Thursday, February 14, 2013


As I write this on Tuesday afternoon, it’s just a few hours before President Obama’s State of the Union Address—yet the internet is already buzzing with discussion.

I’m not a tweeter myself, but on occasion I mosey over to twitter and take a peek at what others are tweeting about. And #SOTU is hopping.

Lots of folks are chiming in about how excited they are to hear the speech. Lots of other folks are passing snarky judgment on what Obama may say. Many organizations are expressing their hope that he tackles an issue dear to their hearts. (I have my fingers crossed—as do the folks at the Union of Concerned Scientists—that “bold action” on climate change is on the agenda.) 

The mood is anticipatory. My favorite tweet so far comes from Dr. Jill Biden: “Joe is practicing keeping a straight face for the #SOTU. He is allowed to roll his eyes at John Boehner, though.”

It will be interesting to look back at the end of my career (hopefully several decades in the future) and see how today’s kids—who have grown up in the age of social media—view knowledge and scholarship. (There are, of course, already lively discussions about the effect of the digital revolution on the writing of history. Take a look at this site to see some of the issues raised.)

Social media—especially blogs and tweets—are changing the way we view current events.  We all have opinions, and social media is giving us an easy way to express them.

I hope this leads to a more engaged citizenry. (I’m not sure it will. Perhaps if you’ve tweeted your displeasure about a situation in the news, you’ll then feel like you’ve done your bit and won’t have to actually DO anything to help fix it.)

Will history feel more relevant to tomorrow’s adults, if they were more actively engaged in current events as kids? I don’t know.

I do know that tweets and blogs will give tomorrow’s historians a heck of a lot more information to work with—more eyewitness accounts; more access to how everyday people were feeling ‘back then.’

For now, it’s interesting to be swept up along for the ride. Whetting my anticipation (along with the opportunity to see if Joe Biden behaves) is this terrific video, created by the White House, about how the 2012 State of the Union Address was created. While it discusses last year’s speech, it doesn’t really matter as it’s a video about process and craft—the speechwriters discussing how they work with President Obama to write and revise an important speech.

It’s perfect to share with students—and you’ll find it, of course, on YouTube.


Deborah Heiligman said...

Barb, I loved this post and I really liked watching the video of Obama's speechwriters. I think you're right, teachers could show that to kids as a real demonstration of a writing process. I must admit that i didn't watch the SOTU this year. I watched the dog show. I figured I could catch up more easily on the SOTU. It's harder to capture those tail-wagging moments than those head-wagging, eye rolling moments...OK, maybe not, but... still I am standing by my decision.

Barbara Kerley said...

Ha, no worries -- you can find the SOTU easily. I actually watched it on the White House site.

Funny thing, though, in light of my post -- the camera angle close-up on Obama showed Biden and Boehner seated behind him...from the nose down. I could not see if Biden every rolled his eyes at anyone!