I attended an interesting workshop yesterday at LJMU called “Getting Published”. We looked at how to get published in journal publications, book publishing, presenting at conferences and the difficulty of publishing full stop etc. In addition, a good conversation developed around the importance and significance of blogging and the use of social media.
I am incredibly new to the blogging world, but it is something that I have enjoyed doing and I am committed to making it accessible to readers, academic or otherwise. I am probably ruining the fundamental rules of blogging here, but I think disseminating information to as many people as possible is important! I was at another workshop last week “Academic Blogging” and I realised that I prefer to blur the lines between academic research and just enjoying learning new things. Conversations and discussions are always more appealing to me than tackling a 400 page books with difficult explorations!
Social media is rocketing in importance with information bouncing around from all angles. However, the difficulty is that everybody has a public voice and if your tweets are public for example, you open yourself up to scrutiny, harassment and all kinds of weirdness. Two examples from yesterday’s discussion was about someone’s research about politics and the armchair politicians voicing their opinions with no actual substance. Another researcher said that their friend had been stalked because of her online presence.
So where can we draw the line?
We are either not blogging enough or we are tweeting too much or we are being too involved in discussions or we are not being visible enough – it is a difficult situation to be in a researcher.
I think the keyword for the day was ‘visibility’ (reminded me of Stuart Milk’s lecture in March) and being receptive, responsible but all reactionary with social media. For instance, tweet your research and be open to criticism but remember that some armchair historians will always have their opinions and to not respond to them. Controversial research raises personal responses that usually mean people what to put their ‘2p worth’ in.
On the whole, any academic work associated with my research has been enjoyed and I have received positive feedback from it. Only after posting about Sunday Politics a couple of weeks ago about the build up to the Metro Mayor of Liverpool did I have some bad feedback. I wrote a tweet about Tabitha Moreton for the Women’s Equality Party and I received so much positive responses from WEP members around the country and different supporters. I two men be derogatory and misogynistic with one user saying,
‘So what are they doing for the down trodden men that put their lives on the line every day for you loverly women?’
I should not this response came from a person who bio includes things like, ‘diversity = white genocide’ and who favours Trump and Le Pen as well as Brexit – I mean need I say anymore!
I was bombarded with screenshots, tweets, quotes and people being tagged into the conversation in about 3 minutes. Although I thought this was a great way of being in the folds of politics and the quick responses showed the power of social media, it also showed how far people go to to troll and to goad responses. I went back and forth with several individuals before I realised is this really how I want to spend my Sunday afternoon?
Inevitably the answer was no and I quickly ignored the responses and got on with watching some Rupaul’s Drag Race!
Visibility is great in practice but difficult in theory. People tend to plan and say all the things associated with disseminating their research, getting involved with hashtag #conversations and aiming to be this known social media queen who has a happy balance between their personal accounts and private accounts.
The reality is that this is probably not going to happen. You are not going to become another Zoella overnight, but it is good to try and see what comes out of trying to do at least one retweet a day or do a blog post once a week.
So, where can we start drawing this proverbial line?
I think whatever you decide with social media it is important to be:
- Consistent – try to post regularly
- Present – get involved with discussions
- Accessible – update information
- Clear – use those social media restrictions *140 Characters* and be punchy with your points
Oh and if there is older or unused social media accounts that you do not use anymore just get rid of them! Aim to be updated, to update yourself and be visible in a safe way.