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  • Mark 8:05 am on April 24, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , hashtags, , twitter,   

    How to live tweet effectively at academic conferences 

    This useful post on the Pickle Jar blog offers some pointers about effective live tweeting. I agree it’s important to remember that most (?) people reading your live tweets won’t be in the room with you and thus will be confused by any features of the context you take for granted in your tweets. In that sense, I think this is excellent advice:

    Context is key. If you’re sending a tweet out into the world, assume your audience knows very little. If you hear something interesting, try to share it as if you’re sharing words of wisdom with someone who wasn’t there. Feel free to paraphrase, and take pictures of the slides if there’s just too much amazing stuff on there for 140 characters. Those who aren’t there will get something out of it, and those that are will have a reminder that they can re-tweet or favourite.

    http://www.picklejarcommunications.com/2015/04/15/a-bluffers-guide-to-being-useful-at-conferences/

    But surely live tweeting also serves a purpose for people within the room? The experience of live tweeting has often lived up to the rhetoric of the ‘back channel’: offering an outlet for both exchange with and awareness of other people at the event, many of whom I’ve never previously met. There are obviously risks posed by this (a topic for another post) but it’s also something that can introduce a novel sociality into what might otherwise be a large and impersonal event.

    This is why I think it’s important to distinguish between the official live-tweeter (scene setter, context communicator and summariser in chief) and the voluntary live-tweeting of others at the event. Part of the role of the former is to encourage the latter through regular retweets and rapid responses to any questions. But another crucial part is to provide a sufficient sense of the context to ‘outsiders’ for the flurry of activity taking place amongst ‘insiders’ to be comprehensible and engaging. The insider activity isn’t a threat to the quality of the live tweeting, it’s rather what can make a hashtag fascinating to read if there is someone mediating between the two in order to ensure that ‘insiders’ don’t exclude ‘outsiders’ by taking their shared context for granted.

    There are numerous ways to establish context: regular reminders of what the hashtag is (e.g. “We’re live tweeting from  @BritSoci conference day 2, #BritSoc15”), taking pictures of the venue itself to convey a sense of place, regular statements of the schedule (e.g. “Our next speaker is @mark_carrigan from @SocioWarwick talking about social ontology of social movements”) and signalling openness to queries (e.g. “If you have any questions about #BritSoc15, whether you’re here or not, please get in touch!”). This kind of activity can help if you’re subsequently using the hashtag as a basis to compile a report of the event by providing way marks to make sense of what can be a vast stream of activity. But more importantly I think it also contributes to the accessibility of the event, structuring what might otherwise be an intimidating mass of communication and doing so in a way which encourages it to grow.

    There’s a really important suggestion later in the Pickle Jar post which I’ve only recently started doing myself:

    One way to really add some useful background is to start digging up links. Is the person on stage mentioning a project they worked on? Dig up a link to that project (or better still, a video about it), and share that on the conference hashtag. Do they have a personal site, with background detail? Go find it, and share it. It may seem like a bit of a slog, but Google is your friend here.

    http://www.picklejarcommunications.com/2015/04/15/a-bluffers-guide-to-being-useful-at-conferences/

    I prefer to live tweet on a phone but I’m planning in future to always use my laptop for this reason. If someone mentions a paper they’ve written, look it up and tweet the link! Tweet the institutional profile of the speaker and always ensure you link to their personal twitter feed and tag the department as well if they have a twitter presence.  In this sense, the official live tweeter does a large part of the ‘networking’ in order that other people don’t have to.

    There’s suggestions later in the post which I’ve experimented with in the past but found people quite reluctant to participate in. Perhaps it’s how I’m phrasing it? But the promise of Audioboom for micro-podcasts with speakers really fascinates me and I’ve love to find a way to suggest this possibility to speakers that doesn’t immediately make them recoil in horror:

    While you’re there, how about tracking a few speakers down for an audio interview? We’ve already chatted about the possibilities of platforms such as Audioboom, and you can use these with little more than a smartphone and a quiet sideroom or corridor.

    If video’s more your thing, why not provide some great content for curators and your followers by capturing a quick chat or a tech demo using Youtube Capture, Vine, or Instagram Video? Or if you’ve got an audience that isn’t in a wildly-different timezone, why not livestream an interview or a quick event summary using Periscope or Meerkat?

    http://www.picklejarcommunications.com/2015/04/15/a-bluffers-guide-to-being-useful-at-conferences/

     
    • Christian Smith 8:29 am on April 24, 2015 Permalink

      Thanks for this. So, one idea that I take from this post is the possibility of three tweeting roles at conferences. The first role is the official conference (or specific room or panel in large conferences) live tweeter. The second role is taken up at any point by the various conference participants who tweet independently. The third role is held by a support tweeter to the official conf tweeter. This person provides necessary context where needed, performs on-the-spot research and tweets links to mentioned projects, papers, websites, and mediates between the official tweeters, the participant tweeters and the off-conference audience who may also be tweeting responses to the conf tweets.

    • Mark 2:26 pm on April 24, 2015 Permalink

      Maybe just the first two! One and three could go together

  • Mark 7:25 am on March 28, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , stuart lee, twitter,   

    Stewart Lee on Twitter 

    Thanks to Neil McGuire for including this in his workshop introduction yesterday. It’s excellent:

     
  • Mark 7:41 pm on March 16, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , twitter, , undergraduates   

    Using social media to improve the student experience: creating a departmental back channel for undergraduates 

    A few years ago when I was running the Twitter feed for the Sociology department at Warwick, I noticed how readily first year undergraduates tweeted practical questions to the account during their first few weeks of the first term. Students tweeted questions intermittently throughout the year but it was particularly marked at the start of their time within the department. As someone who spent 6 years studying the undergraduate experience, it’s not hard for me to understand why this would be so: the organisation the student has joined tends to seem rather large and they often feel they have only a superficial grasp on how it works.

    What I find harder to answer is why universities haven’t seized upon social media as tool for improving the ‘student experience’. As well as the aforementioned questions, I noticed a few instances of forthcoming students tagging the department on Twitter prior to starting their degree. As a part-time PhD student with little practical involvement in the department beyond my role maintaining the twitter feed, I often found myself unable to answer the questions undergraduates had and struggling to welcome forthcoming students to the department in any meaningful way.

    I find it easy to imagine how this could be done with social media in an effective way: inviting forthcoming students to engage with the department prior to joining it, encouraging them to address any questions they have to the twitter feed and checking in with the students on a semi-regular basis throughout their first year. It would require an investment though not a particular significant one – perhaps it could be factored into the workload allocation of an existing administrator? The work involved would be regular but fairly unsubstantial, necessitating that someone knowledgeable about the day-to-day life of the department were to prioritize twitter as a communications channel alongside e-mail.

