about the connections between historians and Australian society. It has been held at every conference I have attended since 2012 and is a dynamic, thought-provoking session.
Clark’s question is pertinent. While we are absorbed in our own family history research are we alert to the lives of others who lived in the same community as our ancestors? We may have built a fascinating story about our ancestor but embellishments and silences handed down over the generations may be exposed when we look at the stories of others. The stories of others, unrelated to us, are important to understand too. How can we understand current affairs without some knowledge of the Stolen Generations and the Mabo High Court Case?
“In the midst of this popular flowering of history”, Clark said, “there is a concern that we don’t know enough about the past”.
It is a classic example of the more we know, the more we know we don’t know.
Ann Curthoys reflected on her personal history as a participant in the original Australian Freedom Rides which exposed horrible discrimination against Aboriginal people in Australian country towns. A few years ago she wrote about her experience in Freedom Rides: A freedom rider remembers, and her diary is held by AIATSIC and is available online. Continue reading
The couches came out at #dh2015 for the Indigenous Digital Knowledge panel. Photo by Bruce B Janz via Twitter.
Ground breaking use of technology by Australian Aboriginal people was featured at the recent Global Digital Humanities Conference held at the University of Western Sydney. In a session that captivated the attention of academics from around the world the Indigenous Digital Knowledge plenary panel demonstrated that Aboriginal people are innovative in their embrace of technology.
Unlike so many conferences which non-indigenous people lead the discussion about indigenous issues, three of the four academics on this panel are Aboriginal people. As many Aboriginal people have observed, they are probably the most studied populations on earth, but it is the non-indigenous researchers who get credited in our society for their knowledge about Aboriginal people. It was refreshing to hear from Aboriginal people who are experts in their fields of technology and the humanities tell a non-indigenous audience how it is for Aboriginal people. Continue reading
An Aussie Rules football match earlier this year in Western Sydney between Greater Western Sydney and Hawthorn. This is where I should segue into a comment relating to the conferences but really, I don’t think any of the international attendees at the conference at University of Sydney this week will be attending a footy match. I could also make a comment about attendees kicking goals and being ‘on the ball’ but that has been done before. I’ll be honest, I couldn’t find a photo that related to the subject matter.
Today I am embarking on a crazy eleven days. This week I am attending the International Digital Humanities Conference at the University of Western Sydney. When that ends on Friday, I then head to the State Library of NSW for the weekend of the GovHack competition. I’ll be there throughout the weekend extracting a variety datasets about World War I as part of a team which will produce something online which will help people gain greater insights into an aspect of the history of the War. Then on Monday 6th July the annual Australian Historical Association conference commences. I am delivering a paper at this conference.
Digital Humanities is an emerging discipline about the use of technology in humanities research. GovHack is an annual competition where Australian governments, and this year New Zealand, encourage people to use government datasets, merge them, filter them, visualise them and generally be creative with them in order to find new insights and help people to connect with this information. The WWIHack is part of the GovHack competition this year. Cultural institutions from around Australia and New Zealand are making available datasets about World War One available for the competition. All datasets are freely available for anyone to use, so even if you are not entering these competitions you can also have a look at them and see what you can make of them.
I am exhausted thinking about it, but in these two weeks I will learn so much that will be useful for my work. As well as an important learning opportunity these events will recharge my enthusiasm for my book and make me look at it in a new light.
I will be sharing my experience of these activities through blog posts and tweets. These are the hashtags I will be using on Twitter (@perkinsy) over the next couple of weeks:
I realised I had not explained what digital humanities and GovHack were when I wrote this late last night so I quickly added an explanatory paragraph this morning.
The conference was held at the University of Wollongong. What a beautiful environment!
Social media has revolutionised reporting. Citizen reporters flood social media with immediate observations of revolutionary events, disasters, sports matches as well as more mundane everyday moments. This form of reporting is also changing the experience of academic conferences for many. People who cannot attend can listen in on the conference backchannels through Twitter. They can discuss it on Facebook and read about it on blogs during the conference and in the immediate aftermath.
Tweeps and bloggers attending the annual conference of the Australian Historical Association in Wollongong broadcast the news as it happened – or did they? Continue reading