Social media for academics and the risk of becoming ‘TED heads’

One of the anxieties I’ve regularly encountered about social media for academics is that it might lead to a devaluing of academic culture. What if I were to tell you that the spectre haunting the imagination of academics is the TED talK?

There’s a lovely expression used by Linsey McGoey in her No Such Thing as a Free Gift, ‘TED Heads’:

amiable entrepreneurs and executives who congregate at exorbitantly priced TED events around the world, flocking to headline events (‘ speaking innovation to power’; ‘branding for good’) with the earnestness of a Grateful Deadhead on his fifth tour.

Vacuous thought leadership, nuggets of easy digestible platitudes, perfect for cultivating vast audiences of overly-influential idiots. It’s a compelling vision, as far as fears go. It’s one founded on a conflation of simplification and being simplistic. But it’s nonetheless something which advocates of social media for academics need to do more to counter substantively, rather than merely dismiss.

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