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Academic Twitter is higher ed people tweeting. What do we think of Academic Twitter?

On the positive side, there are many good things about tweeting academics. Twitter provides a platform and a community.

On Twitter, one’s academic identity and intellectual status is not dependent on one’s position in the higher education hierarchy. An adjunct instructor can exert more Twitter influence than a tenured full-professor, providing they have built and maintained a critical mass of followers.

Where else in higher education is one’s status dependent on the quality of one’s contribution to a community of practice than Academic Twitter?

Still, there are many things about Twitter that leave me queasy.  I’ll enumerate three:

Cliques: There seems to be some sort of analog to the cool kids effect on Academic Twitter. The in-crowd blesses each other with Retweets and Likes.  Who does and doesn’t get Retweeted on the Academic Twitter ends up as a source of endless speculation.  Circles of higher ed people who are smarter, more aware, more progressive, more critical, and more knowing than the rest of us tend to follow and Retweet each other.  How to be invited into the circle of the Academic Twitter cool kids is a mystery.

Careerism: Is it really true in higher education that its not what you know, but who you know? I think it might be. Every job that I’ve ever gotten at a college or university has been a result of networks, connections, and relationships. The postsecondary job market is wicked competitive. Every leadership academic gig features large numbers of candidates.  It should come as no surprise then that academics use the Academic Twitter as one more career networking tool.  Smart higher ed people are strategic in their presence on Academic Twitter.  Building a following, making a network, and communicating with peers and colleagues is ever-more important in navigating an academic career.  There is nothing wrong with networking.  We should just be willing to recognize and own-up to what is going on.

Self-Promotion:  To the sin of Academic Twitter self-promotion, I plead guilty as charged.  I use Twitter in exactly one way: to promote my writing.  Very rarely do I tweet anything else. And why wouldn’t I?  As of this writing, I have have 2,916 followers.  My hope is that this piece about the Academic Twitter, which I will tweet, will push me over the 3,000 mark. If we are being honest with each other, each and every one of us with a substantial Twitter presence is using the platform for self-promotion.  Some large percentage of the academic life is the everyday presentation of self.  The Academic Twitter amplifies our self-promotional urge.

What do you think of Academic Twitter?

Who is studying Academic Twitter?

Are you a member of the Academic Twitter nation?

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