Episode 49 – The Twouble with Twecklers

7 December, 20095 comments

Does Twitter make conferences more productive, less hierarchical, and more friendly, or does it just give new voice to confidence-crushing comments from the peanut gallery? Steve joins Mills, Dan, and Tom to talk about the phenomenon of “twecklers” and Google’s efforts to speed up the Web, including a SPDY internet protocol, a new DNS (Domain Name System) service, and a new systems programming language. And, by popular demand, we bring back our picks of the podcast.

Links mentioned on the podcast:
Danah Boyd on Twecklers
Conference Humiliation from the Chronicle of Higher Education
The Overbite Project brings Gopher to Firefox
The Art of Community, by Jono Bacon
Readability
Zotero File Storage

Running Time: 53:53
Download the mp3

Categorized under Google, Twitter

5 comments to “Episode 49 – The Twouble with Twecklers”

  1. Cameron Blevins : 11th December, 2009

    I agree with the overall characterizations of Twitter, especially the kind of double edged sword social media in general presents for grad students like myself. Blogging and Twitter have unquestionably granted me access to a community of academic peers that I would not have otherwise. Being able to communicate with tenured professors as (relative) equals on a somewhat informal basis is invaluable. But Mills also brings up a good point – I’m hyperaware as a first-year grad student that every blog post or tweet is made in a public forum, for better or for worse. If I say something stupid in that forum, it’s out there and there’s not really a chance to hit Undo. But in my opinion the benefits it’s already brought me far outweigh the potential pitfalls.

  2. Mills : 11th December, 2009

    Thanks for the comment Cameron. Your point about being aware of everything you post online being available is a good one in that it speaks to the need for everyone, not just historians, to pay close attention to their digital identity. Do we really want hiring committees, potential funders, our students, our colleagues to read (or see) certain things about us? If the answer is “no” then it shouldn’t be posted online.

    That said, I think the reverse is also true, namely that we can build very effective digital identities for ourselves by posting content that contributes to discussions of the things we care about in ways that advance the conversation in useful directions.

  3. julian : 12th December, 2009

    About the tweeting discussion, I was in venue where there was a lot of ‘back channel’ discussion going on, and I found that it was distracting. Also, it seemed like there were instances when a more senior person was bored and engaging in random banter, and this encouraged more junior ones to follow. My point, coinciding with that made in the podcast, being that senior figures have a responsibility to be aware of their impact.

    In relation to the danah boyd affair, one thing you didn’t mention is that she could not see the Twitter feed herself, which accentuated her inability to manage the situation.

    Actually, I like the idea of a Twitter feed being projected for all to see, and I suspect that incidents of ‘Tweckling’ will be lessened by the public visibility of the tweets, once people get around to establishing some common standards of behaviour, and so on.

  4. Brian Croxall : 23rd December, 2009

    I thought it was interesting that Mills made the comparison of tweeting at conferences to the way that students (or colleagues) will occasionally say things online or via email that you would never see in person. But this is where the difference with Twitter lies. Since it is real-time and in public (most of the time), you have an incentive to *not* behave badly. It’s one thing to post a response to a class forum, late at night, and not think about things. It seems to me to be quite another to be posting during a conference session when you know others IN THAT SESSION will be reading what you say immediately. The institutional pressures at that point will encourage you to behave.

    And yes: Twitter has been a great leveler for my experience of academia. Since many institutions have only a handful of people that work in a particular field, I have found that Twitter puts me in touch with a much larger section of colleagues (in contemporary literature; in digital humanities) than I could ever get locally.

  5. Dominik Lukes : 31st December, 2009

    I’ve been trying to get some UK academics on Twitter for a while but the notion of a hashtag at an academic conference is still completely foreign outside tech conferences-we’ll see what 2010 will bring in that respect. I’m marginally involved in organizing two conferences, so I’ll try to push it. In other words, I wish I’d have your kinds of problems in my field.

    Speaking of which, one aspect in which Twitter is like any other mode of communication (to which you alluded but not perhaps emphasized enough) is that like with email and usenet, people will learn how to use it appropriately within the confines of their socialized inventory of interaction. Of course, this appropriateness will include deviations (both unwitting and purposeful) from the norm. Your discussion is definitely part of the process of socialization of Twitter into the modal array of academic discourse. (A good source of examples of this process is the language of advertising which is constantly changing to stay ahead of this socialization of meanings).

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