Tagged: social media for academics Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Mark 11:05 am on December 5, 2019 Permalink
    Tags: , social media for academics   

    A video introduction to Social Media for Academics 

    How has social media changed since the first edition of this book?

    (More …)

     
  • Mark 9:47 am on July 3, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: social media for academics   

    The public role of academics in a social media era 

    It’s difficult to be precise about how many academics use social media, as it depends on what is meant by ‘use’ and ‘social media’. For example how do we draw a consistent boundary between personal and professional use when social media tends to complicate this distinction in all manner of ways? Furthermore what counts as ‘social media’ and how do we distinguish this from older forms of media which are themselves obviously social? Nonetheless, there is now a substantial evidence base which finds a significant trend in academics using social media for seemingly professional purposes. There are good reasons to expect this will continue to grow, reflecting the entrenchment of social media within wider social life, the competitive dynamics which ensue when some people gain benefits from it and its perceived relevance to the third mission of the university beyond teaching and research. This has important implications for how we think about the public role of academics and I’d like to suggest a few points for discussion as part of our session at the Doxa summer school:

    • What does it mean to make scholarly ideas public? If it’s more than a matter of simply disseminating knowledge to a wider audience than would read a scholarly journal, can we say what this additional element is? There’s a common sense here which tends to see it as a matter of removing constraints on the circulation of ideas i.e. taking research out of paywalled journals, removing scholarly jargon which makes things difficult to read, addressing real world problems. But could this be a matter of supply when the real question is demand. Who wants to use the knowledge which has been produced and what do they want to use it for?
    • What does social media mean for scientific objectivity? The ideal of objectivity has involved the removal of the personal from public interaction whereas social media encourages its insertion. See for example the later chapters of this excellent book by William Davies for an exploration of what this means for expertise. The public pronouncements of academics can be seized upon for their apparent bias. Arguments can be more easily attached to personalities in a way which undercuts the established norms of scholarly exchange. There’s a fundamental tension which raises questions about how academics use social media. Should they strive for a detached professional image in order to preserve objectivity? Or can we embrace the personalisation which social media encourages and try to adapt scholarly norms and practices to it?
    • Particularly within the critical social sciences, there is a tendency to invoke the ‘public’ as a politically salient force. But what happens when academics have unplanned and unpredictable meetings with members of this public through social media? How do they respond when people are not interested in what they do? How do they respond when people are explicitly hostile to it? How do they cope if attacked by reactionary forces? What support is available under these conditions?
    • If social media makes it easier for academics to work with the media, how do these collaborations unfold in practice? At what point does understandable fear of vulgarisation become a unjustified rejection of the expertise of print journalists or broadcast researchers who understand the constraints of mass communication much better than academics do? The public role which social media affords involves encounters with other forms of expertise for which academics might be poorly equipped.

     

     
    • landzek 12:13 pm on July 3, 2019 Permalink

      And what about all the people that will have an opinion but who don’t really understand the issue?

      I’d like the idea of a partition; the work of knowledge occurs behind a wall that is semi permeable, and what comes back through the wall from the public sphere is considered and taken with some salt. Thought of for what it actually is. But I think this happened even without SM, come to think of it.

      Then there’s the notion that intellectual discourse never approaches the “public”. The public just does shit regardless, and the intellectual discussion about it thinks itself into what the public is doing, but never actually reaches it. Like a self-fulfilling prophecy.

    • Mark 9:36 pm on July 7, 2019 Permalink

      agree v much

  • Mark 7:19 pm on March 3, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Ehrenreich, , social media for academics   

    Social media as a living CV for academics 

    This weekend I went back to my CV for the first time in a year and a half, condensing it down from nine pages into two pages for a particular application. Any work on it is always a strange and alienating experience. As Barbara Ehrenreich has put it, CVs “should have an odd, disembodied tone, as if [your] life had been lived by some invisible Other” (pg 28). This is even more the case when it comes to condensing what you have done. Selecting some things to make the cut while abandoning others in a process that abstracts even further from why you did these things and what they meant to you. A CV is a uniquely alienated and alienating form of life writing.

    It once more made me think about how social media can function as a living CV, documenting the qualities which structure and convention obscure in the formal document. It provides background and context, reconstructing the lived engagements which are lost when they are reduced to a single item in a last. The ensuing living CV isn’t a document which can be scanned in one go, hence the problem when it is treated like this and superficial judgements of someone’s recent posts stand in for a sustained engagement with their online activity. But there’s something interesting here about how we represent ourselves in professional settings, as well as how others interpret those representations.

     
  • Mark 10:46 am on February 26, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: social media for academics   

    I’ve finally finished the second edition of Social Media for Academics 

    1. Rewritten line by line, including new ideas, insights, suggestions, references
    2. One huge new chapter (the dark side of social media)
    3. One 50% rewritten chapter
    4. New forward with lots of substantive content & overview of my approach to SMA
    5. Large new section on podcast, videocasting, live streaming, working with freelancers
    6. Large new section on using social media to help inform and support research projects
    7. New section on hybrid forms of publication
    8. New advice on Facebook groups, Live blogging, planning hashtags
    9. New section on planning an impact strategy
    10. New conversations featured with Dave Beer, Roger Burrows, Petra Boynton, Emma Jackson and Deborah Lupton.
    11. New section on e-mail marketing and newsletters
    12. Extended section on using images and how it can go wrong
    13. Extended section on finding your voice online, including with multimedia projects
    14. Additional recommended reading for every chapter
    15. Somehow consumed more intellectual and emotional energy than the first edition did and is being submitted six months late 😬
     
    • Kai 8:57 pm on March 5, 2019 Permalink

      Excellent news! Any idea when this will hit the shops?

    • Mark 5:00 pm on March 8, 2019 Permalink

      Just confirmed today: October 😀

    • Kai 10:37 am on March 12, 2019 Permalink

      Super – got it in my diary 😉

  • Mark 2:27 pm on February 9, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: social media for academics,   

    😪 How not to prepare the second edition of a book 😪 

    I’m increasingly hopeful that I’ll submit the second edition of Social Media for Academics to Sage next week, meeting a deadline which I suspect my editor had expected I would break. The book is six months overdue, I’ve broken countless deadlines and the impending date was only agreed after a period in which we agreed to withdraw any deadline in order to counter the anxiety which was making it hard for me to write. Sitting in my office on a Saturday afternoon, I’m finishing the final chapter which needs copy editing before I turn to the two chapters and introduction that require substantive work. It seems like a good time to reflect on what went wrong, with a second edition that has been objectively massively behind schedule and subjectively a nightmare to produce.

