Links: Live-Tweeting and its Discontents

While it may be hard to say #twittergate with a straight face, this ongoing conversation about live-tweeting conference sessions is definitely the most interesting story of the week. To get a good sense of how the story developed, I suggest looking at the Storified version that Adeline Koh created. The issue was also summed up in an Inside Higher Ed piece, but this is one of those instances in which Twitter does a much better job of telling its own story. The inherent difficulty in detaching a tweet from its conversational context can make summaries of what was said on Twitter somewhat inadequate.

Wherever it is that you read about this story, you will definitely find some strongly held views. Everything from ‘it’s bad manners and shouldn’t be allowed’ to ‘if I can’t tweet, it’s not my revolution’; from ‘it’s crass self-promotion’ to ‘it’s a natural extension of taking notes’; from ‘it’s a violation of intellectual property’ to ‘it allows for a wider dissemination of new ideas—the whole point of an academic conference’. It’s fascinating to me the way that new modalities of academic discourse can cause such collective discomfort.

Despite this wide range of reactions, some degree of social media accompaniment to traditional academic activities is surely inevitable. But ineluctability can mean that people get swept up, which in turn can mean that clear norms are hard to establish. Luckily, lots of great things were written this week in response to #twittergate. Kathleen Fitzpatrick offers her guide to academic blogging and tweeting. Ernesto Priego gives some practical guidelines to respectful live-tweeting and some helpful resources. Melonie Fullick wrote a thoughtful and measured post on the tension between public and private in academic discourse and how social media might affect that tension. The people at ProfHacker created an open thread discussion of best practices for live-tweeting conferences. Finally, this post from the Easily Distracted blog offers a lighter take (and an entertaining  response to Brian Leiter). This blog is new to me, and I admit that I’m a little bit crushed to find that this blog name is taken!

Recent links from @explorstyle on Twitter

From @fishhookopeneye, a great post on the role—and habit—of accountability in graduate study:

Great advice from @ryancordell on crafting a professional online presence (read the Twitter conversation at the end):

From @DocwritingSIG, a discussion of the perils of thinking of writing as a simple process of ‘writing up’: 

A hilarious column from William Germano: If ‘weblog’ gives us ‘blog’, what other b-words could we imagine?

.@sinandsyntax talks about her ‘crush on verbs’:

From @GradHacker, how to deal with success in grad school without feeling ‘sucstress’:

I’m very much looking forward to reading @thesiswhisperer‘s new ebook! Read her not-shameless plug here: 

From @CopyCurmudgeon, a great perspective on editing (even if you aren’t copyediting other people’s texts): 

From @phdcomics, the official plan, the real plan, and the secret plan: THE PLANS:

From @ThomsonPat, a great suggestion about availing ourselves of writing advice—because academic writing IS writing: 

From @qui_oui, a good roundup (with lots of links) about the recent ‘stale PhD’ conversation: 

From @Professorisin, a discussion of the importance of prestige when selecting a university press:

From @DocwritingSIG, an insightful post on the difficulties in conceptualizing doctoral writing as a research task: 

From @ThomsonPat, a great post on the nature of academic reading and the task of grasping the shape of your field: 

Summary of the #acwri Twitter chat from Sept 20 on academic writing and the use of Twitter:

2 responses to “Links: Live-Tweeting and its Discontents

  1. I wonder if you could speak to the question of writing and style in relation to the various uses of social media. For my part, the writing of a tweet requires a specific set of considerations given the extreme character limitations endemic to the platform. Learning to say something significant under a 140-character constraint seems to me to be valuable for other modes of writing as well. It would be helpful to articulate the transferrable skills.

    The writing of a blog post, too, has much to teach us about attending to audience, writing with clarity and personality, etc., that can be of significant help in other forms of scholarly writing.

    Then, of course, there are the modes of audio communication, in podcasts like the Digital Dialogue. I choose that mode for much of my scholarly communication online precisely because ideas can be playfully tested and developed in a more dynamic way than they can be in writing. But those more dynamic verbal modes of communication certainly inform and enrich my writing.

    • Thanks, Chris. Now I don’t have to speak to that question–you already have! But I have been thinking about a post on style and social media, and I like the angle you suggest. Obviously, social media writing has a strikingly different conventions (both length and tone), but I think it would be interesting to explore how mastering those stylistic conventions affects our more traditional academic communication. Watch this space! I don’t have anything particular to say about audio expression; although my one podcast experience was very fun, I haven’t had much opportunity to think much about those issues more systematically. However, I do think a great deal about teaching style and blogging style–there is no question that the two are closely connected for me. How I say things in class informs how I write on the blog and vice versa, and I believe both forums are better because of that inter-relationship.

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