Advice on Academic Blogging, Tweeting, Whatever

Over the weekend, something hashtagged as #twittergate was making the rounds among the tweeps. I haven’t dug into the full history (though Adeline storyfied it), but the debate has raised questions about a range of forms of conference reporting, and as a result, posts and columns both old and new exploring the risks and rewards of scholarly blogging have been making the rounds. Last night sometime, Adeline asked me what advice I have for junior faculty who get caught in conference blogging kerfuffles – which I take as standing in for a range of conflicts that can arise between those who are active users of various kinds of social media and those who are less familiar and less comfortable with the new modes of communicating.

This was far too big a question to take on in 140 characters, and I didn’t want to issue a knee-jerk response. I’m still piecing together my thoughts, so this post will no doubt evolve, either in the comments or in future posts. But here are a few initial thoughts:

1. Do not let dust-ups such as these stop you from blogging/tweeting/whatever. These modes of direct scholar-to-scholar communication are increasingly important, and if you’ve found community in them, you should work to maintain it. (And if you’re looking for better connections to the folks in your field or better visibility for your work and you aren’t using these channels, you should seriously consider them.)

2. Listen carefully to these debates, though, as they will tell you something important about your field and the folks in it. If there are folks on Twitter who are saying that they are less than comfortable with some of its uses, or if there are blog posts exploring the ups and downs of blogging, you might want to pay attention. There’s a lot to be learned from these points of tension in any community.

3. Use your blog/twitter/whatever professionally. This ought to be completely obvious, of course, but the key here is to really think through what professional use means in an academic context. In our more formal writing, we’re extremely careful to distinguish between our own arguments and the ideas of others — between our interpretation of what someone else has said and the conclusions that we go on to draw — and we have clear textual signals that mark those distinctions. Such distinctions can and should exist in social media as well: if you’re live-tweeting a presentation, you should attribute ideas to the speaker but simultaneously make clear that the tweets are your interpretation of what’s being said. The same for blogging. The point is that none of these channels are unmediated by human perspective. They’re not directly transmitting what the speaker is saying to a broader audience. And the possibilities for misunderstanding — is this something the speaker said, or your response to it? — are high. Bringing the same kinds of scrupulousness to blogging and tweeting that we bring to formal writing are is key. [Edited 12.55pm. Bad English professor!]

4. Make your tweets and blog posts your own. As I understand it, some of the concern about the tweeting and blogging of conference papers has to do with intellectual property concerns; does a blog post about a presentation undermine the claims of the speaker to the material? The answer is of course not, but if you want to avoid conflict around such IP issues, ensure that your posts focus on your carefully signalled responses to the talk, rather than on the text of the talk itself. This is the same mode in which we do all of our work — taking in and responding to the arguments of others — and it should be recognizable as such.

5. If somebody says they’d prefer not to be tweeted or blogged, respect that. Whatever your feelings about the value of openness — and openness ranks very high among my academic values — not everyone shares them. While I have a hard time imagining giving a talk that I didn’t wish more people could hear, I know there are other scholars who are less comfortable with the broadcast of in-process material. And while I might like to nudge them toward more openness, it’s neither my place nor is it worth the potential bad feeling to do so.

And finally:

6. Relax. People are going to freak out about the things they’re going to freak out about. If you’re working in a new field, or in alternative forms — if you’re really pushing at the boundaries of scholarly work in the ways that you should — somebody’s not going to like it. Always. The thing to do is to make your argument as professionally as you can, to demonstrate the value of the ways that you’re working — and then to get back to work. Doing your work well, and being able to show how your work is paying off, are the point.

That’s what I’ve got at the moment. What am I missing?

01 October 2012 by KF | Categories: academia, blogging, twitter

Comments (67)

  1. MT @kfitz ‘s very sound “Advice on Academic Blogging, Tweeting, Whatever” http://t.co/CHL0XXdM #twittergate

  2. Great list! I’d add “Dust-ups are not the product of new media, but have always been with us.” No matter what your field, you can probably find examples of heated debates being played out in book reviews, journal articles, or conference presentations themselves – but those debates happen in slow motion as serial monologues. New media publishing speeds up such communication, and makes them more public, participatory, and conversational. These traits both increase intensity & make the conflicts blow-over more quickly, especially if involved parties can come to the digital table & publicly converse following the rest of your rules. I see this as a net gain, but obviously not everyone does.

  3. Pingback: Research Blogging: Links and Resources | Electronic Textuality and Theory at Western

  4. +1 RT @adelinekoh sound advice from the inimitable @kfitz on #twittergate: live tweeting acad conferences http://t.co/wv5vHZWl

  5. Excellent, measured advice about tweeting/blogging from conferences: http://t.co/YUpaNRul

  6. Advice on Academic Blogging, Tweeting, Whatever: http://t.co/rkiucTXq #academia #socialmedia

  7. Looking fwd to @MarkMcDayter´s http://t.co/9VHIlbql after this @kfitz http://t.co/rhKZHTP4 and this @readywriting http://t.co/ExqUMWAo etc..

  8. Interesting – Advice on Academic Blogging, Tweeting, Whatever – http://t.co/AmsSJw2A via @kfitz #vicpln #edchat #Edtech @debbateman 

  9. Some good thoughts on social media in conferences http://t.co/pco30tH9

  10. Advice on Academic Blogging, Tweeting, Whatever: http://t.co/IpUyth1m

  11. “If somebody says they’d prefer not to be tweeted or blogged, respect that” http://t.co/clhVRUe1 –> What does the crowd think? #socialQI

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  13. To tweet or not to tweet live from conference? Thoughtful blog: http://t.co/EKdNyyDc @moonflowerlc @LizBrooksIBCLC @Iamambermccann

  14. If there was ever a time and place for academic civil disobedience, it’s tweeting published data at “closed” conferences.

