4 Reasons to Get Your Tweet On…Academically

twitterTwitter is initially an empty space each user individually transforms into a public, dynamic space. You follow other users without obligation or permission based on your interests. Tweets from users you follow then comprise your Twitter feed and are constantly updated as users put up new posts. You can check in several times a day, once a day, once a week or month or even more sporadically—whatever suits your needs. In addition to following users, you may also search topics using hashtags, subscribe to lists, or follow tweets from a conference, such as @LiveTextConf. There really seems to be no right or wrong way to use Twitter. But some may ask, what is the academic value of using Twitter? Is there any?

1: Learning about new research, publications, conferences, conversations: Twitter is a place to keep research findings and insights, while discovering juxtapositions and oddities. Use Twitter as a living archive, one that you can quite easily download to your hard drive every once in a while and comprehensively search. If you search for keywords or proper names, you may find threads and thoughts that can be expanded into larger investigations or arguments.

2: Teaching tool: Create a Twitter assignment, and use that assignment as a way to interact with students. This is a way to model to students not only how academic interests intersect with everyday life but also good interactive etiquette. As with any social media, things can get dicey on Twitter, but even the worst-case examples of Twitter spats can lend themselves to classroom discussions and lessons concerning written communication, the viral potential of the digital, the need to take time for reflection, and how to be respectful when making an argument.

3: Community-building, connecting, promoting: This is about using the tools at hand to help get your work out there to a real, reading audience who is interested in the kinds of things you are researching and writing about. When your book is published, tweet about it. You can tweet little snippets from your article or publication. This can help your book find readers. Pose a question and use a hashtag as a way to bring scholars together on Twitter. Chance are, you will get some smart and useful answers, and who knows how you may connect with these tweeters in the future!

4: A practice in writing: Twitter can help make your prose stronger, clearer and, most important, shorter. We often get into bad habits when we write for narrow disciplinary audiences, and Twitter can help jostle you out of wordy patterns that tend to become unconscious.

Best of all, Twitter is a way to engage in lively critique. It is a vibrant medium for pithy reviews, trenchant commentary and subtle demystification. Twitter, and any social media platform for that matter, collates and curates my worlds in an easy way, providing a platform for learning, engaging, and connecting which rests simply on one’s own interests and availability. And remember, add us to your world by following… @LiveTextedu

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