    It was a project I thought would be easy. I feel ridiculous admitting that I’d effectively set aside two weeks of work to prepare the second edition. The first edition had been so well reviewed that I felt all I needed was to insert some new material to take account of what had changed on social media in the preceding years. I had been blogging regularly using a category on my blog, I’d given over 60 talks in which I’d developed new ideas and I’d had countless suggestions from people who had read the first edition. My plan was to spend time producing copy on each new topic before going through the text line by line to find where I could fit these in.

    This was a big mistake because I rapidly generated vast amounts of text which didn’t fit substantively or stylistically into the existing book. In turn the process of going through it line by line eroded its structure, leaving me feeling as if I was sitting weeping in the ruins of a neatly turned out home that I’d caused to collapse in a reckless act of home repair. The project quickly became unmanageable because I had little traction upon (a) the scope and remit of the new material I’d produced to go into the book (b) the structure into which this material had to be fitted. By traction I mean a sense of how what was in front of me as I wrote or edited connected to a broader context.

    I’ve often been fascinated by the experience of producing a text as a totality. That moment when you hold a thesis in your hands for the first time and this project which had dominated your life suddenly becomes an object you can easily manipulate. The second edition of Social Media for Academics has involved that process in reverse, as the objectivity of the text evaporated into a dispiriting horizon of unmet deadlines and postponed commitments. By simply piling up the new material in blog posts, Scrivener notes and artefact cards without any attempt to link these together, it was inevitable I was going to find myself drowning in ideas. I gripped onto the existing structure of the book in the hope it could keep me afloat but I simply pulled it into the ocean as well.

    It occurs to me now that my mistake was a simple one. I should have read through the whole text, making free form notes, before trying to do anything else. Furthermore, in the last few years of being increasingly busy, I’d become adept at producing ephemera: short talks, blog posts, fragments of writing. But I’d gradually lost the habit of connecting these things together and making sense of what I’d been producing. My thoughts didn’t condense in the way they used to, both as a consequence of less mental bandwidth and less inclination to do the connective work upon which creativity depends. The combination of jumping straight into editing without having imposed any order on what I was trying to incorporate goes much of the way to explaining the disaster which has been my experience of producing this second edition.

    The only thing that made it tractable in the end was printing out each chapter, going through it with a pen to rewrite, restructure and extend. Not all of my new material has survived and I’m still nervous that there are topics I’ve missed out. But it’s a much tighter book as a result of this process, in spite of being substantially longer. It’s also left me reflecting on the approach I take to my work and made me realise the importance of ordering what I do. This used to happen automatically, as I thought and reflected in the course of days which had a quantity of unstructured time that now seems a distant memory to me. It’s also something I did through blogging, using this as a mechanism to elaborate upon my ideas in order to connect things together. I never stopped blogging but something about the process has changed. It became more efficient, producing units of thought across a diverse range of topics, while leaving these fragmented from each other. I’d rarely stop to write a blog post when I was seized by what C Wright Mills called the feel of an idea, something which I used to do regularly and inevitably left me with the experience of a connection between things that had previously seemed disconnected.

    This blog post is an example of this process and I feel much clearer about what went wrong as a result. It’s taken more time and energy than would have been involved in writing a new book. I now know how not to produce the second edition of a book. But I’m quite proud of the result and I hope people like it.

     
    • Sourav Roy 2:44 pm on February 9, 2019 Permalink

      “sitting weeping in the ruins of a neatly turned out home that I’d caused to collapse in a reckless act of home repair. …printing out …going through it with a pen to rewrite, restructure and extend” :O Going through this right now. Not for any second edition though, second chapter of a first draft. :O

    • Mark 4:25 pm on February 9, 2019 Permalink

      good luck!

    • Sourav Roy 2:49 am on February 10, 2019 Permalink

      💜

  • Mark 12:41 pm on October 25, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , social media for academics,   

    An introduction to social media for academics 

    I’m currently in Zurich preparing for a panel on social media, organised by the CareerElixier group. I was sent some questions in advance and I’m writing up responses in order to gather my thoughts. 

    Why is social media a subject for academics?

    Social media is a subject for academics because it is a subject for everyone. How we all communicate is undergoing a profound change and this is something academics need to be aware of, if for no other reason than the students, administrators, funders, stakeholders and research participants are likely to be part of this change to varying degrees. At the very least, it is something academics need to have an awareness of and there are specific benefits which can be accrued if they wish to go further by using it in a professional capacity.

    Why should they participate and use the channels?

    There are lots of ways in which social media can be beneficial for academics. It can help increase your visibility within your field, encourage people to read your publications, keep up to date with developments, build wider professional networks and collaborate with groups outside the academy. But it also makes a more open, collaborative and interdisciplinary form of scholarship possible by empowering scholarly networks and leaving them less dependent on the traditional gatekeepers of academic life. Therefore I think we need to strike a balance between focusing on how individual academics might benefit from using these channels and how it might enhance scholarly culture as a whole.

    How should they use these channels?

    I don’t think there’s a single answer to this question. In fact the idea there is a ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to use social media can often get in the way of people coming to an approach that is right for them. There are certainly things its best to avoid doing, such as berating your colleagues online. But beyond that it depends on what you want to achieve. Are you trying to build better connections with people within your field? Are you trying to make public groups more aware of your research in order to collaborate with them? Are you trying to draw out the political implications of your research in a public forum? What matters to me is helping people find a way to use these channels which is satisfying and sustainable for them.

    Do you use social media for professional reasons?

    The short answer to this question would be ‘yes’. The long answer would be that it depends on what you mean by ‘professional’. For instance I’ve used a blog for almost 15 years as a place to write on what I’ve been reading and thinking about. As I undertook a PhD, the contents of that blog became much more academic and I setup a new blog with a specific research focus around 8 years ago to reflect this. But even now I often use it for things which don’t relate directly to my work and yet would be recognised by many people as academic. I use social media to find, share and discus things I’m interested in. Many of those things relate to my work but others don’t. Increasingly, I try to sustain a common professional identity across the different social media platforms I use but there’s still lots of things which aren’t obviously ‘professional’ on there. Orthodox notions of what constitutes ‘professional’ are likely to be unsettled by social media so they are of limited use in guiding how we take up these platforms in our working lives.

    Why do you use social media for these reasons?

