Using social media to ‘inhabit the attentiveness of another writer’

There’s a lovely reflection in Les Back’s Academic Diary, released soon by Goldsmiths Press, concerning the role of Twitter in academic life. He suggests that Twitter sometimes facilitates our “inhabiting the attentiveness of another writer” by providing “signposts pointing to things going on in the world: a great article, an important book, a breaking story”. Through the things that others share, we sometimes enter into their world and participate in an economy of “hunches and tips” which is the “lifeblood of scholarship”.

This is a useful reminder of the value that Twitter can hold for those already using the platforms. But it’s also wise guidance for those who have just started and find the whole thing baffling. No idea what to post? Share what you’re looking at, what you’re reading, what’s gripping you and why. Share the ‘hunches and tips’ which animate you and respond to others when they do the same. These exchanges are the value of Twitter for academics and they’re no different in kind from those which take place within universities each and every day.