    On the other hand, if the speaker either clearly states or it is written on the slide the words “unpublished data,” then I won’t divulge specifics.

    But the truth is in my fields of interest — molecular and cell biology, genetics, biochemistry — 95% of talks feature data published between 2007 – present, so most privacy claims are patently absurd.

  15. Going to a conference? Planning to tweet from the sessions? If so, read this for tips on good practice from @kfitz http://t.co/rZJ16sVP

  16. Thoughtful, pragmatic, useful: Advice on Academic Blogging, Tweeting, Whatever | Planned Obsolescence http://t.co/n35GZqnU

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  18. Sansad summering efter het debatt. RT @PeORehnquist: 6 goda råd: Advice on Academic Blogging, Tweeting, Whatever: http://t.co/sm1heiNg

  19. [tag] Advice on Academic Blogging, Tweeting, Whatever | Planned Obsolescence http://t.co/J0apEtZf

  20. MT @briancroxall In case you missed it, here’s @kfitz on blogging and tweeting about others’ work: http://t.co/Dw3vex23

  21. From @kfitz, sanity on #twittergate – Academic Blogging, Tweeting, Whatever: http://t.co/7ZOylsKB

  22. @kfitz: Advice on Academic Blogging, Tweeting, Whatever. http://t.co/XOkzcpOS

  23. Advice on Academic Blogging, Tweeting, Whatever | Planned Obsolescence http://t.co/U4Kdax0i

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  25. Thoughtful + useful advice on tweeting/blogging at academic conferences: http://t.co/6jdOCRGz (via @parezcoydigo)

  26. Advice on Academic Blogging, Tweeting, Whatever: http://t.co/DEz6nPFA

  27. Hmm #masa2012 MT @futbolprof Thoughtful advice on tweeting/blogging at conferences: http://t.co/nq9qKEJT (via @parezcoydigo)

  28. Advice on Academic Blogging, Tweeting, Whatever – Kathleen Fitzpatrick (MLA) http://t.co/tFvQ3CcW

  29. Pingback: Open-Thread Wednesday: Best Practices for Live-Tweeting at Conferences? - ProfHacker - The Chronicle of Higher Education

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  31. Advice on Academic Blogging, Tweeting, Whatever: http://t.co/FNPcIsMQ

  32. Pingback: To tweet or not to tweet the professional conference? (Some thoughts in 140-character chunks.) | Adventures in Ethics and Science

  33. Advice on Academic Blogging, Tweeting, Whatever – Relax… http://t.co/IQxGZw0A – @kfitz RT @Wendyrlibrarian #Twitter

  34. Advice on Academic Blogging, Tweeting, Whatever: http://t.co/bgMx19OC @kuwp #edchat #highered #edtech

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  36. STUDENTS! why not Blog, Tweet and make videos about your studies? : ‘Advice on Academic Blogging, Tweeting, Whatever’: http://t.co/m01AlQdg

  37. A helpful post by Kathleen Fitzpatrick on tweeting–her sixth point hit home.
    http://t.co/MvRYDUsy

  38. Pingback: Links: Live-Tweeting and its Discontents | Explorations of Style

  39. . @judybrophy Also see @kfitz ‘s recent article on the same topic. http://t.co/dSDXJAoH

  40. Advice on Academic Blogging, Tweeting, Whatever: http://t.co/un7XyO9P

  41. advice on livetweeting etc academic conferences: http://t.co/QbK3wez7

  42. More on the #twittergate academic conference tweeting thing (from @kfitz): http://t.co/OveT3IGK

  43. Advice on Academic Blogging, Tweeting, Whatever: http://t.co/BNnyLRYl via @kfitz #EdTech #Highered

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  45. @edgchat just came across this blogpost about academic tweeting: http://t.co/SIFfR1vz stuff for some of us to consider? #edgchat

  46. Pingback: Twitter and Safe Academic Spaces | Words Are My Game

  47. Advice on Academic Blogging, Tweeting, Whatever: http://t.co/UFy1jWOE

  48. Advice on Academic Blogging, Tweeting, Whatever | Planned Obsolescence http://t.co/XpCNj6Zr (via Instapaper)

  49. Advice on Academic Blogging, Tweeting, Whatever | Planned Obsolescence http://t.co/5FFaSxfS Thoughts #phdchat ?

  50. @laurapasquini V. useful = “be careful to distinguish between our own arguments & the ideas of others” on Twitter etc. http://t.co/6oRKyqyT

  51. @shareski seems relevant to your survey http://t.co/2L47R6Ok

  52. MT @laurapasquini: Advice on Academic Blogging, Tweeting http://t.co/BsEpAdq3 Thoughts #phdchat ?

  53. Won’t be at #ASTR2012 but I will be following the hashtag. Remember lessons of #twittergate Let’s make it a useful tool http://t.co/OveT3IGK

  54. @FeloniusScrwtp tried & failed to live tweet. All my tweets looked like stupid platitudes. Also thought of @kfitz & her http://t.co/fFUjopOF

  55. Advice on Academic Blogging, Tweeting, Whatever: http://t.co/XepnmcZI Useful post follwing #twittergate by @kfitz

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Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported This work by Kathleen Fitzpatrick is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.
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