    Two reasons stand out in my use of social media. Firstly, the endless opportunities for thinking out loud in a way liable to generate debate. Blogging has been incredibly valuable to me as a means of finding my academic voice, developing my intellectual outlook and practicing my writing. Particularly with the extended character limit Twitter has been a valuable outlet for testing out ideas in public and working up  hunches and intuitions into a form I can use elsewhere. My use of social media has helped provide intellectual coherence to what might otherwise have been a fragmented career, working on a range of what might seem to others to be unconnected topics (critical realist theory, asexuality, social media, big data, higher education) undertaken in a range of different roles. Secondly, its enormously powerful as a means of promoting events, helping reduce the time and energy involved in getting word out about events I’m running. I enjoy organising events and I’ve tried hard to build a network of people likely to be interested in and possibly attend what I’m working on.

    A slightly more unusual reason is that I use social media as an academic in order to better understand how academics use social media. As a point of methodology, if we want to understand these platforms then it is important we have experience of using them, particularly when our research relates to a particular professional sector. For instance I began using Instagram and Pinterest largely because I felt it was important for me to understand how these platforms operated from the perspective of a user. In this sense, I have an auto-ethnographic orientation towards my own use of social media, though it often lags behind my own practice and involves making sense of the habits and routines I’ve fallen into.

    What general benefits does the use of social media provide for academics?

    As above: There are lots of ways in which social media can be beneficial for academics. It can help increase your visibility within your field, encourage people to read your publications, keep up to date with developments, build wider professional networks and collaborate with groups outside the academy. But it also makes a more open, collaborative and interdisciplinary form of scholarship possible by empowering scholarly networks and leaving them less dependent on the traditional gatekeepers of academic life. Therefore I think we need to strike a balance between focusing on how individual academics might benefit from using these channels and how it might enhance scholarly culture as a whole.

    What kind of social media are useful in the academic context and for what purpose?

    One of the defining characteristics of scholarly work is how much information we work with. Digital technology makes the problem worse, by contributing to an objective increase in what is available by lowering costs of publication and subjectively leaving us more aware of what we haven’t read or engaged with. Social media can help us filter this abundance by letting us follow people who provide recommendations about what is worth engaging with. Curation tools like Pinterest, Scoop.It, Padlet and Wakelet further help us organise what we find in a way which is useful to others. We need to adapt our information management practices to take account of the abundance of material available to us, otherwise we’re likely to be overwhelmed by social media.

    Social networks like ResearchGate and Academia.Edu are becoming more popular and they clearly serve a purpose, in so far as people are using them to share pre-publication papers and navigate the scholarly literature. However I’m somewhat suspicious of them because we don’t know what their long term commercial strategy will be but we can be certain it will involve trying to make money from the work that academics have freely offered to these platforms. Furthermore, it risk detracting from non-commercial repositories which are surely a better avenue for sharing in the longer term. Mass market social networks might be a better bet, with Twitter being the obvious example but professional uses that can be made of Facebook and LinkedIn. These can provide low maintenance tools for keeping track of people whose work we find interesting & for allowing them to keep track of ours, including sharing links to our own pre-publication work where appropriate. Non-commercial alternatives like Mastodon or Humanities Commons are exciting projects but face the challenge of network effects, as the value of a platform is dependent upon the network of its users. By framing it in this way, I’m compounding the problem by imbuing it with an aura of inevitability but nonetheless it cannot simply be wished away.

    While project management software like Slack, Basecamp or Trello aren’t usually categorised as ‘social media’, they have enormous potential to enrich how academics work together. My experience has been that it’s hard to get people to use these packages because they rely on all members of a team developing new habits at the same time. But there’s a potential to radically reshape how academics work together, in ways liable to save time and increase creative engagement between people working at a distance. Trello in particular is one I’ve become hugely enthusiastic about, depending as it does on defining a workflow within a team. I’ve found it surprising how much academic collaboration happens without an explicitly agreed workflow and suspect this would seem extremely strange to people in most other sectors. Taking advantage of project management software involves coming to terms with these challenges and I think this is a good thing, even if it can make it tricky to get started.

    Which social media do you recommend using as an academic in particular?

    I suspect most academics in the humanities and social sciences would benefit from having a research blog. Regularly writing about what you’re reading, struggling with or reflecting on can be enormously enriching for anyone who spends time working alone with ideas. It can also function as a personal website, providing you with an independent professional identity above and beyond your university affiliation. Use of a social network is going to be increasingly important, as a means of being visible to one’s peers and keeping track of developments but it depends on which social networks are most prominent amongst your academic community. Beyond that, I think it’s a matter of what you’re trying to achieve. I feel unhelpful saying that but I worry a lot of bad advice proliferates due to people over-generalising about their own academic community and institutional context.

    What kind of ‘strategies’ do exist with dealing with social media? E.g. non-users, skeptical/passive users, enthusiastic users.

    This is a really interesting question and we need to be really careful about how we answer it. For instance what’s seen as passive use might in fact be immensely active e.g. using it in a focused way as a tool for following conversations and developments. Characterising this as passivity might put people off using social media in a way which can be enormously beneficial for them. Lurking is a very scholarly thing to do, I think, even though it tends to lead to invisibility on platforms which hierarchise users in terms of the prominence of their speech. Likewise enthusiastic users might be characterised as unfocused users, drawn into the behavioural nudges through which platforms seek to continually increase user engagement to the detriment of their own work. How we characterise these strategies can often contain unacknowledged value judgements and encode understandings of what platforms are supposed to be used for. Nonetheless, I am concerned that what Zhu and Purdam call academic ‘super-users’ dominate discussions about how these platforms should be used by academics. Their experiences or motivations are not typical of most academics yet they are most heard in discussions about how academics should use social media, partly due to being cast in the role of advocates for social media and partly due to the attention economy of the platforms themselves.

    Is the distribution of these strategies connected with social attributes?

    This is a really good question and to the best of my knowledge, there’s not a clear empirical answer to this in the developing research literature. It might be possible to piece one together if one did a literature review with this specific question in mind. There is clear evidence of enthusiastic use amongst the extremely junior and very senior, with the strategies of the ‘middle’ being something which needs further research. I’m particularly interested in academics who join social media and then leave, as people whose experiences tend to be obscured by how empirical investigations inevitably focus on users or non-users.

    If one decides to use social media professionally: is there a best-practice strategy?

