Being a “Twitter Actor” – or basically being anything that somebody just makes up – may seem a little daunting. But it’s not. It’s easy, and we’ll do what we can to make it easier.
FIRST STEP – PICK YOUR DELEGATE
1st Option – Answer a few questions and let me pick
I can choose a delegate for you, or give you some options. Just fill out this Survey Monkey:
2nd Option – Request Delegates.
If you want, you can request a specific delegate. You may know a lot about a particular person, or have an idea about a delegate that made arguments that you’re interested in.
You can also research the delegates yourself:
ScriptSheet – You can browse the ScriptSheet. The first page is a summary, saying how often a delegate speaks, when, what he speaks about, and some notes that I made. The full list of dates and topics spoken (including number of times for delegates that speak a lot) are hidden, because they make it difficult to view the document. Please email me any questions.
The ScriptSheets will be shared by Google Drive. For now, you can access the ScriptSheet here -
That lets anybody with that link find the document and comment on it. After I talk to more of you, we will share the documents only with certain people and we will allow you to edit it. If you have a Google account or an email you prefer to use, please let us now.
Other Resources – There are some great online resources to find out about your delegate. A good place to find lots of information is http://teachingamericanhistory.org/convention/delegates/. Also, Bruce Carlson has a podcast called “They Signed” which describes the signers of the Declaration of Independence (some signed both).
SECOND STEP – CREATE YOUR CHARACTER
This is the heart of being a “Twitter Actor”- creating your voice that you’ll use to speak the words of the delegate. You will have a wide range of freedom – because we are linking to the original text, you don’t need to copy it. You can make a sign pointing to it, a headline, an expression of the same type of thought… The format of Tweet the Debates gives you a lot of freedom as a Twitter Actor.
Here are some ideas you can try:
Historic + Legal
- Try for historic accuracy
- Make the arguments as clear & understandable as possible
- Find the relevance to today’s world
D.M. Napier, Simon Earle, and Alyx Kendzierski are teaming up to imagine Alexander Hamilton as Bruce Wayne, who rushes off to Gotham City during the middle of the Convention.
These fun ideas that you imagine (thanks, D.M.!) are what can help this civics education project reach more people. Please feel free to do any of the
- JUST MAKE JOKES!
- Create any kind of character you want (robot, alien, James Cagney…)
- You could exaggerate personal traits, like James Wilson’s thick Scottish accent, or rumors, like Luther Martin’s insobriety
- A couple delegates basically have catchphrases they say frequently. So sketch comedy, in other words.
- You could make a character who makes his speeches only in Bob Dylan or heavy metal lyrics
You could explore the available ways to communicate, and make every speech in a different way, a photo meme, a Vine, a podcast… You could search for tweets or other media already made to fit your delegate’s arguments. Or you could ask your communities to help you make new media.
Most importantly, you can always just be yourself. We reached out to people and organizations that we think do interesting and important work. What would a legal services lawyer do at the Constitutional Convention? You can talk about your passions and your interests in the words of the Convention.
For example, Jonathan Denn is playing the role of John Dickinson, who, on June 6th, offered the eventual compromise regarding equality in the Senate, weeks before they finally agreed to it. Jon is trying to identify compromise with his work with aGREATER.US, so he may find many parallels.
I can help you brainstorm and create a character! We can schedule a time to talk on the telephone, Skype, messenger or chat online… We can create a character and pick your delegate in one meeting.
THIRD STEP – MAKE PROFILE PAGE
Creating your Twitter Handle for your delegate is pretty simple. You just need a:
- Name Like any Twitter Handle, we’ll have to see what is available. And shorter is better. Other than that, it’s wide open.
- Picture You have a lot of options to find/make a picture. Many public domain pictures are available online of the delegate. You can edit a picture of yourself into the Convention, or take a picture wearing a powdered wig. We can help with GIMP. Jim Ether, who made the awesome illustration of the Convention with smartphones, may be able to draw a delegate to your specifications.
- Bio The Twitter profile page has space for a short bio (160 characters or less). We can use the bio from the Teaching American History website or you can write your own.
- Email address You need an email address for a new Twitter account. We can give you an email account – YourDelegate@TweettheDebates.com. You can use this email account through Webmail or Outlook, Thunderbird, or a phone email program. Please let us know if you want an email address.
It’s best if you can make the Twitter Handle for the delegate by the date listed in “First Attend”, but it can be done anytime between that date and the Date of First Tweet. We can create the Twitter Account for you, but it’s easier if you set it up yourself. Make up a password you don’t use for any other accounts, and share that password with us so we can help schedule tweets for you.
FOURTH STEP – REWRITE TWEETS
The final required step of being a Twitter Actor is to rewrite the “pre-tweets” that I wrote for the delegates. As you can see in the summary, for the majority of delegates, this is less than 25 tweets and will not take long. In fact, for many delegates, we can pick your delegate, create your character, and rewrite your tweets during one phone call or meeting.
Even delegates who speak more may not be as difficult as it first appears. People who speak more also tend to say more quotable things, so there may not be much to rewrite.
You can find the Convention Records by visiting the digital library of our partner The Constitutional Sources Project (www.ConSource.org).
You are limited to 130 characters in your tweets, in order to ensure room to add links to the original text.
You rewrite the tweets in the Google Drive ScriptSheets. You could start in the ScriptSheets we shared with everyone, or we can make a special ScriptSheet that only the two of us share. We will soon be sharing different kinds of ScriptSheets, including one ordered by time and date and arguments.
Generally, we hope that you do your tweets all at once, or at least a week before the speech. The Convention starts on May 25th.
FIFTH STEP – HAVE FUN
After the ScriptSheet, you’ve fulfilled all the obligations of a Twitter Actor! Thanks for your help in creating Tweet the Debates!
There’s plenty more opportunities to keep participating if you so desire. You can tweet whispers, heckles or other remarks throughout the Convention. There are scripted times to participate, such as when James Madison notes a “General Commotion” during the Convention. Your delegate likely participates in committees, or may be involved in other historical events, like returning to Congress to pass the Northwest Ordinance.
ConSource.org is also a great place to find letters, notes or diary entries written by your delegate. You can write a tweet and then include a link to particular documents, so your followers can read the full historical document.
Or you can just imagine the Founding Fathers using Twitter as we do today: to complain about how many beers you drank last night, to share a song that says what you’re feeling, to distract yourself.
The @TweettheDebates feed will only re-tweet the official tweets with links to the official text, but other lists will include all tweets from all delegates.