Identifying manuscripts in social media

Michael Schonhardt:

Some days ago a number of articles and blogposts appeared in my twitter timeline criticizing “twitter streams that do nothing more than post ‘old’ pictures and little tidbits of captions for them”1 , e.g.

Sarah Werner (whose blogpost I highly recommend!) and others rightly criticized these accounts for using unattributed and unidentified historical pictures for their own commercial purpose, making it impossible to access the underlying historical context of those pictures.

Following the debate on twitter, however, I stumbled across a few tweets (quoted below) that prompted me to scrutinize my own social media practice as a historian, especially the limitations and potential of scientific work using social media, and twitter in particular.

An increasing number of scholars not only employs the microblogging network for channeling private messages, but also to provide glimpses into their professional work and expertise. I have characterized this as a revival of the so called context of discovery (Reichenberg)2 .

Following both the logic of social media and the nature of historical research on the Middle Ages, a good deal of this information shared on twitter consists of digitized images of medieval manuscripts, to which sometimes additional information is added.