    I honestly don’t think there is a best-practice strategy because optimal outcomes depend so much on who you are what you want to achieve. Therefore the only best-practice strategy I could suggest would be to be clear about why you are using social media. What do you hope to achieve? The more clearly you can answer that question, the easier it will be to decide on what social media to use and how to use them. Beyond this, it’s just a matter of offering tips or guidelines: sharing things you care about, having a bias towards connecting with others, tell a story about yourself through your profile. Modelling other people’s behaviour can also help. If someone’s behaviour on social media  irritates you, can you articulate precisely why it irritates you? If you like someone’s behaviour, can you be clear about what appeals to you? These can be really useful questions to ask when trying to work out a mode of use which is right for you.

    What do academics need to know to communicate effectively via social media?

    Feeling comfortable with these platforms is a crucial precondition for communicate effectively and it often tends to get overlooked. One reason I’m so preoccupied with dispelling the idea there is a ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ way to use social media is my concern it gets in the way of people finding their own voice. How do you find a way to communicate which is comfortable for you, consistent with your professional ambitions, leaves you feeling able to post without agonising over each sentencers while not leaving you so informal as to be taking unnecessary risks? It’s a tricky process and I think few people achieve it, with hasty generalisations about effective communications producing all manner of stumbling blocks. Therefore I think we should restrict ourselves to tips and guidelines, such as being sensitive to the norms of the platform you are using (e.g. avoid posting animated GIFs on LinkedIn, avoid posting your CV on Twitter) and taking the time to explore what it will let you do and what it won’t let you do (e.g. Instagram only provides extremely limited ways of pointing people beyond the platform).

    How do you handle multiple audiences? E.g. future employers, academics, multiple publics

    This is a really tricky one. We’re used to deal with these different groups in specific contexts yet on social media they all come together in a way that can be really challenging. A message meant for one group, assuming certain background information, can be read by all the others who might not share those assumptions. Furthermore, we can’t know how far a message might percolate outwards, completely leaving behind its original context. The key thing is understand these risks and finding ways to manage them, because the only way to avoid them completely is to either avoid social media all together or cultivate a sufficiently anodyne style that we never say anything that could possibly be misinterpreted by anyone. Thus we would stand little chance of ever saying anything at all. Therefore we need to map out who are audiences are and try to understand what conflicts, if any, exist between them. For instance people often skip over stuff that is irrelevant to them, as long as it doesn’t constitute the bulk of what they see. I’ve always like Paul Krugman’s strategy of simply labelling certain posts as for other economists and policy professionals, as opposed to his usual readership which has a broader interest in politics.

    Using social media can take a lot of time. How do you see the discrepancy between using time for social media presence versus time for your research?

    One of the risks is that social media becomes a black hole for your time. From the perspective of the firms running these platforms, the more time you spend on them the better because they’re reliant on your time, energy and data to make money. Therefore it’s important to avoid falling into these traps, for instance getting too preoccupied with pursuing followers at all cost. In my experience, the people who use social media most effectively, in the sense that they get a lot out of it both personally and professionally, have made it part of their workflow. It’s part of their normal working routines (e.g. they do the initial preparation for a panel for a blog post, crowd source information via Twitter or share a draft slide deck through Slideshare to get comments) as opposed to be something outside their usual work. If you start putting ‘write blog post’, ‘send tweets’ on a to do list then you’re unlikely to be enjoying what you’re doing or get much out of it. Other things will inevitably intrude in this case. Using scheduling software can also be an important strategy here, though that’s a big topic in its own right and it feels a bit weird to do it for personal accounts in my experience.

    How do you handle the fact that content normally connote be deleted and leaves long-term traceable information about one’s person?

    There are things you can use to address this problem, such as using a service like TweetDelete to automatically all tweets past a certain date or archiving old blogs and taking them offline. But these can’t ensure the content has been deleted. For instance others might have saved it or might be available through a web archiving project. One crass response to this is to say that you shouldn’t share anything you wouldn’t stand by later. But the problem is that we don’t know we will change or how society will change in the future, making it hard to identify those things which prove problematic at a later day. To follow through in a truly cautious way would risk leaving us unable to say anything online. Therefore it becomes a matter of managing risk: occasionally auditing your profiles with a critical eye to see if there might be things which you would later regret, recognising the public character of what you share even if it feels like you are sharing it with a close group or having a statement of purpose which illuminates the context of what you are sharing e.g. noting that a blog ism or sharing work in progress.

    However these are fairly unsatisfying when you really begin to think through the problem. Academics have always been made statements which they are held to, the problem is that social media personalise those statements (contrary to centuries of scholarly norm), archive them by default and do so in a way which is potentially searchable. After an argument with staff at a right-think tank on Twitter I once found a prominent journalist looking back through years of tweets and retweeting examples of Marxist academia. It’s unnerving when this happens and I’m aware my status as a white middle-class man who mostly talks to other academics makes it unlikely I’ll ever be a major target of it. There’s a huge change underway where which we need to grapple with in the academy and beyond, relating to how we conceive of responsibility and ownership. It’s a matter for political theory as much as it is for social media.

    Is social media use becoming an obligation for academics? If yes, how can academics evade it?

    I think it is in the UK but there are quite specific reasons for this, relating to the pressure to demonstrate research impact and the fact there’s still relatively little understand of how to install this at an institutional level. I’d love to find out more about the situation in Switzerland, as I’m aware most of what I understand relates to the American, UK and to a lesser extent Australian contexts.

    How to handle (public) critique and trolls effectively?

    This is a really good question and distinguishing between them at the outset is important. Even if many academics spend a lot of their time talking to each other on social media, sudden encounters with the public are always possible and they’re often unpredictable. It can be jarring to realise external groups might not only be uninterested in our research but in fact be actively hostile to it. I’ve seen countless incidents where academics have responded to what might be deemed critique by others and labelled it as trolling. The ‘troll’ is an ambiguous category and in some ways its an unhelpful term, having changing from the deliberate trickster of internet culture to a. catch-all term for someone whose online behaviour we object to.

    Nonetheless, the risk in suggesting academics might sometimes not take critique well is that we understate the problem of harassment which is huge and growing. As the educational technologist Audrey Watters has argued, online harassment reflects offline harassment but it also reflects design features of platforms which have incentivised and amplified this behaviour. If you haven’t encountered these toxic cultures, type ‘social justice warrior’ into YouTube and look through some videos and comments threads. This is a huge problem and I’m conscious when discussing it that I’m never going to be on the receiving end of it, simply because it is massively targeted at women and people of colour rather than beardy white middle class theory bros. In the context of this, my making practical suggestions such as looking for red flags in someone’s behaviour (for instance are they tweeting similar comments to many others? does their behaviour suggest a genuine interest in debate?) and blocking proactively seem like trite responses to a societal problem. We need to make this issue prominent though, not least of all because mainstreaming social media within university creates an economy of reward in which white men will be doubly privileged because they can be ‘engaged academics’ without having to deal with the vast amounts of emotional labour and psychic assault which others endure.