    My experience of the ‘back channel’ that Twitter provides at conferences is that it makes large and impersonal events feel friendly and accessible. Could the same effect be achieved with the student engagement project I’m outlining?

     
  • Mark 7:56 am on October 8, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , twitter,   

    Resonance and subjectivity on twitter 

    In four years of using Twitter regularly, I’ve often found others tweeting things that resonate with me and vice versa. In fact one could plausibly suggest that these experiences play an important role in making continued use of the service appealing. What do I mean by ‘resonate’? I mean knowing where someone is coming from, understanding the reaction they’re expressing and sharing it to some extent. I would argue that resonance is an important factor to consider in understanding subjectivity within a changing social world – to understand where someone is coming from necessitates some degree of converging experience and circumstances. If everyone’s experience and circumstances are entirely particularistic then resonance becomes impossible. If everyone’s experience and circumstances tend towards homogeneity then resonance in interaction fades into the background and ceases to become a distinguishable phenomenon.

    In this sense, I’d see resonance as an important micro-social mechanism engendering social integration: it helps translate objective commonalities into subjective commonalities. Experiences of resonance leave us with a sense that others understand where we are coming from and vice versa. The new forms of interaction facilitated by social media enable new ways in which objective commonalities can be translated into subjective commonalities. Things that previously couldn’t be a basis for subjective commonalities – because they rarely, if ever, entered into interaction – now can be and this has important social consequences. It would be easy to overlook the way in which something like Twitter can contribute to social integration because it is so empirically different to what we’re used to but I’d argue the same underlying mechanism is at work. It tends to increase the degree to which people feel a sense of commonality with a range of others with whom they interact and it does so because there are real underlying commonalities which facilitate this.

     
  • Mark 11:26 am on October 3, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: twitter,   

    “I have no idea what to tweet about!” 

    Are you a social researcher who feels this way? Here are some ideas which might help:

    • Have you read any interesting papers recently? Link to them and briefly explain why you liked them.
    • Are you going to any conferences soon? Tweet that you’re going and ask if anyone else is.
    • Are there any new stories which connect to issues you address in your research? Link to them and explain why
    • Working on a presentation or a paper? Take one idea, try and express it succinctly then throw it on to twitter to see what reaction you get.
    • Have you read anything good recently that isn’t related to your research? Tweet about it and explain why.
    • Try to find other people working on similar issues to you. Tweet and ask! (e.g. “Does anyone know other people working on x, y, z?”)
    • Are there any blogs or other websites you follow that are connected to your research? Tweet and tell other people why you like them.
    • Are there policy or political conclusions which follow from your research findings? Explain what they are.
    • For that matter, what are your research findings? Tell people.
    • The most obvious one: link to your publications. Tell people what they’re about and why the work mattered to you.
     
  • Mark 10:12 am on September 27, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , online norms, , twitter,   

    How not to use twitter as an academic 

    I usually tend towards the view that there’s no right or wrong way to use social media. These evaluations only make sense relative to some prior purpose and so I’m sceptical when blog posts pronounce on the right way to use Twitter or parallel claims with other platforms. However I realise there are a few things which I do see as intrinsically negative things to do on twitter, at least if you want to build positive connections with others working in your field:

    1. Don’t tweet everything you blog at people. It’s hard to build an audience as a blogger and a sense that no one is reading what you write can erode the enjoyment of blogging. But repeatedly tweeting links to new posts at people (i.e. “@soc_imagination my new blog post http://www.myblog.com&#8221😉 is the digital equivalent of looking up phone numbers of people in your field and cold calling them to announce that you’ve done some writing. If there’s some particularly pressing reason why this one post needs to gain an audience then that’s fair enough but before you send it directly to scores of people, it’s worth thinking about whether you’d do this ‘offline’.
    2. Don’t tweet requests for people to follow you back once you follow them. Much as with the first point, I’m surprised at how frequently I see people do this and more so they’ve done it with scores of people in quick succession. I understand the impulse to do it in some cases but again consider the ‘offline’ equivalent to this. I can’t quite work out what it would be but I’m sure it would be slightly creepy.
    3. There’s no need to thank people for retweeting you. If you remark something in conversation and someone says “that’s interesting” would you say “thank you for finding my remark interesting”? Retweeting is usually some variant upon affirming that a tweet was interesting or valuable in some way. Thanking people for retweeting (or following for that matter) makes a momentary interaction feel creepily transactional to me.

    What would you add to the list? If a certain number of people share an antipathy towards a way of acting on twitter then at what point should we start talking about these as norms?

     
    • gfschmidt 11:18 am on September 27, 2014 Permalink

      These advices are very useful. I share your odd feelings about each. It’s good to define a twitter-etiquette, but I’d rather keep that list as short as possible, so no addenda from me, three is sufficient 😉

    • Robert S. Miller MD 2:46 pm on September 27, 2014 Permalink

      These are good. Applicable to all, not just academics. Here’s few more:

      1. Don’t consistently tweet links to journal articles behind a paywall. Every now and then is ok, or if you feel you have to share this type of content regularly, acknowledge the paywall.

      2. Don’t reply to every “@mention” (variation on your #3 above)

      3. Don’t tweet your freakin’ summary stats “My week on Twitter – 10 new followers, 35 RTs blah blah blah.” EVER.

      4. I’m not a fan of paper.li etc.

    • anacanhoto 3:58 pm on September 27, 2014 Permalink

      I like point 1, and point 2 is a must!

      But I am not sure that I agree with point 3. While I understand what you mean, I think that the netiquette is still that you should acknowledge that someone noticed and shared your post. So, what you suggest may be the logic thing to do, but may not be the socially acceptable thing to do, specially if you are not a “twitter star”.

    • Mark 8:22 pm on September 27, 2014 Permalink

      There might be more!

    • Mark 8:23 pm on September 27, 2014 Permalink

      I really don’t get (1) thought I recognise it’s a widely held opinion.

      Couldn’t agree more about (3) – suspect this is people who don’t notice the access the apps have in some cases.

    • Mark 8:24 pm on September 27, 2014 Permalink

      Hmm is there a distinction to be drawn between people thinking that it is the etiquette and people actually feeling it makes sense to them? I’m not convinced there are widely shared standards of this sort – that’s partly what this post was about, the other part being grumpy rant 🙂

    • Corrie 10:04 am on October 26, 2014 Permalink

      Don’t RT everything on someone’s profile in a single day, it makes the RT’d feel like they are being stalked by a plagiarist.

