I’m in the process of taking a carving knife to Social Media for Academics so expect more snippets to follow:
As Deborah Lupton has observed in her Digital Sociology, “Some academics are concerned that if their conference papers are live-tweeted at conferences, audio- or videotaped, blogged abut, or otherwise shared on social media by others their new and original ideas may be misrepresented or stolen before they have a change to fully develop them”. Even this assumes that the reporting is accurate. It can be extremely difficult to summarise complex ideas in 140 characters or less, even if you’ve understood the speaker perfectly. Attribution in live tweeting can be a difficult issue. To what extent can established norms about citation be respected in 140 characters or less? It could be argued that for sustained commentary this might be less of an issue, if it is a continual stream then as long as the start and end of talks is marked (such as “The next speaker is @person1 talking about live tweeting” and “That was a great talk by @person1. Next we have @person2”) ambiguity about the source of the content being summarised is minimised, if not eliminated entirely. The presence of the hashtag can help in this respect, though as discussed below it should be chosen carefully, insofar as it helps signpost the fact that a given tweet is related to a particular event. However this is far from conclusive in addressing the problem and the risk remains that a casual reader, something which it might be safest to assume most users of Twitter are at least most of the time, might assume that a tweet by a live tweeter summarising a talk is in fact the work of the live tweeter themselves.