    What are the main legal issues and issues regarding data protection?

    At least in the UK context, there’s still a naiveté concerning publishing online. Many people seem to see it as something informal or pre-legal when it really isn’t. Increasing contestation of academic speech might drive awareness of these issues as people begin to recognise the potential consequences to online action. The thankfully declining sense of ‘online’ as a virtual space distinct from ‘offline’ will help in this regards. In terms of data protection, I think GDPR principles are likely to filter down and they provide excellent common sense ways of making sense of data protection even beyond their sphere of application. But my understanding would be there aren’t specific data protection concerns applying to social media under GPDR, unless you’re scraping profile data to be stored in a database, as the firm itself is the responsible entity.

    Would you use social media in an activist sense – what are the pros and cons?

    A colleague I interviewed for my book, Gurminder Bhambra, said something about this which really stuck with me: what’s the point of having a political opinion which is private? I think she’s right and social media provides an enticing forum for this, providing a platform for academics to talk in a way orientated towards audience outside the academy.  Nonetheless, we have to be clear about what we mean when we talk about using it it an ‘activist sense’. What is it we’re trying to achieve exactly? There’s a risk that social media becomes an echo chamber, in which our opinions are reflected back to us. It can be a powerful tool for building solidarity and sharing information but its activist value comes as part of a strategy which extends beyond it.

    Is it academics’ responsibility to communicate via social media with the public?

    There’s a softer version of this claim which often gets overlooked. Rather than it being a responsibility to communicate via social media with the public, it is a responsibility to make work open in a way that members of the public can find it if they’re interested. This shift towards openness is less of an undertaking than a claim of responsibility for active communication and it’s more easily supported by institutional provision. I’d subscribe to this but I’m not sure how I feel about basing that claim in terms of government funding which is often how it’s made in the UK. I’d much rather frame it in terms of rendering public goods (potentially) accessible, a radical extension of what teaching has always done. If we present it as a quid pro quo for government spending then we’ve already conceded a great deal of political ground.

     

     
  • Mark 10:11 am on April 13, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , social media for academics, , ,   

    Persistance, Searchability and Incivility 

    This essay on ‘the cult of cruelty’ has some interesting points to make about the role of what danah boyd calls persistence and searchability in facilitating incivility online. It makes it possible to trawl through someone’s activity, enabling a degree of engagement with choices and representations that would not otherwise be possible:

    I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately — the ways in which people exact their hurt. It’s common for people to subtweet about their hate-follows and hate-reads. Nothing distinguishes between the hate cultivated for people we know as opposed to strangers — we’re all fair game for someone else’s vitriol. People have no problem playing armchair therapist; they analyze our lives from a computer screen and then proceed to deliver play-by-play commentary on how we should live our lives based on how they live theirs. Many have come to believe that an online representation of one aspect of our lives is the complete story, the whole of our lives. Who we are, the content of our character, is reduced to what we choose to publish. The choices we make — from what we wear to how we parent and whom we love — should be obvious based on the collective’s personal experience and we’re admonished in text or in forums for “not getting it”. We crave authenticity yet we vilify others for their public missteps, for being human. People talk smack behind our backs to then kiss-kiss, hey, how are you? to our face. People leave hateful comments tearing apart our appearance: Why is she naked in every picture on Instagram…ugh! Who does she think she is? Why does she wear such unflattering clothes? If she didn’t want to hear about how bad she looks she shouldn’t be posting pictures of herself online. Apparently, being public is an open invitation for hate, and it’s frightening that groups exist on the Internet devoted to the care and feeding of that hate.

    It also makes it possible to trawl back through the incivility that has been directed at us:

    We live in a country that espouses free speech, but many are forced into silence in fear of the hate avalanche. In a private Facebook group, many women talk about not reading the comments of their published articles out of self-preservation. “Don’t read the comments is a constant refrain. Women leave social media because they’re beaten down by people in fear of losing their privilege. A whole group of people has been reduced to a patronizing “snowflake” moniker because of their inability to toughen up, and it’s as if the Internet has become Darwinian in the sense that only those who hate, and those who can withstand and endure that hate, survive. A few years ago, I was the subject of a man’s ire, someone whom I believe I knew (or at least had come into contact with during my agency career, which makes the whole situation that much more unsettling), who wrote about how much he hated me because I stood up for women who had been ridiculed online because of their appearance. Fifteen years ago, a small circle of literary bloggers posted cruel blind items about me and I remember being at work, in front of my computer, reading these posts and my whole body going numb.t

    There’s an excellent overview of ‘hate reading’ here:

    Underlying all this is a weirdly common human tendency toward “hate-reading.” Call it that for short, at least, because it also includes “hate-listening” and “hate-watching.” In short, many people seem strangely drawn to material that they know, even before they’re exposed to it, will infuriate them. And hate-reading in its purest form involves not just seeking out the aggregated fodder of Media Matters or Newsbusters, but actually going straight to the source: a conservative mainlining Keith Olbermann; a liberal recklessly exposing herself to a Rush Limbaugh monologue.

    A lot of us do this, but why? No one knows for sure, but there are a few potential explanations. One is that hate-reading simply makes us feel good by offering up an endless succession of “the emperor has no clothes” moments with regard to our political adversaries. In this view, we specifically seek out the anti-wisdom of whoever appears dumbest and most hateful as a means of bolstering our own sense of righteousness. “If the commentary is dumb enough, it may actually have a boomerang effect in that it reassures us that our opponents aren’t very smart or accurate,” said Mary McNaughton-Cassill, a media psychologist at the University of Texas San Antonio.