    • tgpb 10:08 am on October 26, 2014 Permalink

      When people write ‘Excited to be on my way to…’, or ‘So great to catch up with…’, ‘Pleased to be giving a paper at…’ or similar. There’s an awkward creepiness that comes from the conjuncture of promotion, emotion, and irrelevance to others, and reads like a clumsy social media celebrity brand ambassador.

    • Mark 2:53 pm on October 27, 2014 Permalink

      I see what you’re saying but are there not instances where that’s the least awkward way to articulate something that needs to be said? There are some situations in which I feel the need to acknowledge an event or meeting on twitter and apart from these constructions, I don’t see how it’s possible to do it.

    • tgpb 3:20 pm on October 27, 2014 Permalink

      It’s not the fact of acknowledgement which is awkward – it’s the excited promotional tone that says, not just ‘I am doing a thing that you might be interested in…’, but also ‘Hey! I am an interesting person!’

      You could just easily say: ‘I am on my way to…’; ‘x and I were talking about…’; ‘I am presenting a paper at…’ – with a much lower cringe factor in each case.

      Perhaps this is just a case of British reserve.

      (See also: overuse of exclamation marks more generally…)

    • Mark 3:22 pm on October 27, 2014 Permalink

      But maybe it’s reserve that leads people to use that construction? To say “I am on my way to X’ is such a blunt descriptive statement that it feels like saying “I had toast for breakfast this morning”. Perhaps adding the excitement implies the reason for posting e.g. I’m sharing the fact I’m going to this conference because I’m excited by the conference, not because I think there’s something intrinsically shareable about the brute fact of me going there?

    • tgpb 3:52 pm on October 27, 2014 Permalink

      Excitement alone doesn’t make something share-worthy unless there’s a pre-existing relationship in place (IMO). As Twitter is a public forum and I follow lots of people I don’t personally know (and vice versa), excitement just doesn’t feel ‘natural’ to me in the same way as it might on, say, Facebook, where I also know everyone there in the offline world: I know their personality, their interests, habits, and so on. Unless I’ve built up an idea of what an individual is like over time, then it feels like personality branding or something, seeking to persuade. e.g. not just ‘this product is available to purchase’ but also ‘this product is super cool, guys!’ Out-of-context excitement feels like an almost totalitarian injunction to emote (‘be excited with me!’) – so I’m far happier with blunt description as default. As long as the intention is also clear of course: why is it important for me to know that you had toast for breakfast?!

      Again though, maybe it’s my own cynicism or insecurity speaking here…! But – do people really get that excited about going to conferences??

    • Mark 7:43 am on October 28, 2014 Permalink

      probably not! you’ve just got me self-diagnosing (and self-justifying) my tendency to write these sorts of tweets….

    • Lily Casura 5:40 am on September 3, 2018 Permalink

      #1 seems incredibly lame and I’ve actually never seen anyone do that. But an equal and opposite one to that frustrates me to the hilt. If someone bothers to include you in their mentions because they cited your work in their piece, could you at least remotely pay attention to that? It depresses me that 3/4 of the time I do this I find the organization usually has yes, a Twitter account, but clearly, never checks it. They could be excited to be included and instead it’s just crickets. Boring and a waste of time … and an otherwise good opportunity for them.

    • Mark 4:15 pm on September 22, 2018 Permalink

      What do you want them to do? From the perspective of someone who manages organisational accounts, it doesn’t mean they don’t care as much as that it’s often hard to respond in an organisational capacity & simply retweeting every mention of you dilutes your stream very quickly.

  • Mark 10:09 am on July 22, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: buffer analytics, twitter,   

    Bourdieusian Hipsters Explain Foucauldian Memes 

    After a couple of years using Buffer to maintain the @soc_imagination twitter feed and occasionally looking through the analytics, I’ve noticed lots of key words that inevitably lead to a click through rate far higher than usual:

    Screen Shot 2014-07-22 at 11.06.27

    Consider this post a crude experiment to test whether what I’m coming to think is true actually is. There are basic claims about writing effective titles that are obviously accurate: the popularity of Upworthy style titles reflects more than the people who work there being slightly irritating. But I also suspect there are domain specific keywords which just don’t translate across different kinds of audiences. If this is true then it means that a large part of social media ‘expertise’ is just a familiarity with the cultural world of the intended audience and an understanding of the incredibly basic techical steps involved in putting that insight into practice.

     
  • Mark 10:32 am on July 5, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: departments, twitter,   

    Help: different approaches to managing departmental twitter feeds 

    I just discovered that the Psychology department at Salford University has an innovate approach to maintaining their department twitter feed. Each week a different person tweets from the department, encompassing all students and staff. This has left me interested in the different approaches that departments can take to managing their twitter feeds. These are the ones I know of:

    1. Paying a postgraduate student to manage the department’s social media presence.
    2. Including social media work within the workload allocation for staff within the department.

    I imagine these are also possible:

    1. Not paying a postgraduate student but getting them to do this work anyway.
    2. Not formally allocating this work to staff but running it as a voluntary commitment.
    3. Including it within the workload of existing administrative staff.

    Does anyone know of any examples of the later three approaches? Are there any ways of managing a departmental feed that I haven’t included? I’m writing a chapter about these issues for my upcoming social media book and any ideas would be much appreciated!

     
    • DavidWebster 9:03 pm on July 5, 2014 Permalink

      We’ve had a mix of #2 in both lists! Much of it has been voluntary-> out of interest, etc. But it is getting formalised, made more even between subject: and therefore now factoring into workload allocation models…

      This has benefits, and drawbacks..

    • Mark 9:01 pm on July 7, 2014 Permalink

      I can see the benefits – what are the drawbacks?

    • DavidWebster 9:10 pm on July 7, 2014 Permalink

      While it is good to have work recognised via allocation models (though they often very flawed, but that’s another story) – there is a danger that:
      1: You end up having to have a twitter account for each area, and end up with staff that are doing it as a chore imposed on them- that doesn’t help make it engaging.
      2: formalising can endanger spontaneity, if too many corporate communications policies lead to an overly strategic use of twitter.

      I think we are seeing Comms depts of HEIs getting more organised- so much of this is going to happen: but yes- lots of real opportunities too. I was on #REChatUK earlier tonight – talking with primary, secondary and FE colleagues in Religious Studies- very exciting..

      We need to enable the best to emerge in terms of engagement etc: and not see twitter merely reduced to another marketing tool..

