Chirp chirp, chirp chirp!
Oh wait, not that kind of twittering.
Other than the six months where I worked for the Leeds Humanities Research Institute as an administrative intern, I have never used twitter, though I occasionally gawk at the feeds of others. I will be following the strand of this post for those who don’t wish to set up an account.
First, Some Reading
The prompt for this post suggests we do a bit of reading about the uses of twitter. The first is a Guardian article from 2011, written by social media executive Simon Caine, about the role of twitter in his career development. The article is mostly about sensible strategies for getting yourself out there and advertising your job search. I’d question how applicable the advice is to everyone but I can certainly see how it applies in my industries—librarianship and history both have fairly active twitter communities.
Another Guardian article, written by Kerry Provenzano in 2014, emphasises how students can use twitter in their job searches. Here the emphasis is also on showing what you are up to, but also on demonstrating engagement with a company or field. For a number of the students Provenzano spoke to, twitter was a means to promote their blogs and in some way the article reads equally as promotion of blogging and of twitter.
The third bit of reading is the report, we are told much cited, about ‘Using Twitter in university research, teaching, and impact activities’ from LSE. The link on the 23 things page is broken but the report can currently be found here. I particularly appreciated the ‘back to basics’ tone of the article, which manages to be comprehensive without being patronising. Writing on this blog post then stopped for twenty or so minutes as I went off to investigate their list of favourite arts and humanities tweeters…
Then, Some Searching
Mostly, I read twitter feeds I am interested in, and occasionally these lead me to other twitter feeds (which can occasionally lead to an evening of twitter reading). But I have never actually searched on twitter for things I am interested in, so here’s a go!
- #twitterstorians I have never before looked for this hashtag in part because I tend to focus specifically on individuals rather than the field as a whole. My impression is also that this is a pretty well-loved hashtag is certainly borne out, though searching for it impresses me with its usefulness for browsing rather than for finding things out. Also, I am a bit confused by how results are organised–some from several days ago are near the top, others from today are further down the page. Switching from the ‘top’ tab to the ‘Latest’ tab presents things in a reassuring chronological order
- Libraries Let’s use an even broader search term and see what happens! Lots of tweets from users with Library in their their twitter handle, lots of tweets using the word library. #librarychat seems to be used much more for what I happen to be interested in, i.e. tweets from academic libraries and librarians
- #medievaltwitter (or, strictly speaking, my search term was ‘medieval twitter’ because I forgot it was a hashtag) So far I see lots of new publications and conference tweets and political opinions. It has taken me a ridiculously long time to write this sentence because I fell very hard down a rabbit hole of reading other people’s feeds.
For the sort of ‘what are they / it up to’, browsing twitter is clearly useful and I supposed it could be useful from a networking perspective in terms of finding librarians and historians with shared interests. I find the bitty format of twitter difficult to read so it’s probably going to remain a way for me to find supplementary information about people and institutions, rather than my first tool for research or catching up. Similarly, I don’t see twitter coming before my use of websites and blogs to find out with conference and career development opportunities, though I may use it to find further information about these in the future. In particular, there is the opportunity to catch up on or supplement information gained from conference papers, which I’ve never before used and may well try at IAML-UK Study Weekend 2019.