After Googling myself, I found that I had a very minimum presence on the World Wide Web. I would rate myself as having an overall low profile online. There are some other persons named Brian Valimont, one who is a PhD engineer in Florida and another with a Caring Bridge website, but these guys are not me! The two most prominent forms of my digital presence are my Facebook and Linked In pages. My Facebook page is fairly tame. I only post pictures and comments occasionally, and I refrain entirely from political and off-color remarks. For me social media is exactly that – being social, so I keep my comments friendly and good natured. My posts on FB are private – I keep it within a small circle of friends. My Linked In profile is as professional as I can get it. It has my employment and educational histories, and I have my resume/ CV available. It is publicly searchable. I maintain a small number of friends and contacts on both of these pages. I plan to maintain these strategies for these two sites. I found my graduate student listing at the Dale Center for the Study of War and Society at University of Southern Mississippi as well. I think I need to tidy up my profile at this site a bit.
I also Googled myself with the inclusion of the state of “New Hampshire” where I lived and worked for over a decade, to see if the results were different. Here I encountered some more of my digital presence – my ancient Instagram account (which I abandoned long ago), photos of me at my old cardio-kickboxing gym, my ratings as a college instructor at ratemyprofessor.com (I’ve got a 5 out of 5 based upon two students…very nice reviews 😊). There is also a smattering of stuff about my previous archaeology projects in New England (reports, news articles), my old business New England Archaeology Company, my two-year stint on the town environmental committee for Newton, NH…all in all, a strange smattering of stuff. I was pleasantly surprised to find that one of my archaeological reports was cited as a reference in a master’s thesis out of the University of Connecticut! I have to say, it is very gratifying to see that my prior work is actually being utilized in an academic context…very gratifying indeed.
In their Profhacker blog, Posner, Varner and Croxall made several recommendations for academics considering bolstering their online profile. I think I am going to follow much of their advice. In their blog, “Creating Your Web Presence” they provide advice for junior academics about improving your digital profile. I’m going to create a Google Profile page and an Academia.edu page. I do not yet have a Twitter page, and I am still weighing whether or not I should. In Cordell’s Prof. hacker blog, “Creating and Maintaining a Professional Presence Online” he argues that budding academics should have a Twitter account. I define myself as an American Civil War historian in training, an archaeologist (although not currently active on any archaeology projects) and potentially a digital humanities person (in training, of course!). We’ll see…I’m still giving it some thought. I was also considering placing some of my research papers onto my (newly established) website but was uncertain if I should or not. I would like to highlight some of the recent historical research I have engaged in, so others could get a sense of my research and writing capabilities. Perhaps I can post up some “samples”, i.e., small sections of some of my research papers? I’m looking for some more advice regarding that.
It just so happens that I am a U.S. Civil War focused historian, AND in this Digital Humanities course we will be working on the “Civil War and Reconstruction Governors of Mississippi” project this semester. Can the stars align any better for me, yes, please and thank you?!?! For this project, participants should be responsible for making sure that all documents are treated fairly and respectfully in terms of the contents they contain and the variety of persons who sent these letters to Mississippi’s Civil War Era governors. As history has occurred in Mississippi’s past, we’ll need to be sensitive to issues regarding racism, and take care not to publish anything that could be construed as offensive into the online environment. For example, I am hoping/planning to work on creating a digital map(s) for a series of riots that occurred as a result of the military draft in the Union. The riots began as a result of people resisting forced conscription into the military, because it would upset their tenuous home living situations during an already chaotic time of war. The riots subsequently “devolved” into vandalism and violent acts upon three groups – prowar Republicans, immigrants (primarily Germans) and African Americans. Ethnicity appears to be an underlying factor in the causes and outcomes of these draft riots. Ethically, it will be important to remain sensitive to the situations that each of these groups were historically undergoing, in order to effectively interpret why the draft triggered such virulent rioting responses.
 Mandy Ranslow, “An Analysis of Phase I Surveys in New England” (master’s thesis, University of Connecticut, 2008), 96, accessed January 28, 2021, https://www.academia.edu/1263396/An_Analysis_of_Phase_I_Surveys_in_New_England?email_work_card=view-paper