    • Mark 9:12 pm on July 7, 2014 Permalink

      Yep I definitely agree in that sense – it’s why I’m so interested in how this can be institutionalised within departmental structures, as it’s a likely bulwark against comms departments insisting on taking control of twitter feeds.

      I had naively assumed the work would only be allocated to willing parties – this now seems like a rather questionable assumption…

    • Mark 9:13 pm on July 7, 2014 Permalink

      oh! I just realised I’ve read your book! it was excellent 🙂

    • DavidWebster 9:14 pm on July 7, 2014 Permalink

      Where you have willing parties- that us fine- but across, say, a bunch of subjects in a faculty: not all may have staff keen to jump in!

    • DavidWebster 9:15 pm on July 7, 2014 Permalink

      Thanks! Mostly seemed to just annoy people…

    • Emma 12:05 pm on July 9, 2014 Permalink

      hi Mark, I do have some recognition in my workload for running a dept twitter feed. I think one of the issues here is about what the dept wants the twitter feed to do/be for (and sometimes this might not be clear, or might be dependent on who runs it). I’ve tended to resist the idea that our twitter feed (@socandcrimKeele) should be seen as a main communication channel with students. I’m not necessarily resistance to that idea, but I think if that was the case it might be more appropriate to have the feed managed by a member of admin staff, or have shared ownership of the account.

    • Mark 12:53 pm on July 10, 2014 Permalink

      Thanks Emma that’s really helpful – hope it’s still ok to get you to give feedback on some chapters when the project is a little further along?

    • Anonymous 2:25 pm on July 11, 2014 Permalink

      I am in position 1 of your second list – was nominated unbeknown to me to be the student rep for the twitter feed. I am also the editor of the departmental blog – neither of which are paid positions, nor have much support from the rest of the faculty. I had a fight to get access to the Twitter feed to link it to the blog…..

      In addition to me, there are only two other people with access to the feed, both faculty. I think it would be better if more people had access to tweet from departmental events etc, as it’s an unfair burden for this to fall to only a few people.

    • Mark 7:17 pm on July 11, 2014 Permalink

      thanks for the input! that does sound like quite a negative situation…

  • Mark 10:45 pm on June 5, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: twitter,   

    The Twitter ‘favourite’ button explained by @death_stairs 

    Via ThePoke – as someone who has favourited 5,817 tweets in the last few years, this rings uncomfortably true (2, 4 and 7 in particular)

    BpXmMaHIQAATrNg

     
  • Mark 11:22 pm on April 30, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , twitter,   

    A Eulogy for Twitter 

    Initially this article irritated me immensely. As clichés go, “it’s not as good as it used to be” is one I find peculiarly obnoxious, at least when it relates to the internet. But I think it actually makes some very interesting points:

    Those fictions have proven foolish, one-by-one. The service is filled with spam accounts: The median tweeter has just one measly follower, so how many of your followers are real people? The growth of Twitter, year-over-year, has plunged since 2011. And the tensions of Twitter’s inherent (and explicit) attention market seem to push and pull it in odd, fractal ways: to keep your Twitter timeline slow is to stop following others, to stop following others is to stop exploring the service (and to reduce the number of folks who can find you), to stop exploring the service is to get bored.

    Twitter users may just get too good at tweeting, too. When a new user joins Twitter, it takes time for them to figure out what they’re doing. You get to see all the visible seams in their work—the misunderstood conventions and misapplied hashtags—and the service becomes fresher in their naivete. Here’s a new friend to hang out with! The new user, too, gets to interact with new people and establish his or her voice. It’s an exciting thing to watch, but as growth slows, the excitement does, too.

    This isn’t just about the platform going mainstream. Many users disliked that the service auto-expanded images or harassed third-party client developers, saying that both discouraged the power users who came to Twitter for a writing platform. But the company has also arguably rewarded early adopters. Twitter’s new profiles prominently showing the month and year you joined the service.

    And Twitter remains a meaningful meet-up spot for some conversations. The predictable churn of the outrage cycle can make it hard to remember that the platform still amplifies otherwise underrepresented voices about essential topics. You can attend a protest on Twitter that you can’t attend in real life. Some of the conversations it hosts aren’t happening anywhere else.

    Viewed through this lens, the publishing platform might be seen as a microcosm for the power-shift in media from traditional gatekeepers to the rest of us. And this transfer of power is, at times, messy. (Consider the disputes over what different Twitter users consider to be “public” information.) Ultimately, this is a debate over who controls the narrative.

    Actually, a lot of Twitter fights are ultimately about this very question.

    • * *

    So who is Twitter for, anyway?

    “Twitter is the new comment section,” our friend Margarita Noriega—you may know her as @Margafret—said. “It’s changed, and unfortunately, it’s gotten a lot worse. It’s too filled with spam and hate speech and unverified content… At some point the Ezra Kleins of the world are leaving Twitter. They’re going to be the first people to leave.”

    In fact, the Kleins of the world have somewhat already left. A year ago, Klein lamented that Twitter’s signal-to-noise to ratio was too low. Check his feed today and he’s almost disengaged from the service entirely: Rarely replying or retweeting, he broadcasts Vox stories and nothing more.

    The irony about the Klein example is that he’s become the go-to example of media privilege, yet he got his start in journalism as a blogger at a time when established journalists used the word “blogger” as a pejorative.

    It has since become common for journalists to get their start on Twitter, in the same way that it no longer seems strange—at least among media types—to have met friends on the platform. But once media types of a certain stripe professionalize their accounts, they become like Klein’s: all scheduled tweets and broadcast links. They care about the writers they’d care about anyway—who often already have their own platform—and reply to them. Otherwise, they seem to ignore the stream.

    It’s users like Klein who contribute to the sense that Twitter’s period of openness—this window when people looking to do something other than self-promotion might join—may be ending.

    Some women have backed off the service altogether. It’s hard to avoid the ’splain-happy men who feel entitled to rock an otherwise friendly Twitter canoe. For a platform that was once so special, it would be sad and a little condescending to conclude that Twitter is simply something we’ve outgrown. After all, the platform has always been shaped by the people who congregate there. So if it’s no longer any fun, surely we’re at least partly to blame. And why worry about this dynamic anyway? All this attention on a platform that’s not that widely used may feel outsized, but that’s because its influence on publishing is gigantic: Twitter is the platform that led us into the mobile Internet age. It broke our habit of visiting individual news homepages first thing in the morning, and established behaviors built around real-time news consumption and production. It normalized mobile publishing power. It changed our expectations about how we congregate around shared events. Twitter has done for social publishing what AOL did for email. But nobody has AOL accounts anymore.

    http://m.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2014/04/a-eulogy-for-twitter/361339/

     
  • Mark 8:36 am on April 13, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: art of listening, , , , , twitter, ,   

    Academic scribes, their writing and their unsociability 

    The paradox is that we academic scribes are not always very sociable. We cling to the library like bookish limpets that, like Kierkegaard, find real human beings too heavy to embrace. We speak a lot about society but all too often listen to the world within limited frequencies. I am proposing an approach to listening that goes beyond this, where listening is not assumed to be a self-evident faculty that needs no training. Somehow the grey books written on sociological method do not help much with this kind of fine tuning. The lacklustre prose of methodological textbooks often turns the life in the research encounter into a corpse fit only for autopsy.