     
  • Mark 11:48 pm on March 1, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , social media for academics, , ,   

    The cultural significance of blogging 

    In his Uberworked and Underpaid, Trebor Scholz offers an important reflection on the cultural significance of blogging. While its uptake has been exaggerated, dependent upon questionable assumptions concerning the relationship between users and blogs, it nonetheless represents a transformation of and expansion of cultural agency which needs to be taken seriously. From loc 3825:

    Web 2.0, to be fair, was incredibly successful as an ideology, a meme, and a marketing ploy with global effects. Already by 2004, the industry claimed that there were some 100 million weblogs. One didn’t have to be a skeptic of numerical reasoning to understand that the claim that everybody on this planet was blogging was based on shaky statistics. Clearly, some of these projections were blind to the digital divide, and overlooked the fact that many weblogs were set up but then never used again. But still, we need to acknowledge that more than a decade after its emergence, blogging had roped millions into a daily writing practice; it made them walk through their lives with the eyes of a participant, somebody who could potentially participate or insert her own perspective.

    This is reminiscent of the appendix to The Sociological Imagination, in which C Wright Mills offers practical advice about ‘keeping one’s inner world awake’. It would be overstating matters to claim blogging is intrinsically tied to the sociological imagination, but the propensity to “insert her own perspective” in a life more likely to be lived “with the eyes of a participant” is something we should take seriously, while refraining from assuming that this flows inexorably from the adoption of blogging as a regular activity.

     
  • Mark 11:32 am on December 29, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , social media for academics,   

    What are ‘recognition triggers’ in scholarly publishing? 

    An interesting concept from John Thompson’s Merchants of Culture which I think has important implications for scholarly publishing. From pg 276-277:

    Oprah and Richard and Judy are prime examples of what I shall call ‘recognition triggers’. I use the term ‘recognition trigger’ to refer to those drivers of sales that have three characteristics. First, they are triggers based on a form of recognition that endows the work with an accredited visibility . Thanks to this recognition, the work is now both visible , picked out from an ocean of competing titles and brought into the consciousness of consumers, and deemed to be worthy of being read , that is, worth not only the money that the consumer would have to pay to buy it but, just as importantly, the time they would have to spend to read it. Visible and worthy: a form of recognition that kills two birds with one stone.

    The second characteristic is that the recognition is bestowed by individuals or organizations other than the agents and organizations that are directly involved in creating, producing and selling the work. Literary agents, publishers and booksellers cannot produce the kind of recognition upon which recognition triggers depend. They can produce other things, like the buzz and excitement that surround an author or a book, and these forms of laudatory talk can have real consequences, as we have seen. But recognition triggers presuppose that those individuals or organizations who bestow the recognition are, and are seen to be, independent in some way and to some extent from the parties that have a direct economic interest in the book’s success. It is this independence and perception of independence that enables recognition triggers to grant worthiness and explains in part why they can have such dramatic effects.

    The third characteristic is that, precisely because recognition is bestowed by individuals and organizations that are independent and seen to be so, it follows that publishers themselves have only a limited ability to influence the decisions that result in the bestowal of recognition, and hence a limited ability to control their effects. They certainly try to influence these decisions where they can, or to second-guess the decision-makers where they can’t directly or indirectly influence them, but at the end of the day the decisions are not theirs. So recognition triggers introduce yet another element of unpredictability into a field that is already heavily laden with serendipity.

    Do these recognition triggers exist in scholarly publishing? The obvious example is the journal system itself. The anonymity of peer review is understood to ensure independence and negotiating the peer review process is understand as a marker of quality signifying the paper is worthy of being read.

    But the over abundance that characterises scholarly publishing has complicated this, as has the growing functional imperative to self-promote one’s own papers. People will be searching for more ‘recognition triggers’, despite not using the concept, leading to all sorts of competitive dynamics which I think we’ll begin to see over the coming years. I suspect many of them will involve social media.

     
  • Mark 2:47 pm on November 20, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , social media for academics,   

    Social Media and Public Sociology 

    Notes for The Practice of Public Sociology

    It can seem obvious that there’s some relationship between social media and public sociology. After all, these are platforms which offer free, instantaneous and immediate access to audiences ranging from the tens of millions to the billions. However unpacking the relationship between social media and public sociology requires we be careful about exactly what we see social media as allowing us to do. Social media platforms allow us to publish in a way that bypasses traditional intermediaries. It facilitates new forms of multimedia engagement. It allows us to do this with an immediacy which couldn’t be further removed from the time-consuming process of traditional scholarly publishing.

    However this isn’t necessarily doing public sociology. Communicating sociological ideas doesn’t entail that anyone hear or responds to them. We can publish work without necessarily making it public. Being clear about the sense in which we’re trying to do public sociology is crucial if we’re going to take advantages of the opportunities it offers us. In our current climate, universities are expecting academics to embrace social media to indicate their capacity for impact, creating a risk that we embrace these platforms without any clear purpose in mind. Without serious thought, there’s a real possibility that, as Bourdieu once put it, we confuse “verbal sparring at conferences for ‘interventions’ in the affairs of the polis”.

    An obvious question then: for what sort of purposes might we use social media as public sociologists?

    • As an extension of traditional public sociology: using social media to try and enter into public conversations, increase the influence of sociological ideas and ensuring sociological findings are prominent within public debates. I paraphrased John Holmwood’s keynote at the BSA a few years ago as advocating that we “occupy debate and make inequality matter”. This has traditionally been through writing books for a wider audience, opinion columns in newspapers and making appearances on national media. Social media can support this activity by making sociologists more easily discoverable by journalists and producers. It’s also extending the range of online outlets, with newspapers and magazines having large digital sections and new online-only publications opening up which specialise in academic content. But it creates new opportunities for narrow-casting rather than broadcasting, connecting with specific audiences who might previously have been marginalised within mainstream media. For this reason, writing for specialised blogs and engaging with niche social media forums can be an effective form of traditional public sociology if the publics you want to engage with are pre-constituted and specific.
    • As an extension of organic public sociology: working in a scholar-activist capacity with groups, organisations, campaigns and movements. Social media offers new ways of identifying and beginning to engage with groups, it offers new ways of supporting groups (albeit ones that might often blur into the category of traditional public sociology) and it offers new ways of making this activity visible within the academy in a way that might draw others into their remit. Social media is changing how such groups can come together, particularly in their initial stages, by offering new opportunities and challenges for assembling similarly-concerned people in time and space. But the very fact of these changes also transforms the relationality of how digital public sociologists engage with them over time. Though we should of course be wary of overstating the point, with the risk that we license a lapse into slacktavism.

