Can academics manage without Twitter?

Following David Hill’s post about joining Twitter, I’ve been thinking again about joining Twitter. A few months I posted about Twitter. In that post I spoke about my concerns of constant connection and the work it seemed to require, amongst other things. I’m not so concerned now, but for some reason I’m still resisting joining Twitter. The question this has led me to is about the necessity of joining Twitter. Is it possible to be an academic without being on Twitter? Can an academic manage without Twitter?

In trying to answer this question I’ve been searching around and looking at the content of academic Twitter profiles (including journals, departments and societies as well as individuals). I’ve also been chatting with colleagues. What I’m finding is that Twitter seems to have rapidly become the place to find out about what is going on in the academic world. It would seem that there is something about Twitter, more than any other social media, that seems to suit academics. The result seems to be that academic life is being remediate a on a large scale. Not only is information about opportunities (including job, publishing and speaking opportunities) passing around freely, but Twitter seems to be making aspects of academic practice more visible. We can see what is going on where, who has achieved what, where people are moving to, and so on. I’m wondering if this is going to increasingly mean that you need a good reason to avoid Twitter. I’m increasingly getting the sense that I’m likely to miss stuff, or that I’m likely to fall out of the loop. Plus, of course, there is the visibility that comes with an established Twitter profile. Maybe resistance is futile. Maybe this is the new space for academic life to thrive. I’ll probably join in soon. But this remediation of academic life, and the underlying politics of data circulation, are going to need some attention soon. The ease with which Twitter has been absorbed into academic practice is interesting in itself. It will probably be worth thinking through the ways in which it is restructuring academic practice and communication – and how it amplifies certain voices amongst the noise of Tweets. I’m hoping to build some of these questions into an article I’m about to start.

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13 Responses to Can academics manage without Twitter?

  1. Excellent discussion. Here at Brazil, we use Twitter and blogs with intensity for academic and research goals. I’m a beginning teacher, but several opportunities came from my use of Twitter and blogs to communicate my works. Recently, the Lattes platform (brazilian platform for academic resumes) began to allow researchers add links to social media profiles, to encourage science communication to public.

    I’m following your work for some time (since the paper on social network/ing sites) and I “googled” “david beer twitter” to find your Twitter handle, because, to me, it’s already a standard practice follow my academic references.

    Join Twitter! It’s useful and fun. 🙂

  2. I tried to find you on Twitter the other day too! I find it great to make connections, chat about interesting issues with people in different countries and time zones (especially an issue for us here in the southern hemisphere, share one’s own research and that of others, publicise events and respond to immediate issues.

  3. I second what Deborah said. She influenced me strongly to move this way and she was spot on. What i notice, however, is how FEW of he more senior academics are on it. Disappointing.

  4. BTW: this Tweet which I have copied in here might also interest you. “Why do some academics hate blogging and social media? @thesiswhisperer investigates!
    you’ll find me–if you sign up 🙂 — @StephenMugford

  5. Tim Harrap says:

    You couldn’t do better than hook up with Howard Rheingold

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