Hey Girl: Public History Ryan Gosling

This morning I had a sudden thought – What happened to the amazing Public History Ryan Gosling tumblr page? A majority of students in my graduate program followed it during our time in the trenches – er – classroom. As our coursework reached an end in May 2012, Ryan seemed to disappear…

Created by graduate students studying Public History at the Loyola Univeristy of Chicago, Public History Ryan Gosling is a blog using the tumblr platform that pairs the popular “Hey Girl” meme with theories and concepts behind public history. 



The tumblr was an amazing success – easily reaching + 60,000 individuals and creating all sorts of Public History and Gosling dialogues! In an October 2012 post, the creators of the site analyzed the effectiveness of using popular culture and social media as a communicative device for historians. 

So what happened to Public History Ryan Gosling? Well, from quick observation, it looks like the student authors of the blog may have gone on to pursue internships and/or jobs. In their interview, the creators note the “ephemeral nature of online culture” and point out that “Public History Ryan Gosling lost his cachet within months” and by fall 2012 the site was “somewhat outdated and irrelevant.” 


With the Internet’s attention span all of about 20 seconds, this raises the question – How can historians, museums, and other sites of informal learning effectively utilize social media to communicate with the public? One thing is certain – the frequency of updates and posts are essential – as is the quality. 

What are some ways your institution – or cultural organizations you follow – effectively use social media such as Facebook, Twitter, and tumblr? What would you change? 

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