A couple of months ago I posted a short blog entry under the heading ‘Can academics manage without Twitter?’. It was only a short post, of around 400 words, but it attracted attention in a way that I’ve not experienced with any other post on this blog (which is now about 390 posts). It is my most viewed individual post, it also got shared around 150 times on Twitter and Facebook and it also got re-blogged in a few places. The piece was just a brief attempt to think about the potential value of joining Twitter. I was trying to decide if it was worth joining Twitter. In the end I decided to join ( @davidgbeer ). I’d noticed that the academic community had been growing on Twitter, and it seemed like it was a good place to keep up with new developments. It’s definitely turned out to be true, I’ve found out stuff on Twitter that I’d probably have missed out on. I’ve also been able to drive some additional traffic to this blog. But most of all I was interested in looking at Twitter to see the politics of circulation in action in the formation and communication of academic knowledge. My post on academics and Twitter is a good example of this, it circulated in unpredictable ways. I was surprised how much attention it got, particularly as it was only a short piece with a few reflections. It suggests how unpredictable these social media can be and it forces is to question how certain bits of content become visible, while others get swallowed up. Once the post got tweeted by people with lots of followers, it then began to get shared and shared. I was able to watch this happen, and it gave me some insight in to how knowledge circulates in social media. This was really interesting and has helped me to begin to develop the ideas that I started here but which I’m hoping to develop in a future piece.
My colleague David Hill has recently followed up on my post with some further reflections on the way that academics are actually using Twitter. David asks how academics manage their Twitter account. He provides some really interesting examples that show how this medium is used in communicating around different types if academic issues. I agree with him that some caution is needed but that in some cases it might facilitate solidarity in important collective issues. It’s going to be interesting to see how Twitter and other social media become embedded in academic practice, and to see how they reshape academic knowledge formation and communication over the coming years. David Hill provides some good examples that indicate just some of the ways that this is already happening.