    There are important new challenges public sociologists face in both cases. Traditional public sociology may be easier than ever but it creates the problem of being heard above the noise. How do we ensure that our attempted interventions have an effect? Existing academic platforms like The Conversation, The Sociological Review, Discover Society and the LSE Blogs serve a purpose here by pre-assembling a public and mediating engagements with them. It can be difficult to assemble your own audience, unless you invest a lot of time and energy in regularly engaging on social media, have a pre-existing reputation to leverage or are seeking to communicate with a very specialised public. Learning about platforms like these helps you identify which, if any, seem right for your purposes. They all offer clear guidelines about how to submit material and are edited by people who are used to working with academics in this capacity.

    Organic public sociology may be more visible but with this too comes hazards. When it is informed by our own research, the gap between researcher and researched narrows precipitously. For instance, my own experience of researching asexuality was that I very readily got drawn into doing media and campaigning work as an ally. But this also meant that many people in the asexual community were reading and engaging with material I was sharing online, as well as sometimes criticising it. In one case, this was a really informative critique that changed my mind on a specific issue. In another, it was a quote taken out of context which got circulated widely on Tumblr. These are examples of new challenges which we’re not trained for and we need to consider carefully

    There’s a risk that the style of communication we’ve all been traded in proves utterly ineffective for digital public sociology. One of my favourite passages by C Wright Mills concerns the tendency of academics to “slip so readily into unintelligibility”. An “elaborate vocabulary” and “involved manner of speaking and writing” become props for a professional self-image which defines itself, in part, through the inaccessibility of the work being produced. If that work is now accessible then it holds this writing up to scrutiny. It may seem absurd, it may provoke offence but it’s perhaps much more likely to simply fail to gain any purchase and leave us talking amongst ourselves.

    We also need to be careful about the climate within which we’re trying to do digital public sociology because it’s so dominated by a competitive individualism in which people are seeking to win attention for their work. The problem is that winning attention for your work doesn’t take place in a vacuum. As the digital anthropologist Melissa Gregg puts it, “even uniqueness starts to sound the same when everyone is trying to perform”. If everyone is seeking to build an audience and stand out from the crowd then the challenge of achieving these aims spirals ever upwards, excluding ever more people from the process in gendered and classed ways while this subordination is masked by the powerful rhetoric of openness.

    To give one example of trend, George Veletsianos found in a study of educational tweeters that “the top 1 percent of scholars have an average follower base nearly 700 times that of scholars in the bottom 50 percent and nearly 100 times that of scholars in the other 99 percent” (loc 1162-1708). Rather than undermining old hierarchies, social media supplements new ones, with complex emergent effects: sometimes allowing the already celebrated to quickly amass a social media following or to allow those with a big social media following to translate this into academic capital. This is part of the reason why I think community-orientated platforms such as The Sociological Review and Discover Society are likely to prove so important in mitigating the ‘celebrity’-generating effects of social media.

    But hopefully if we focus our discussion of digital public sociology on specific aspirations, projects and publics then we can negotiate these institutional difficulties. There are real opportunities here but also profound challenges.

     
  • Mark 3:37 pm on October 26, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , social media for academics,   

    Social Media and Open Research: What Does ‘Open’ Mean? 

    Notes for a talk at this event on Saturday. 

    In the not too distant past, the use of social media in higher education was seen as a curiosity at best. Perhaps something to be explained or inquired into but certainly not something deemed relevant to scholarship. Yet it’s now increasingly hard to move without encountering the idea that social media is something of value for academics. The reasons offered are probably quite familiar by now. It helps ensure your research is visible, both inside and outside the academy, helping build an audience for your publications and an impact for their findings. It expands your professional networks. It makes research more open and researchers more accountable to the people who ultimately fund their work.

    If not quite at the level of ‘common sense’ yet, I suspect these points soon will be regarded as such, at least by young scholars. On the surface, we seem to have witnessed a fairly significant change, but is it a positive one?

    In many ways I think it’s not because so much of this discussion is preoccupied by individuals and how social media can help their careers. It becomes one more facet in the ideal package of academic skills which are seen to be necessary to thrive in the contemporary academy. Bring in your grants. Publish highly cited papers in high impact journals. Get good teaching reports. Build an audience on social media. The unspoken corollary of social media helping build careers is how being unwilling or unable to engage in it might harm your career. Through their social media use, academics signal their orientation towards accumulating visibility for their institution and generating impact through their research.

    At least this is how I think research mangers are beginning to see social media: as a signal for impact willingness and a proxy for impact capacity. A demonstrable capacity to build an audience with social media becomes just another characteristics of what Liz Morrish recently described as the upwardly mobile young ‘Trump academic’ liable to thrive under contemporary conditions.

    This way of thinking about social media for academics positions it as ‘just one more thing to do’. You do your research and then you spend time ‘networking’, developing your ‘brand’, building an audience and disseminating your research. It’s seen as an additional demand, above and beyond the many other responsibilities people are already subject to. You do it as a means to an end, in order to help meet demands placed upon you at work.

    On this level, it’s a clear example of what the anthropologist Melissa Gregg describes as ‘function creep’: the tendency of new technology to increase the demands placed upon people at work without any comparable increase in reimbursement or recognition. Bit by bit, the job gets more demanding, often in subtle ways which escape our notice on a day-to-day level. We have more to do. We feel tired more frequently. The bottom of our to-do list seems further each on each successive day. But the job market is unwelcoming and self-branding of this sort can feel ‘career protection in uncertain times’ as one particularly off-putting social media guru put it a few years ago.

    This instrumental approach to social media is one which universities are beginning to encourage through the training they offer, their expectations of staff and the implicit messages which permeate institutions. It’s one which the rise of alt-metrics risks intensifying, as the responsibility increasingly falls to individual researchers to demonstrate that they’re able to win attention for their publications online (and empowers those journals who are able to help ensure this is the case, supplementing the existing hierarchy of ‘impact factor’ with a new hierarchy of ‘alt metric factor’, rather than breaking down these boundaries).

    The problem is that winning attention for your work doesn’t take place in a vacuum. As Melissa Gregg puts it, “even uniqueness starts to sound the same when everyone is trying to perform”. If everyone is seeking to build an audience and stand out from the crowd then the challenge of achieving these aims spirals ever upwards, excluding ever more people from the process in gendered and classed ways while this subordination is masked by the powerful rhetoric of openness.

    To give one example of trend, George Veletsianos found in a study of educational tweeters that “the top 1 percent of scholars have an average follower base nearly 700 times that of scholars in the bottom 50 percent and nearly 100 times that of scholars in the other 99 percent” (loc 1162-1708). Rather than undermining old hierarchies, social media supplements new ones, with complex emergent effects: sometimes allowing the already celebrated to quickly amass a social media following or to allow those with a big social media following to translate this into academic capital.

