Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Science in Flux Twitter Experiment

I want to announce what I believe is a Twitter first for the digital humanities: an academic history book written for Twitter.

This is actually a significant revision of my NASA history book I wrote in 2006 called Science in Flux. At the time it won the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics award for best book of the year. To find it at a library near you visit:

Re-writing the book in tweets is an attempt to compose “sound byte” aphorisms that convey the narrative in new ways. It also invites conversation in a way that traditional book publication cannot.

I do think that there are very important meanings from the book related to the Cold War, government control, and the commitment to science that are quite relevant today.

Cyrus Mody reviewed my book in Historical Studies of the Natural Sciences. He said that my book, and four others that he reviewed, was representative of new Cold War scholarship that uncovers the “grandiose ambitions of the Cold War.” He said that Science in Flux, and other books, highlighted the “astonishing otherness of the Cold War.” You can read the review essay here: Science in Flux review

I have completed the re-write and have the story now condensed into 756 tweets. I will be starting the tweets on September 1st and will post 3 times a day, appearing at 8:05AM, 4:05PM, and 11:55PM (EST). These will be posted on Twitter to @TheHistoryFeed and linked to the hashtag #ScienceInFlux.

Here is a preview of a tweet scheduled for October 30th near midnight:

10/30/2013  11:55:00 PM: Before WWII the US government seized roughly the size of all the New England states from private citizens.  #ScienceInFlux

Here is one of the homes that the government literally took. The nicer ones were relocated and kept for officer housing. This place became the Plum Brook Ordnance Works during WWII, and later the home of NASA's only nuclear reactor

Along the way I will be attaching some of the rich visual record associated with the project.

I hope you will follow along in the narrative, and most importantly contribute your own thoughts and ideas as we proceed through the Science in Flux journey. Spread the news!

Inside the NASA Plum Brook nuclear reactor.