#KU_WWI Sentiments: the Good, the Bad & the Retweeted

When it comes to using social media to explore historical topics, one is never quite sure how it’s going to turn out. The crowd sourcing aspect of Twitter is by nature unpredictable — and once it’s out on the internet, it’s out there for good.

It was just a few months ago that #KU_WWI staff sat down to talk about these issues. Our anxieties ranged from, “What if the technology doesn’t work?” to “What if we incite an international incident by inadvertently offending an eastern european country?” But our biggest concerns were, “Would anyone take notice?” and “Would they find it informative and useful?”

Rather than guess, we thought we’d just go ahead and ask.

Over the past few months we’ve been collecting your feedback into what we like to call, #Sentiments: The Good, The Bad & The Retweeted — thoughts and opinions from the twitterverse. And in this blog post, we thought we’d share a summary.

Read the complete archive of #KU_WWI Sentiments on Storify.

Almost from the beginning, the project had a faithful following who helped spread the word.

Your promotion caught the eye of local media and resulted in our first press coverage.

By the end of the project, we were featured on Kansas Public Radio’s KPR Presents, Channel6 News, and had been the subject of 18 online and print articles including in the Associated Press and The Washington Post.

The project reached a global audience who tweeted about #KU_WWI in multiple languages — Spanish, French, Bosnian, Serbian, Chinese, Russian and Czech.

As the LIVE Tweetenactment unfolded, quite a few of you stayed with us and watched as history happened as if LIVE on twitter.

That said, not everyone enjoyed the LIVE Tweetenactment. Negative feedback ranged from dubious to overtly offended by the project concept.

And a few good samaritans helped with grammar tips.

Some of your comments after the LIVE Tweetenactment were particularly poignant and insightful.

And by and large, your response to the #KU_WWI Twitter Project was overwhelmingly positive.

Preliminary reports indicate that the #KU_WWI Twitter Project had 456 contributors, generated 4,600 tweets, reached 623,900 unique twitter accounts, and created 3.4 million impressions throughout the entire twitterverse.

Thank you to everyone who made this project such a success!

The #KU_WWI Twitter Project is a collaboration among the Center for Russian, East European & Eurasian Studies, the Ermal Garinger Academic Resource Center, European Studies Program, the departments of Germanic Languages & Literatures, History and Slavic Languages & Literatures, University Honors Program, Global Awareness Program, Hall Center for the Humanities, KU Libraries, KU Memorial Unions and Spencer Museum of Art. This project is also sponsored by the National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial in Kansas City.

The University of Kansas Center for Russian, East European & Eurasian Studies is designated a Title VI National Resource Center for the study of Russia, Eastern Europe and Eurasia by the U.S. Department of Education.

This project is part of the University of Kansas centennial commemoration of World War I, coordinated by the European Studies Program. Learn more about participating units and upcoming programs at KUWWI.com.

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#KU_WWI @GSoldierSvejk Literary Tweetenactment

Since 1923, The Fateful Adventures of The Good Soldier Švejk during the World War, or more commonly known as The Good Soldier Švejk, has been delighting audiences around the world with its dark comedy and biting anti-war themes.

 

Considered the grandfather of satirical anti-war novels like Catch-22, The Good Soldier Švejk is a hilarious yet scathing commentary on the ludicrous absurdity of 20th century Austro-Hungarian bureaucracy. The novel has been translated into over 58 languages and many acknowledge it as one of the greatest masterpieces of satirical writing ever written.

 

For the purposes of the #KU_WWI Twitter Project, we present an abbreviated first chapter of The Good Soldier Švejk in which Švejk (@GSoldierSvejk) learns about the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand (@ArchdukeFranzi) from his cleaning lady, Mrs. Müller (@CharwomanMuller). What is striking about their discussion is its seeming irrelevance to their everyday lives — they are interested in the event, but only in so much as people are when it comes to royalty and scandal.

 

The literary tweetenactment tries to be as true to the English translation of the novel as possible, with abbreviation and some artistic license for the 140-character tweet limitation.

Read the @GSoldierSvejk Tweetenactment here.

The @GoodSoldierSvejk Tweetenactment is meant to represent the greater body of WWI literature, music, and art that would come out of the early part of the 20th century. It is our opinion that history is best understood by exposure to the humanities, and it is our hope that you will be inspired to seek your own copy of The Good Soldier Švejk as a means of better understanding the First World War.

