Most of us can agree that one of Twitter’s greatest draws is that real-time information can be quickly, easily disseminated across the Internet. Yet when real-time updates chronicle events of pure tedium such as, say, what people are eating for lunch or watching on television, most of us move our mouse over to the unfollow button pretty quickly.
Well, history buffs, it’s time to rejoice. A 24-year-old graduate student at Oxford has embarked on a new historical project that mixes social media and historical research. Alwyn Collinson will be spending the next six years chronicling the day-by-day events of World War II.
Under the handle @RealTimeWWII, Collinson began tweeting on August 31, which, 72 years ago, was the eve of Germany’s invasion of Poland. Since then, he’s been updating the timeline to reflect the events of the second World War up to the hour, sometimes sending as many as 40 tweets a day.
“I’m using eyewitness accounts, photographs and video to give the feel these tweets are coming straight from 1939,” Collinson told the BBC. “People say it can help connect them to history by seeing it through the eyes and the words of people who were there.”
So far, Monday’s tweets reflect what took place on November 14, 1939 with tweets such about Berlin turning down a “Dutch-Belgian offer to mediate with Allies” and on the creation of “a shadow government for the ‘People’s Republic of Finland.’”
The project has been incredibly popular so far, as more than 100,000 accounts are following @RealTimeWWII‘s ingenious mix of social media and history. Of course, it’s still early thus far in the timeline’s history. It’s hard to say how popular the updates will be when they’re sharing the tragic and gruesome events of Auschwitz or Dachau in real-time. Yet, however unsettling the timeline might get, it’s guaranteed to be more salient than real-time updates of Dancing with the Stars.
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