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Archive for the ‘social networking’ Category

I’m an enthusiastic user of Twitter, mainly using Tweetbot on my iOS devices. As well as tweeting myself I follow other tweets, including using search terms to find things. And over the last year I’ve used a number of searches repeatedly, saving them so I can search for them again later. And I still have these saved terms, and they provide an interesting overview of my year in the past. Here they are, in chronological order.

#dwsr

This is short for Doctor Who set reports, and is used for tweets including updates and photos from people who witness filming. I used this search tag to follow filming for the anniversary special. I look forward to using it again in 2014 to follow what’s happening with the new series and new lead actor.

#watertown

Twitter can follow breaking news as it happens, and rarely was this more evident than during the manhunt for the Boston bomber. News agencies were trying to play catch up themselves using Twitter. There was some concern at the time that members of the public tweeting updates were compromising the search, but as someone observing the events play out it was riveting.

#archaccess

I participated in the “Democratising or privileging: the future of access to archives” conference held at the Apex Hotel in Dundee in April. I could only attend one day of the conference, the day I was speaking, and used this Twitter hashtag to follow what was happening on the other day, as fellow attendees live tweeted what was happening at the conference, and their impressions of other talks. I blogged about my day at the conference.

#edbookfest

Each year in August the Edinburgh International Book Festival is held in Charlotte Square. I’ve attended it a number of times, including in most recent years. I could only go briefly this time, on one night, but used the hashtag to follow what was happening on other days. Again I blogged about my time there.

#sherlock

I’m a big fan of the modernised TV version of Sherlock Holmes produced by the BBC. I’m eagerly looking forward to it returning to TV on New Year’s Day, but earlier this year I used the search hashtag to follow filming, and news that was coming out about the new episodes in production.

#royalbaby

I’m no royalist, and would prefer a president. But I do have a soft spot for one royal couple, who attended St Andrews University, like my husband and me, and met their future spouse there, again like us.

#sharp13

In 2012 I attended my second SHARP (Society for the History of Authorship, Reading & Publishing) conference. In 2012 it was held in Dublin in Ireland. This year it was in Philadelphia in the USA, too far for me to go. But I was able to follow the conference via Twitter and this hashtag. Again a number of attendees were live tweeting their impressions of the papers as given, which was entertaining to follow. I plan to attend the 2014 SHARP conference in Antwerp.

#ennies

I’m a roleplayer, regularly playing the game of Call of Cthulhu. The ENnie Awards are some of the biggest awards in the gaming world, and again I was able to follow the awards as they were announced via Twitter.

ebay down

Not a very exciting search term, but useful for when eBay went down for quite a prolonged period. As often happens I could find out more information about what was going on via Twitter than official sources.

hawick

Often I’ll search for tweets referring to my home town.

flodden

This year saw the 500th anniversary of the Battle of Flodden, a disastrous battle between Scotland and England. It is not as well known as other British battles, such as Culloden or Bannockburn. But for Borderers it is an important part of our shared history.

charles mckean

My PhD supervisor died earlier this year. In the weeks after his death I used this search term to search for obituaries and other references to him. I blogged about my own memories of him.

“missing episodes” and #missingepisodes

As a Doctor Who fan 2013 has been a big year, with the 50th anniversary of the series’s start. But one of the most exciting events for me was the announcement of the recovery of 9 lost Patrick Troughton episodes. Before the news was confirmed the Internet was awash with rumours. There are still rumours that there may be more recovered episodes yet to be revealed. Marco Polo perhaps?

renaissance conference

About a month after my PhD supervisor died a conference to celebrate his work was held at Perth. He was a noted scholar of Scottish Renaissance architectural history, and the conference, which had been planned by him before he died, celebrated both his work in this field and that of other scholars inspired by what he had done. It was an event of mixed emotions, but ultimately positive in its outlook. Again I blogged my thoughts.

#ifcomp

I’ve played text adventure games since 1980. In the 1980s I was a huge fan of Infocom, as well as British companies like Magnetic Scrolls. In the 1990s a series of text adventure creation languages became increasingly popular, and in 1995 the first Annual Interactive Fiction Competition was held, and has been held ever since, in the autumn. Each year I try to play and judge as many games as possible. This year was no exception, and I used the hashtag to see other people’s responses.

#anAdventureInSpaceAndTime

Another Doctor Who hashtag, this time for my favourite part of the main anniversary celebrations: the docudrama telling the early history of the series. There were quite a few hashtags around, including the much shorter #AAISAT

@RBS_Help

It has not been a good year for Royal Bank of Scotland customers, with some major system failures. We have had enough, and will be changing bank early in the New Year.

#scotstorm

Early in December saw another very bad storm. Affecting among other places Scotland, it led to this hashtag, which provided updates, including pictures of the (now infamous) trampoline which a train hit between Edinburgh and Glasgow.

#lostbear

One of the most heartwarming stories this year was that of a little girl who lost her cuddly toy on a train, and the quest of a woman via social media to reunite the toy with its person. Luckily it had a happy ending, just in time for Christmas.

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Early this morning I got a tweet from @TwBirthday to say it was my 5th Twitter birthday. I’d joined the site on 5th June 2008.