Click here to learn more about the #KU_WWI Twitter Project.

Did you know that the Spencer Museum of Art at the University of Kansas now hosts one of the largest collection of WWI art in the United States? Click here to read an article about the collection.

#KU_WWI LIVE Tweetenactment

On 28 June 2014, #KU_WWI Twitter Project staff and 8 members from the Lawrence community met at the National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial in Kansas City to LIVE Tweetenact the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand exactly 100 years after his death.

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University of Kansas faculty, students, and members of the local community learned about the historical event and wrote many of the tweets for the reenactment during Spring 2014. These contributions were formed into a Master Script that was uploaded into an automated system that began tweeting out using the hashtag #KU_WWI at 9:30 am on June 28th, exactly 100 years to the minute (not counting the time difference) that Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife, Duchess Sophie, left Hotel Bosna to begin their fateful visit to Sarajevo.

The 8 LIVE tweeters had advanced copies of this script, and were tasked with researching, adding, embellishing, explaining, retweeting and responding to the automated script in the voice of the character or characters they represented.

The end result was, as one #KU_WWI staff member likes to describe it, a “historically-inspired, humanities-driven improvisational social media jazz piece” that gave voice, agency and narrative to the persons involved in this event often perceived as the starting point for a war that would result in the death of 17 million people.

#KU_WWI Project staff would like to thank the National World War I Museum for hosting us on June 28th. And we would especially like to express our gratitude to the smart, witty, creative, history-loving and community-driven LIVE tweeters who took time out of their busy lives to research these events and share their unique perspectives. Thank you, tweeps!

#KU_WWI Live Tweet pic 3

While the assassination occurred on June 28th, it wasn’t until one month later, on July 28th, 1914, that Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia and the First World War officially began. In remembrance of this momentous day in history, #KU_WWI staff have waited until exactly 100 years later, 28 July 2014, to release the Storify of the LIVE Tweetenactment of the Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand.

The month long delay in releasing the LIVE Tweetenactment has somewhat disrupted the project’s historical timeline – the follow-up mini tweetenactments of what occurred in Sarajevo after the assassination, the reaction of leaders from around the world, and the experience of the couple’s children will be somewhat out of time and place when we release them in August. But we still felt the wait was symbolically worthwhile. As the WWI centennial commemoration progresses over the month of August and we learn more about how this conflict shaped the 20th century, we hope these #KU_WWI Storifies are small reminders of the human side of these events, and make us think back to what occurred just one month earlier in Sarajevo.

May these events always be remembered, and the people never forgotten.

Click here to learn more about the #KU_WWI Twitter Project.

Click here to read about the #KU_WWI Twitter Project in the Washington Post.

#KU_WWI in the News

The #KU_WWI Twitter Project made the news again!  Check out the article “Twitter Project revisits pre-WWI event” in KU Today.

In other #KU_WWI related news, European Studies has a newly redesigned website for the project, which includes links to the mini reenactments in multiple languages. To learn more, go to: https://european.ku.edu/wwi-twitter-project

Call For Tweeters #1 this Wednesday, April 9

KUWWI Call for Tweeters Flyer 2.indd

The #KU_WWI Twitter Project’s first Call for Tweeters will be this Wednesday (April 9th) at 7pm in the Malott Room of the Kansas Union (6th Floor).  Students, faculty, and members of the KU community are welcome to come!

The general idea is to have KU students, faculty and staff create a script for reenacting the assassination of the archduke which will tweet-out live on June 28, 2014, 100 years after the event. You don’t need a twitter account, and you don’t necessarily need any knowledge of WWI or the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand.  All you need is creativity and the ability to summarize what you learn into 140 character tweets!

There are two upcoming opportunities for participation:

Wednesday, April 9, 7pm, Malott Room Kansas Union
Wednesday, April 30, 7pm, Alderson Auditorium Kansas Union

Participants are encouraged to come to one or both events (available for GAP credit).  There will be light refreshments and door prizes.  Select participants will receive copies of:

The First World War by John Keegan
The Sleepwalkers, How Europe Went to War by Christopher Clark
Catastrophe 1914 by Max Hastings
July 1914: Countdown to War by Sean McMeekin
The Assassination of the Archduke by Greg King and Sue Woolmans
Good Soldier Švejk by Jaroslav Hašek

Questions? Contact Project Leader Sam Moore (KUWWI@ku.edu) or submit your question or comment below: