Over at The Junto, Jonathan Wilson has a nice post on the pros and cons of livetweeting at academic conferences. As someone who often live-tweets conference sessions I found his post very informative.
Why do I live tweet? For many of the reasons suggested by the people Wilson interviewed. Here are two of them:
- To share information with those who are not present. I see livetweeting as a form of doing public history. Is this a form of “self-promotional” display, as one recent critic of the practice has suggested? Perhaps. But so is giving a public lecture, or writing an op-ed piece, or publishing an article, or teaching a class, or blogging.
- Selfishly, live-tweeting helps me to stay focused on the session. I have a hard time digesting papers at conferences, especially when they are read at a rapid rate. I see tweeting as a form of note taking. When I tweet I get a lot more out of the session than if I don’t tweet.
In the end, Wilson is right:
Conference livetweeting is socially awkward at the best of times, and it involves real risks. Its value depends on the good judgment of those who engage in it; they need to know how to read a room as well as how to summarize someone else’s work accurately. It also depends to an uncomfortable degree on the good faith of the far-flung audience. We rely on them to understand that livetweeting is ad-hoc, fallible, and fragmentary—a series of impressions that could be misleading in unpredictable ways. Thus, we should expect academic livetweeting to change as the overall culture of Twitter changes. And we probably need to be prepared to adopt defensive measures as Twitter becomes (so far) an increasingly charged public space.
Read the entire piece here.