This week’s chat was hosted by Hazel Ferguson, co-founder of #ECRchat. Hazel is a postdoc researching the cultural politics of alternative food systems in the Northern Rivers of NSW, Australia. She tweets here.
Unsurprisingly, the topic of academics using social media has been around as a possible live chat topic since #ECRChat started. As a group of Twitter users, we have naturally been interested in reflecting on our practices in more depth. Although I kept the questions quite general, this chat was a great first opportunity to reflect on some of the key themes that are emerging for early career academics using social media.
The experience of being involved with #ECRchat (along with other academic Twitter chats such as #PhDchat and #acwri) has already suggested that maintaining an active social media profile gives academics access to a degree of influence, as well as a sense of connection with professional networks beyond those they would typically have access to.
It seems that a growing awareness of the potential of social media use is hitting academia, with a growing number of blogs, presentations and published articles reflecting on the trend. Ernesto Priego has blogged about The power of we, not me, Amber Regisa has published about Early Career Victorianists and Social Media: Impact, Audience and Online Identities, and Regan Forrest has presented her personal reflections about Social Media as a Research and Collaboration Tool. These are just a small (excellent!) sample of the work being done in this space.
At the same time, it is clear that social media use poses questions about its limitations and possible risks to many of us. Many of our colleagues are not using social media, so our responsibilities to our institutions (and theirs to us) often remain unclear. As well, controversies ranging from a university employee being outed for trolling at Australia’s Monash University, to twitter discussions about the ethics of tweeting conference presentations give rise to concerns about sharing too much, saying the wrong thing, or being misinterpreted.
This week’s chat was a great chance to explore some of these issues as a group. Within the tiny corner of the internet that is #ECRchat, it is clear that Twitter provides great opportunities for networking, information sharing, feedback and promoting research.
You can catch up on the chat via this Storify.
You can download the entire chat log #ECRchat_tweets_2012_10_11 [.pdf].
There are many more social media issues remaining that could be picked up in future discussions, and I look forward to our next chat on the 25th of October.
#ECRchat will be back at the same time on October 25. UK chat time 11:00-12:00 (BST), Europe chat time 12:00-13:00 (CEST), Australia chat time 21:00-22:00 (EDST)