    Les Back, The Art of Listening, Pg 163

    I think there’s more to this than can be fairly ascribed to the limitations of ‘traditional’ scholarly communication. But I think these nonetheless play a significant role in contributing to the ‘unsociability’ of sociology. In part, it’s a matter of audience, with marginality arising from a turning inwards towards others like ourselves. If we’re communicating with a technical audience, it creates a tendency to drift towards ever more technical language. In doing so, norms surrounding ‘proper’ communication will themselves tend towards the obtuse and, with this, the starting point from which we drift becomes ever more mired in professionalised marginality.

    When I say ‘technical language’ I mean specialised vocabulary in the broadest sense, those networks of terms and concepts which emerge in relation to specialised practices, deriving their meaning and purpose from connection to such skilled activity. I don’t think there’s anything fundamentally wrong with technical language in this sense. It shouldn’t be avoided entirely nor could it be. But to use Les Back’s lovely expression, “we have to insist on having both Adorno and Orwell at our elbow as we write”. We should be relentlessly critical of our tendency to slide into jargon while nonetheless recognising the role that jargon can serve. Rather than seeing clarity and complexity as antipathetic, such that we struggle to distinguish between the accessibly simplified and the simplistically accessible, we should focus on the ways that technical vocabulary (complex) can be used to express precise claims succinctly (clarity) in a way which would otherwise be impossible.

    What role does it serve beyond this? I can’t see that it serves any intellectual role and, as prone as I am to slipping into it myself, I’m determined to train myself out of the habits that 7 years of postgraduate education have inculcated in me*. It clearly serves a personal role though, as C Wright Mills makes clear in one of my favourite passages from his work**:

    In many academic circles today anyone who tries to write in a widely intelligible way is liable to be condemned as a ‘mere literary man’ or, worse still, ‘a mere journalist.’ Perhaps you have already learned that these phrases, as commonly used, only indicate the spurious inference: superficial because readable. The academic man in America is trying to carry on a serious intellectual life in a context that often seems quite set against it. His prestige must make up for many of the dominant values he has sacrificed by choosing an academic career. His claims for prestige readily become tied to his self-image as a ‘scientist’. To be called a ‘mere journalist’ makes him feel undignified and shallow. It is this situation, I think, that is often at the bottom of the elaborate vocabulary and involved manner of speaking and writing. It is less difficult to learn this manner than not. It has become a convention – those who do not use it are subject to moral disapproval. It may be that it is the result of an academic closing of ranks on the part of the mediocre, who understandably wish to exclude those who win the attention of intelligent people, academic and otherwise.

    C. Wright Mills, The Sociological Imagination, Pg 218

    In this sense I think we can see ‘academic writing’ as a dispositional complex which has been reinforced in three ways: status anxiety at the level of the person, restrictive norms about ‘proper’ writing at the level of academic culture and a narrow range of available media** at the level of academic institutions. These constraining factors will act in different ways and at different times but their emergent power over time mitigates against the possibility of forms of writing which aim “to document and understand social life without assassinating it”. This is on page 164 of the Art of Listening. There’s an even nicer formulation of this in an interview with Les Back here: “ways of writing about the social world that don’t assassinate the life that’s in it”. I think this expression is an example of precisely the virtues it advocates. It’s a phrase I’m simply not going to forget and it conveys its main claim with an immediacy which would be difficult to accomplish with a less literary mode of expression. 

    In my paper about online writing I’m trying to think through the possibilities offered by blogging in terms of this diagnosis. I think there’s a real risk of academic blogging being ‘captured’ by professionalisation in a way which undermines the potentially transformative role it can play in relation to personal practice. But the possibilities for experimentation are hugely significant nonetheless. In an important sense, it’s a uniquely malleable medium, at least compared to monographs, edited books and journal articles etc. I need to figure out more precisely what I mean by ‘malleability’ here. I’m also including ‘micro-blogging’ within this scope, despite it being a term I’ve always hated. Partly to expand the scope of what I’ve been invited to write but also because considering Twitter could help flesh out my overarching argument. I’m very interested in the aesthetics of Nein Quarterly as an example of the innovative modes of expression that the radical brevity of Twitter can help give rise to.

    *Including the habit of writing sentences, such as this one and many in the main body of the text, which I believe are called compound-complex sentences. Quite why I feel so compelled to do this, with the strangely undulating character it entails for my prose, continues to elude me but I’d like to know nonetheless.

    **I don’t think this can be straight-forwardly applied to our present situation but the main thrust of the argument is still valid.

    ***Which are themselves narrow in terms of the expression they permit.

     
    • BeingQuest 9:18 pm on April 13, 2014 Permalink

      Compounded thoughts require equal clarity, hard to come by until scanning, abstracting a general terrain (the role of flora/fauna in one’s daily experience of Nurture and Nature, for instance) of personal orientation, some punctuated events sometimes, as Surprise unleashing cognitive frame-setting momentum that scatters or focuses attention via interest/s in/of the EF; defensive/offensive strategies, fight/flight or masquerade, curiosity, play or indifference among acquaintance, friend or stranger, effectively proving some Integrity of Agency withal, as in any striving, writing as in living, as in loving or loss. Complex? Perhaps not too.

  • Mark 12:44 pm on March 17, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Dawkins, , twitter,   

    Richard Dawkins, Twitter and the dangers of thinking aloud 

    There’s a great Brendan O’Neill post on Telegraph blogs* in which he reflects on the self-destruction of Richard Dawkins** online and its roots in the nature of Twitter as a medium. He’s probably correct that, with the exception of a cadre of ‘skeptic’ true believers, Dawkins has through his ill considered anti-religious tweets effectively destroyed a reputation he’d spent a lifetime building. What interests me about O’Neill’s argument is the claim that “we are seeing how Dawkins’s mind works prior to his exercise of thought and self-editing, and it isn’t pretty”. Again, he’s probably correct. His conviction that this is a negative trend, illustrated by the particular case of Dawkins, rests on a set of claims about intellectual expression in public life:

    Twitter by its very nature invites its users to express unedited thoughts which in earlier eras would have lingered at the back of our minds or been spoken only to small groups of people, perhaps over a pint. In the past, there was a clearer distinction between private man and public man, between what we thought and what we said, between the inner workings of our brains and the public utterances that later fell from our mouths.

