Over the past few days I’ve been putting together some thoughts for a panel on the Civil War sesquicentennial that I am taking part in this coming April at the annual meeting of the OAH in Milwaukee. I shared my proposal a few months ago and am now trying to fill in some of the detail. I am very interested in the implications of social media on how public historians in museums and other institutions have utilized these tools during the sesquicentennial.
As I suggested in my proposal, social media has fundamentally changed the commemorative landscape. Whereas 50 years ago only a few institutions were positioned to shape a national Civil War remembrance the democratization of the web means that all of our voices can now be heard. Most institutions have done a pretty good job of utilizing social media tools such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube to disseminate information to the public, but what are they doing to engage their audience? Social media is a 2-way street and I am not simply thinking of a Facebook page that allows for readers’ comments.