Thoughts on Reading: Startups and Public Historians

The readings this week provided quite a bit of optimism for up and coming historians. However, the book the $100 startup may have been a little overly optimistic. Unfortunately, the way the economy works does not allow for everyone to be their own boss. The blind optimism that the author attempts to sell us could prove dangerous. It is important to think creatively and use our unique talents in whatever profession we choose, but we also need to be flexible and realistic in our approach. Even though the author touches on some hiccups he doesn’t talk about hard work, or changing markets, which could lead to further reinvention and creativity.

As historians we ask, are people willing to pay for historical knowledge and experience? After exploring the websites assigned this week the answer seems to be yes. The website provides an example of recognizing a niche market and capturing it, however eventually more people will creep into the niche, and once again these creative history jobs will become saturated and difficult to get, just like teaching jobs.

Even after this week’s readings I still don’t believe public history should stick to a “profit before people” mentality, but we do want to make a living. Two skills historians will always have is excellent research abilities and critical thinking, therefore no matter what profession we end up in the skills we have will be beneficial. However, our schoolwork can be a hindrance, as Rudd Putnam states: “The cognitive overload of an academic life prevents us from being truly thoughtful.” Sometimes this mental block can prevent historians from being creative, and sometimes it can prevent them from assessing what is possible for their future.

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