    Today, that divide has been muddied almost into oblivion, so that now it is perfectly normal to see people tweet their instant, unformulated feelings about an event, a person, a religion, or whatever. Twitter isn’t single-handedly responsible for the detonation of the dividing line between private thought and public speech, of course, but it is the technological tool that has most explicitly moulded itself around the corrosion of the private/public split, inviting us, cajoling us in fact, to instantly share our half-baked thoughts on just about everything.

    The end result is that even someone like Dawkins can now be better known for his late-night blabbing than for his intellectual works. I’m sure that to young people in particular, who don’t remember that time when Dawkins was taken seriously and who get the vast majority of their info via the Twittersphere, Dawkins is now just “that bloke what says weird stuff on Twitter”.

    Dawkins’s fate – his self-demotion from serious author to barking tweeter – should be a lesson to everyone: beware Twitter, for it is the technological facilitator of the most backward cultural trend of our age – the Oprahite urge to spill, sputter and speak every thought, idea and feeling that pops into our heads.

    http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/brendanoneill2/100263460/let-the-fate-of-richard-dawkins-be-a-lesson-to-you-all-twitter-brings-out-the-worst-in-humankind/

    He sees this as the apotheosis of a longer term trend in which the valorisation of ‘authenticity’ leads us “to give voice to our every feeling”. The real problem for intellectual life comes because this trend deprives us of “the space in which we once worked out what we really think about other people and world events, and instead encourages us to express our instant feelings about them”. So this isn’t the real Dawkins we see, as opposed to a previously false Dawkins, rather it is an unedited rather than edited encounter with the man.

    I never thought I’d find a Brendan O’Neill article so thought provoking but this is a really provocative framing of a question that fascinates me. I’m convinced that iteration is an important aspect of the creative process: clarifying what it is you’re trying to say by recurrently attempting to articulate it. In other words, the space in which we ‘work out what we really think’ can be as dialogical as it is monological. But I think he’s certainly correct that Twitter encourages us to think aloud (this certainly fits with my experience) and that dangers are attached to this. Internal conversation is not a uniform thing, instead varying between people and across times and contexts. I don’t think communications technology can initiate these changes but I think it can (and clearly does) tendentially nudge them in certain directions. What makes this so complex though is that effects are not going to be uniform because mental life is not uniform – the properties and powers of Twitter (or an equivalent) are not the only variable in play here, with existing tendencies towards certain forms of intra-action shaping the inter-active uses people make of social platforms like this.

    So I guess what I’m saying is that Twitter probably does inculcate a tendency towards thinking aloud, simply because it so radically minimises the constraints on externalising a thought. But leaving aside compulsive use (which is not a minor issue by any means but a distinct one) it doesn’t create the impulse to share, determine the content of the thought*** or condition its likely reception in anything more than the most formal sense (i.e. the kinds of people one is connected to, the channel constraints involved in their responses etc). In other words: the problem here is not twitter and thinking aloud, it’s Dawkins himself and the culture within which these ‘pre-edited’ views become plausible and coherent.

    *Writing this sentence disturbs me on at least two levels.

    **What does it say about you if even Brendan O’Neill thinks you’re obnoxious?

    ***Though it obviously may provoke it. Twitter can be a banal space but it can also be an intensely thought-provoking one.

     
    • Mathias Klang 2:43 pm on March 18, 2014 Permalink

      The article was interesting and the “problem” with Dawkins on Twitter vs his books is an interesting one. Especially in relation to the Kristof editorial “Professors we need you” http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/16/opinion/sunday/kristof-professors-we-need-you.html?

      Being part of the public debate only increases the risk of damaging a career while rarely benefiting it.

    • Mark 4:41 pm on March 22, 2014 Permalink

      Is that really ‘being part of the public debate’ though? It’s his racist tweets which have trashed his reputation, not his public intellectualism.

  • Mark 8:46 pm on February 24, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: twitter,   

    The future of twitter in two images 

    Screen shot 2014-02-24 at 20.43.45
    Screen shot 2014-02-16 at 21.09.34

     
  • Mark 9:11 pm on February 16, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , twitter,   

    Are Twitter now selling followers themselves? 

    Screen shot 2014-02-16 at 21.09.34

     
  • Mark 4:39 pm on December 2, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , quiet zone, twitter,   

    The sociology of the quiet zone: norms and public transport 

    An interesting story went viral in the last couple of days which has left me thinking about the issue of normativity for the first time in a while. I have no way to know the accuracy of the reports but that’s irrelevant. If it turns out not to have happened in this way then this account can function equally well as a thought experiment. The extract below is from the Telegraph’s account of what happened. Kudos to whoever chose this title for the post: “A hipster humiliates a ‘dying’ middle-aged woman on a flight. Twitter applauds”.

    Elan, like lots of Americans, caught a plane at Thanksgiving, and the plane was delayed. A few rows behind him, a middle-aged woman overshared about her fear of missing her family time with the passing staff. Now, we’ve all come across these people. There’s one on every flight. They’re a pain in the neck, but anyone with a modicum of maturity might have reminded themselves that people who are behaving like this are usually compensating for something else – fear of flying, for instance, or distress of another sort – and quietly tutted to themselves.

    But not our hero. No, he was made of sterner stuff. Elan took it personally, and shared his disdain with his Twitter followers.

    “Her family is very important to her, she says. Her family has a special recipe for stuffing. She needs to be there to help. It is crucial.”

    “She had to sit down because we took off. She has been muttering ‘about DAMN time’ and I can hear her breathing from 5 rows back.”

    After a while, sharing his disgruntlement with Twitter was not enough and he decided that punishment was the way forward. So Elan enlisted the help of a male staff member and sent her a glass of wine with a note. “[This] is a gift from me to you,” it read. “Hopefully if you drink it you won’t be able to use your mouth to talk.” Oh Elan! Your rapier wit!

    Emboldened – or perhaps frustrated; it must be awful when such an act of naked courage goes unacknowledged – by his fellow passengers’ failure to respond, Elan set forth, armed only with two miniature bottles of vodka, to slay the dragon.

    “Oh my God I did it I walked as if I was going to the bathroom and I leaned over and put them on her tray table and walked away Oh my God.”