    The problem is that the encouragement to conflate value with popularity, as demonstrated through the metrics built into the platforms themselves, isn’t something new. It’s an extension of the endless metrics to which academics at UK are subject to in every other aspect of their working lives. This is ‘open’ in the sense of rendering individual workers transparent to their employers. Open in the sense of measuring all aspects of their performance in order to calibrate the precise balance of carrots and sticks they will be subjected to in their workplace. Open in the sense of holding them accountable if any of their actions reflect badly on the university or somehow run contrary to this month’s strategy for the corporate brand.

    It’s not a desirable form of openness and we should be critical of it. We should be critical of an account of social media for academics which encourages behaviour that fits with it: using social media to signal your value to your institution, demonstrate your understanding of your employer’s priorities and to accumulate as much prestige for yourself as quickly as you can (obviously to be measured in terms of citation counts, alt metrics scores and follower counts).

    But there’s another form of ‘openness’ we can see in how academics use social media. A relational, collaborative and solidaristic mode of engaging across boundaries. This is a mode of engaging which doesn’t see social media as ‘just another thing to do’ but rather as a way to do what we do anyway in a newly open and shared way. While the horizontal regulation of peer review, informal and otherwise, is increasingly being surmounted by the vertical regulation of metrics, there’s a possibility for new forms of shared engagement through social media that should’t be dismissed. They may not change higher education but they can provide a bulwark against some of the more deleterious tendencies we see within it, at least if we resist the pressure to individualise and instrumentalise our use of it.

    In a recent book called The Academic Diary, Les Back writes 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”. At risk of ruining a nice metaphor, a truly open approach to social media can help lifeblood of scholarship circulate much more widely and freely than it would otherwise. At a time of ever-increasing managerialism, intensifying demands and ever more granular monitoring this feels like something we need to try and protect.

     
  • Mark 3:18 pm on September 4, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , social media for academics   

    The Joys of Weak Ties 

    I love this description by Damon Young on pg 154 of his Distraction:

    Online friendships afford a similar bounty: instantaneous, often hilarious adventures in debate, discussion, dialogue. The ties are strong enough to sate the social urge, but their gossamer threads never bind us tightly, rarely ask for the commitments and cohabitations of our closest relationships.

     
  • Mark 2:03 pm on April 11, 2016 Permalink
    Tags: , , , social media for academics   

    Why do you find social media useful as an academic? 

    I asked this question on Twitter earlier today. Here are some of the answers I got:

     
  • Mark 6:03 pm on April 9, 2016 Permalink
    Tags: , , , social media for academics   

    Crafting an online identity 

    addtext_com_MjAwMTA4MTc1MTQ0

    The powerful thing about telling a story is that it gets beyond the level of sim­ply listing facts about yourself. Not that there’s anything wrong with this; in a way it’s like a story because you choose which facts you present and the order in which you present them. But telling a story places them in a wider context, giv­ing meaning and direction to things which people come to know about you. Nonetheless, listing facts is important. Yet what sort of facts are likely to be rel­evant for these purposes? Here are some suggestions:

    • Your institutional affiliation
    • Your research interests
    • Other accounts you’re involved with
    • Your personal interests
    • Hashtags you contribute to
    • An institutional disclaimer
    • An additional website

    Read more in Social Media for Academics

    51kBFC6SgoL._SX399_BO1,204,203,200_

     

     
  • Mark 5:54 pm on April 9, 2016 Permalink
    Tags: , , , social media for academics   

    So what is ‘networking’? 

    This is an extract from Social Media for Academics 

    To talk of ‘networking’ raises the inevitable question of what your ‘network’ is and why it matters. This is a theme which cuts through the book given that the network is so crucial to social media: without a certain critical mass of users, it’s difficult for social media platforms to be useful to anyone. What’s the point of sending 140-character messages, sharing audio clips or self-publishing articles if no one is going to find them? Social media offer endless opportunities to communicate with your network and expand it in the process. But this doesn’t really answer the question of what the value of this actually is. In part, it can simply be a matter of the enjoyment of sharing things you’ve produced, something which the media scholar David Gauntlett (2011) conveys power­fully in his book on creative production, Making is Connecting, which situated this aspect of contemporary digital culture in terms of a much longer history of craft.

    One of the difficulties with the notion of ‘networking’ is that it can seem to imply that such an activity is extrinsic to scholarly activity, such that one does one’s real work and then (reluctantly) looks outwards towards their connections. What this leaves out is the vast majority of academic work that involves collabo­ration in one form or another. Gauntlett expresses this nicely, suggesting three ways in which ‘making is connecting’:

    • Making is connecting because you have to connect things together (materials, ideas, or both) to make something new
    • Making is connecting because acts of creativity usually involve, at some point, a social dimension and connect us with other people
    • Making is connecting because through making things and sharing them in the world, we increase our engagement and connection with our social and physical environment

    While Gauntlett is talking about creative production in general, the same points can be extended to scholarship. In fact his discussion of ‘craft’, a term not often used to apply to the work that goes on within the academy, offers a useful reminder of the genuinely creative work that is undertaken by academics (albeit frequently within conditions which frustrate that creativity or at least make it difficult to experience it as such). By this he means a process of discovery, often involving new ideas which emerge through acts of creation. This helps bring people together through their shared acts of creation, consolidating bonds between collaborators which take on a life of their own in the outcomes of this work together. This language of craft, which Sennett (2008) talks about in terms of doing things well for their own sake, provides a nice counterweight to some of the instrumentalising tendencies which the contemporary academy can give rise to.

    Talk of ‘networks’ and ‘networking’ can be off-putting. I like Gauntlett’s account because it captures how networks are integral to creative work: making is connecting. It follows from this that connecting can be a preliminary to making. As Weller (2011: loc 172) puts it, ‘[n]etworks of peers are important in scholar­ship – they represent the people who scholars share ideas with, collaborate with on research projects, review papers for, discuss ideas with and get feedback from’. Networks are integral to scholarship. The possibilities which social media open up for networking can have hugely important implications for your schol­arship, though they also pose challenges which we’ll discuss. But first, it’s important not to forget your existing network when you begin to engage with social media.

     
c
Compose new post
j
Next post/Next comment
k
Previous post/Previous comment
r
Reply
e
Edit
o
Show/Hide comments
t
Go to top
l
Go to login
h
Show/Hide help
shift + esc
Cancel