‘Tech 4’ Networking: Twitter
This first post of the ‘Tech 4’ series after the unannounced end-of-year break is about a social network tool I have been using since September. Twitter has been around since 2006, but I was resistant. For a long time I couldn’t see much attraction in it. Recently I decided to give it a go, to my surprise there are many other web apps intended to improve the experience with Twitter – and some other social networks for that matter. I felt like somebody that had never seen a mobile or a computer trying to operate the latest smartphones.
Around the same time I came across an article by Clive Thomson published on Wired entitled ‘Your Casual Acquaintances on Twitter Are Better Than Your Close Friends on Facebook’. That article was the last thing I needed to be fully convinced that I was missing out too much.
And I discovered a whole new world.
Twitter shortens distances, allows us to communicate with people we otherwise wouldn’t. I would risk to say that, for academics, in many senses it is as important as participating in conferences. Of course we don’t get the chance of presenting our researches, but we have a much more direct and permanent tool for communication. Twitter can also make connections to other platforms, such as SlideShare, where presentations can be made available. So the tools are there, the hard bit is to make all of them – together somehow – work for you.
In my opinion, these are further great reasons to join twitter:
- Keep up to date with general news in topics of your interest
- Be part on conversations about research processes and about your specific topic
- Sharing research ideas and getting feedback
- Sharing content including your research output
As other online tools, some aspects of it can also be intimidating, so it is worth taking into consideration:
- Be mindful of content – Be aware of the image you want to communicate. Your biography is very important, but also the content you share and the tone of the comments you make.
- Do not lock your account – The more followers you get, more people with similar interests you will have to exchange experiences and interesting information. Locking your account will make harder for people to feel welcome. A good way to go is being careful about the shared content and sharing with everybody that believes you have interesting things to add.
Twitter probably takes less time than you imagine and is great to make you and your work visible. This is my experience so far. I believe it will be worth writing again about this topic in a few months as I keep discovering new aspects of twitter than can be helpful in many ways. I am sure there is still a lot to discover.
Have you already joined? What are your thoughts on it?
PS: The thoughts and points of view reproduced in this post are 100% mine and do not mean endorsement by my colleagues, but this post has been largely inspired by a ‘meeting-over-a-coffee’ today at Lincoln University. In this meeting with Victoria Metcalf (@VicMetcalf_NZ), Rob Cruickshank (@bugblokenz), Alana Harrison (@alanaharrison), Glen L Creasy (@sabrosiavit) and Ken Hughey (@Kentabury) we discussed why and how Twitter can be useful for academics. Thanks guys!