    “She just stared at me like REALLY hard. I’m not going to lie I am shaking.” You betcha, Elan! We’d all be shaking if we’d just taken on a woman in “mom jeans and a studded belt”. You’re, like, Maximus in the Colosseum!

    But then things got scary. Diane (for such was her name) had the temerity to call him “an awful person with no compassion”’, on a page torn from a lined notebook. No compassion! The cheek of it.

    So he responded the way that only a true man can. He composed another note. “I hate you very much. Eat my d***.”

    Wow, Elan! Touché! High five! Though presumably, as you were in the air, you might have had to ignore the seatbelt signs for her to do this.

    Anyway, the upshot was that, after a bit more penis-related badinage, Diane gave Elan a slap in the face and he ran away, crying.

    http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/culture/alexmarwood/100072071/a-hipster-humiliates-a-middle-aged-woman-on-a-flight-twitter-applauds/

    What interests me here is the role played by norms in the unfolding of these events. The story’s virality likely flows from the dramatically conflicting norms concerning behaviour on a plane which are being acted upon here. It’s compelling because we recognise on some level that this normative dissensus exists in society, particularly when it comes to conventions, but rarely does it manifest itself behaviourally in quite so dramatic a fashion. Elan clearly sees the woman in question as contravening apparently obvious norms of comportment when flying. The woman’s ‘oversharing’ and breathing (!) were impinging upon his experience of the flight and, in her failure to restrict her audial impact on those around her, she was acting contrary to Elan’s understanding of how people should conduct themselves when crammed into an overcrowded plane with many fellow passengers.

    Though I’m generally critical about the concept of norm circle put forward by Dave Elder-Vass, it’s often struck me as a useful tool to make sense of behaviour like this. In essence he talks about the role played by an awareness of others being committed to a norm in engendering our own tendency to act in accordance with that norm. He sees this as a matter of endorsing and enforcing a given norm – we learn from past experience that acting in a way that contravenes X will tend to provoke sanctions and, through doing so, we come to endorse X and habitually act in accordance with it.

    I’m not keen on this as an account of the genesis of normative behaviour. However I do think Elder-Vass captures something important about the social psychology of interactional norms when he further distinguishes between proximal, imagined and actual norm circles. The proximal norm circle are those people endorsing and enforcing a norm whom we have directly encountered. Though limited in number, we take them to be representative of a wider group: the imagined norm circle is the dispersed group who we imagine to endorse and enforce a given norm. The actual norm circle is the objective extension of endorsement and enforcement of a norm. There are a lot of problems with this account. But what I find useful about it is the distinction between the imagined and the actual in making sense of the social psychology at work in a public transport situation. Whenever we act to enforce a norm we do so on an understanding, implicit or explicit, as to the existence of a wider circle who share the endorsement which motivates our action. We also often choose not to enforce norms which we nonetheless endorse. My point here, which I’m not sure is the same as EV’s, is a claim about the phenomenology of norm enforcement – acting because we think X is wrong is unavoidably tied up in (potential) questions about the agreement or disagreement of others with our stance.

    My examples for this always come back to the quiet zone on trains – the spaces where mobile phone use is prohibited. There’s a variability in the extent to which train staff seek to display their endorsement of this rule (by announcing it) or to enforce it (by actually intervening when people use mobiles). There’s also variability in the extent to which people recognise the norm in question (some clearly don’t), the extent to which they feel bound by it (for example if they were forced into the carriage by overcrowding) and the extent to which other passengers feel willing or able to enforce a norm. Next time you’re in this situation, watch other people’s behaviour when someone starts talking loudly on a mobile: there’s all manner of performative expressions of endorsement of the quiet zone norm which are entirely distinct from actually seeking to enforce it. I have no way to prove this empirically but I’d suggest, on the basis of observation and theoretical reasoning, that someone is much more likely to seek to enforce the no mobiles rule if other passengers are noticeably performing their endorsement of the norm e.g. rolling their eyes, irritated coughing noises etc.

    My point is that the endorsement/enforcement and proximal/imagined/actual distinctions are useful for making sense of these kinds of interpersonal disputes. I’ve suggested that Elan’s behaviour was at root a matter of enforcing a norm which he endorsed and saw Diane as contravening. He clearly felt empowered to act in ways which, from other perspectives, seem to contravene far more important norms of interpersonal behaviour. It’s this swagger (real or fictitious) which I want to understand and I suspect twitter plays a role. The intuition I had this morning when reading this story is that twitter expands the imagined norm circle. When we complain on Twitter about someone we physically share space with, we’ll often receive what can seem like tacit endorsements of our complaints (responses, retweets, favourites). Perhaps more importantly I suspect that silence is seen as, at best, indifference to what we’re saying and, at worst, tacit endorsement of our irritation: we imagine that our twitter followers agree with us. As a proposal about twitter etiquette I’d therefore suggest: if someone is live tweeting their travel frustration and they’re being out of order then say so! As this dynamic becomes much more common I wonder if twitter could have a real effect on people’s tendency towards intolerance on public transport. 

     
  • Mark 12:11 pm on June 16, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , twitter,   

    3 tips for managing institutional, project and group twitter feeds in #HigherEd 

    In the last few years I’ve jointly or solely managed a whole range of twitter feeds – including @sociowarwick, @bsatheory, @bsapgform, @bsadigitalsoc, @lsepoliticsblog, @bsarealism, @digital_change, @soc_imagination, @asexstudies, @dis_of_dissent, @warwicksocsci and probably some others that I’ve forgotten about. Along the way I’ve learnt a lot about what works and what doesn’t. Given that we seem to be in the very early stages of some sort of corporate twitter presence being expected for research groups or academic departments (etc) I thought I’d offer some tips about how to manage these kinds of twitter feeds in a way which will generate an audience, won’t cause any controversy and won’t take up too much of your time.

