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Friday, 5 August 2016

It all depends on what you mean by social media

I have been moved to post in this rather desultory blog of mine by noticing that there is a furore going on over this article: We should not have to parade ourselves on social media to please our employers or be considered enthusiastic 

Well, I'm a bit dubious that employers should be demanding this of academics, unless it's considered part of their core job within working hours, but if they're doing on what might somewhat euphemistically considered their own time, it's up to them.

On another hand, speaking as someone whose day-job was being an archivist and who contrived what I think is a fairly satisfactory career as an independent scholar in my own time and with a few periods of research leave, the internet made a significant difference to me. I set up my own website in 1998, and I suspect that far more people have accessed my Victorian Sex Factoids page than have read my books, articles and chapters. I also set up the precursors of H-Histsex, on free sites offering listserv hosting in perpetuity (they lied). Later on I set up this blog for academic/archivist purposes, although I had already been blogging elsewhere in a more informal and social way.

'Social media' is not all one thing. As can be seen from the foregoing I came of internet-age when listservs were the happening thing for geographically-scattered academics to communicate with one another - and they still serve this purpose, somewhat below present-day radar. Problems arise when people think that 'everybody' is using one particular medium.

This blog post bears witness to the fact that I often see something in a tweet and think I should respond but 140 characters is just not the medium for what I want to say.

And on further twitter-problems: what does one do when somebody links a blog-post in a tweet, and one sees that although one is in general concurrence, they have made a blooper within one's own area of expertise - not something that could be clarified in 140 characters. Also on closer inspection the post was written several years ago. Couldn't find an email for the writer.

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