Initially I followed astronomy tweeters, such as the team behind the Mars Phoenix lander. I studied astronomy for two years as part of my science degree at St Andrews in the early 1990s, and would have continued to honours level had the university not just scrapped the joint honours Computer Science and Astronomy degree option (my husband would have too – he ended up choosing the space side, I went for the CS route). Then over time I followed others: fellow Call of Cthulhu gamers and enthusiasts, archivists and historians, professional writers (I find the writing process fascinating), and later computer scientists.

It’s been an interesting 5 years. I tweet a lot now myself, but mainly use Twitter as a source of finding out interesting new things. For example I often learn of relevant academic conferences through it, or interesting new archival resources. I also find it a good medium for chatting to people. For example I’ve been able to contact quite a few of my favourite authors with queries or comments, and get tweets back quickly from them: something that would have been impossible in the pre-Internet era.

I’m currently in the middle of analysing the 1000 or so tweet streams that I follow on Twitter, to see how they break down in terms of numbers of historians, archivists, gamers, astronomy, etc. I’m curious about this myself, and was able to extract the list of Tweeters I follow using BirdSong. Now I have a big spreadsheet that I’m slowly categorising, as the mood grabs me, to work out the numbers. It’s very similar to what I did during my PhD for books: having a big spreadsheet of titles, and categorising roughly by subject, then looking at the overall statistics.

Meanwhile I will close with some words I wrote here on 23rd May, in a blog post reflecting on the pros and cons of various social networks:

The most useful social network I find for following academics is Twitter. This only works for academics who tweet regularly, but I follow a lot of historians, and archivists, and many of them tweet about their research in progress, interesting conferences, and new publications. On the downside following these tweets takes time, regularly. I follow nearly 1000 people on Twitter (not just academics), and given how knocked out I am I can’t see all their tweets. But I put a bit of time in each day to follow them, using Flipboard on my iPad to browse hours of recent tweets in a nice way. And I find the time put in is well rewarded with the info I get back. I also tweet myself. I describe myself on Twitter as an “Academic historian, genealogist, former computer scientist, and Doctor Who fan”, which pretty much sums up the subject pattern of my tweets. But I find tweeting rewarding, and often make good contacts, and have good discussions on Twitter, with fellow academics and researchers.

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I was having lunch yesterday with a friend, and something we were chatting about got me thinking about the pros and cons of different social networks for academics.

I’m an independent academic historian, unable to work in academia due to a progressive neurological disease, though I have an honorary research fellowship. So I’m essentially non-affiliated, and don’t have, for example, a departmental contact address.

Because of this I’ve made a conscious effort to set up an online presence for myself. I have a web page. You can tell I’m a former computer scientist: like most academic computer scientists it’s remarkably simple HTML coding, and looks quite retro. But it’s functional, and describes my credentials, and interests, and gives links to other things.

But I’ve also reached out to various social networks. Linkedin is nice for keeping a contact method with people I’ve known in the past and more recently. And I quite like getting the update emails, on people’s new jobs and so on. But I don’t find it very useful for keeping up to date with people’s research, and, for example, publications. I’ve found that most Linkedin members don’t update their profiles that often. It’s more a handy keep-a-contact method for me.

Academia.edu has often been lauded as the most appropriate social network for academics. But I find it the least useful. Again the problem is that most people don’t update their profiles that often. Also it tends to only favour completed research, where it’s been written up, and, for example, published as a paper. Research in progress is less likely to be mentioned. I do like the weekly emails I get telling me about new papers in my areas of interest. But even these are just a drop in the ocean, since most members on the site don’t update their profiles that much. And I don’t find following other academics has been terribly useful. I also don’t like the site’s tendency to over email. I’ve fiddled with my settings, so I no longer get an email every time someone looks at my profile etc. Oh and can I just note how irritating it is that I don’t seem to be able to set up a secondary affiliation for my honorary research fellowship. As soon as I do that it clobbers my primary independent academic status. And vice versa. Aarrgghh!

The most useful social network I find for following academics is Twitter. This only works for academics who tweet regularly, but I follow a lot of historians, and archivists, and many of them tweet about their research in progress, interesting conferences, and new publications. On the downside following these tweets takes time, regularly. I follow nearly 1000 people on Twitter (not just academics), and given how knocked out I am I can’t see all their tweets. But I put a bit of time in each day to follow them, using Flipboard on my iPad to browse hours of recent tweets in a nice way. And I find the time put in is well rewarded with the info I get back. I also tweet myself. I describe myself on Twitter as an “Academic historian, genealogist, former computer scientist, and Doctor Who fan”, which pretty much sums up the subject pattern of my tweets. But I find tweeting rewarding, and often make good contacts, and have good discussions on Twitter, with fellow academics and researchers.

I’m also on Google+, again as a sort of storefront for my academic identity. My Google+ profile is handy for linking to all my other online presences. But it’s a bit of a ghost site, and although I use it, and post to it, I don’t make many contacts with academics there.

The major social network I haven’t mentioned so far is Facebook. I don’t find that useful for being in touch with academics. It’s more for keeping in contact with friends and family. And of course it’s a closed network, not open to general readers unless they are Facebook members. Even then I have my settings set so only my Facebook friends can see my posts. It has a role, but not for academia for me.

For independent scholars like me I would strongly recommend cultivating an online presence. But, as I’ve argued, Twitter is likely to be the most useful academic social networking tool you can find, and the one that gives most rewards for the time you put into it. Even following a few key active academics in your field is likely to reap rewards.

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