    1. Tools like Buffer app are essential to manage multiple twitter feeds effectively without it taking over the rest of your life. They stagger your tweets according to a predefined scheduled over a certain number of days. This can be 2 or 3 tweets only on week days. Or it can be 25+ tweets every day. It’s up to you. It’s worth playing around with it at first. Try out different  schedules, taking into account both the content & time available to you. But once you get to grips with it, it means Twitter scheduling can be a weekly activity rather than a continual demand on your time. For instance I would schedule the @LSEPoliticsBlog feed (30 tweets a day at one point, 20k+ followers) two or three times a week. It took two hours max. 
    2. However this talk of ‘content’ which I slip into these days with distressing ease poses an obvious question: what ‘content’ do you have? This is where you need to think through what the point of the twitter presence is. Is it to disseminate project news? Is it to raise awareness of the project? Is it to network with likely outside constituencies? For research projects this question can be a bit tricky. Which is why combining this presence with a blog can be a strategic masterstroke at this stage. If you can get members of your project to write articles about the issues you’re engaging with and their past work (etc) then this can be a valuable way of generating content for the Twitter feed. For research projects this is admittedly rather complex – listen to this interview with the manager of the enormous FP7 funded MYPLACE project if you’re looking for some inspiration. For academic departments, it’s a lot easier, though this depends on how organised you can be. When I was employed to manage the Sociology@Warwick online presence (prior to joining the LSE’s Public Policy Group to manage the LSE Politics Blog) I curated a collection of open access papers, books and media appearances of all the staff within the department. I then used buffer app to periodically tweet links to these, as well tweeting departmental news/events and retweeting tweets by staff members where appropriate. Now that more sociologists are using Twitter on a regular basis, it becomes possible to imagine a department twitter feed as aggregating the more appropriate aspects of individual users within the department. This could even take the form of a rebel mouse page like this one which I use to automatically curate my online activity.
    3. One of the most important features of Buffer is the analytics it offers i.e. it tells you how many people click on links and how many people retweet or favourite the tweet itself. Once you have been managing a Twitter feed for some time, it can become possible to see trends emerging in the kinds of content you’re putting out through it. This allows the management of the feed to become properly reflexive – are people interested in the work of a certain academic within your department? Then tweet more of it. Does video and audio get a good reaction? Then ensure that all appearances by department members on youtube and vimeo (sometimes the individuals themselves are not aware these videos are out there!) feature in your regular cycle of content. Furthermore, it’s ok to push out the same links more than once. But be selective about how you do it, watch the analytics and try to put a different spin on it as you do.

    Part of the difficulty with this sort of activity is that there’s not a natural home for it in most institutional structures. Which is a shame because social media is, in most instances, a necessary (though insufficient) component in an impact strategy for social scientists. If you’re finding it difficult to establish a twitter presence (or to grow an established presence) then the above points will hopefully be of use. If you’d like further help, I’m always available for short term consultancy – here are some nice things people have written about work I’ve done for them and I’ve got a dull but informative social media portfolio document with stats available on request.

     
  • Mark 4:24 pm on April 18, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: media channels, media presence, media profiles, , twitter,   

    Universities aren’t going to be successful in using social media for recruitment if everything goes through the communications office 

    This interesting article in the Guardian Higher Ed reports on empirical data which supports something I’ve believed for quite some time: communications offices are, at least in some respects, ill suited to using social media for student recruitment. Their role as an official channel and concern to manage the corporate brand leaves them tending towards sanitised offerings which have little impact on the decision making of potential students:

    Our research, conducted with online student community The Student Room, surveyed over 300 potential and current students about what information sources or channels influenced their choice of university. We found that although 65% of students use social media channels several times a day, students rated universities’ social media presence as less influential and less trustworthy than more traditional sources such as prospectuses or open days.

    Prospective students are keen to engage with their university through social media channels, with one fifth of students saying that universities don’t make enough use of social media in recruitment, which meant they currently didn’t expect or look for information there.

    What’s more, many of the students we surveyed were clueless that their chosen university even had a Twitter or Facebook account – showing that there is a need for universities to ensure their social media presence is clearly signposted to attract the widest audience.

    There is also a question to be asked about what kind of content is relevant for social media profiles. We found that fewer than one in five students were influenced by university Twitter accounts and only one in four were influenced by Facebook pages or blogs.

    Comments we received from students included, “they do not talk about the things we need to know” and “I don’t find enough useful information that relates to me”. This suggests that many universities are using social media to try and engage with too many stakeholder groups at once, and consequently not being tailored enough about the updates they are sending out.

    So how else can social media be used for student recruitment? Facilitating digital activity at the departmental level would mean that the structures which will overwhelmingly shape the day-to-day academic experiences of students are rendered open in a way that they previously have not been. Putting resources into encouraging undergraduates, postgraduates and staff to blog about their work and their shared working life within a department would paint a publicly accessible picture of what it will be like to be part of that department. Taking photos and recording audio from events, using a Twitter feed to curate the public life of the department and being open to online engagement with potential students would, I’m convinced, potentially have a much greater impact on the decision making of students than official messages which are centrally produced. The expansion of  marketing/communications in higher education is happening at the same time as many ensuing professional outputs have a declining purchase on the decision making of the target demographic. This is a specific instance of a much broader point: doing communications well in contemporary higher education demands so much more than just hiring new comms staff and giving the comms department more resources.

    What frustrates me is this department level academic technologist function (something which I’ve done in the past on a part time basis, found immensely rewarding and hope resources are made available for others to pursue similar roles) is that its novelty means that it falls between the cracks. It just doesn’t occur to anyone that this should be a priority. Whereas I think there’s an incredibly strong business case to be made for this on a number of levels.

    Edited to add: I think this is symptomatic of a broader failure to understand the decision making processes of A level students. One unexpected spin off of my PhD research (longitudinal interviews with 18 students over 2 years looking at internal conversation and decision making) has been some great qualitative data about this, which was theoretically quite thought-provoking. One of the first things on my ‘PhD spin off papers to write after I finish writing my actual thesis’ list.

     
  • Mark 10:25 am on January 5, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , twitter,   

    Digital Sociologist #1: @ProfSteveFuller from @SocioWarwick 

    stevefuller
    In the first of this series for the BSA Digital Sociology group, Steve Fuller (Auguste Comte Chair in Social Epistemology at the University of Warwick) talks about his experience of using Twitter. If you have ideas of how profile sociologists you’d like to see interviewed about their use of social media, or ideas about questions to ask them, please do get in touch.

    How did you first come to use Twitter?

    Did you find the brevity of the medium problematic?

    How do you decide who to follow on Twitter?

    Have you found it time consuming?

    https://markcarrigan.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/p4.mp3

    What advice would you give Sociologists who are interested in starting to use Twitter?

     
  • Mark 1:21 pm on August 27, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: bulletin boards, , , twitter,   

    Why the ethics of researching Twitter and Discussion Forum users are so different… 

    Traditionally, “Public places” refer to any regions in a community freely accessible to members of that community; “private places” refer to soundproof regions where only members or invitees gather”

    Erving Goffman, Behaviour in Public Places, Pg 9

     
  • Mark 10:54 am on July 20, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , twitter,   

    “Should I be conscious of the language I use on Twitter?” 

    The panel (below) responds at this Digital Change GPP event earlier in the year.

     
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