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.