Comments on: Why Joe Nocera isn’t on Twitter History and sexual politics, 1492 to the present Sun, 21 Sep 2014 00:30:39 +0000 hourly 1 By: Shelley Fri, 26 Jul 2013 14:41:26 +0000 Anything good–love, learning, cooking–takes extended, invested, uninterrupted attention. Writers know this; and in their hearts, everyone else knows it, too.

By: Rachel Herrmann Fri, 19 Jul 2013 12:36:19 +0000 Hi Historiann,

Just wanted to chime in and say that this young early Americanist really was thrilled when Twitter (via Paul Harvey) led to the BBC recording studio. It CAN be a snarky place–but more often than not I’m staggered by the generosity of senior and junior scholars alike.

By: Joseph M. Adelman Fri, 19 Jul 2013 01:22:15 +0000 Jonathan, thanks so much for your kind words. I’m not ready to go into the details publicly just yet, but I can say that book on the post office exists because of Twitter and the connections I’ve made there.

Paul, I’m in about the same place as you are in terms of conference live-tweeting. That is, I enjoy it when I can’t be there (I can’t afford to be in St. Louis for SHEAR, but I’m following #SHEAR13 closely to see what people are talking about), but I’ve found it distracting when I was in the room, either participating in the session or doing the live-tweeting. There’s only so much focus to go around.

Part of the AHA roundtable that Historiann and Tenured Radical participated in a few months back, if I recall, focused on Twitter etiquette at conferences, and one of the themes seemed to be “consent of the tweeted.” (It’s also possible I conflated the roundtable with a separate TR post.) That seems reasonable to me, but anything approaching clarity on the level of the conference organizers is appreciated.

Having said that, there was also some discussion in the comments about that very issue when I wrote about Twitter for the Junto in April. I also elaborate there more on my full opinions about Twitter in academia.

Last, thanks Historiann for hosting the discussion and keeping the door open a crack for a future on Twitter. As Jonathan said, I think you’d find our little historian corner very welcoming.

By: Paul Harvey Thu, 18 Jul 2013 23:54:51 +0000 Historiann:

Don’t let @jhrees reminding the world that I am on Twitter scare you away from it permanently! Of course, the main reason to stay off is for the very reasons you mention directly above, i.e., need to finish the book, etc. And I find usually about mid-semester that complete 2 or 3 week Twitter vacations are necessary if those papers are going to get graded, & etc. But I totally agree with everything Jonathan has said above. Jonathan gives one example of a professional connection; I have many of those now, including a young early American historian I got to know there who I was able to get onto the BBC when said BBC wanted to interview me about Jamestown cannibalism (why, I don’t know) – so I said “I know nothing but here’s the person to talk to.” And I think she was pretty thrilled to do so.

Of course, the Historiann blog has such a following on its own that you don’t need Twitter, you’re doing just fine here at your own home, thank you very much. On the other hand, look at what Twitter has done to make @jhrees known as the destroyer of Moocs worlds.

I’m curious about what others think about tweeting at conference sessions. On the one hand, it’s really fun to follow those if you’re not at conference but want to follow what is going on (as I did when people tweeted the Religion and American Culture conference last month, #raac2013. On the other hand, it would kind of creep me out as a presenter, I think — not that anyone has ever tweeted any talk I’ve given.

By: Historiann Thu, 18 Jul 2013 20:25:40 +0000 You can bring up Twitter again–I don’t mind. But, only ONE of us has another book out and his final promotion. There’s only so many hours of the day, right? And I’m already feeling like the world’s Most Superannuated Associate Professor Ever. . .

Maybe I’ll start giving my Twitter followers something to follow once I’ve got my current book done and out the door. Until then, I should probably avoid it.

Tenured Radical had a post recently about Twitter, and she commented that if you’re on Twitter and something “blows up” (i.e. you become the object of controversy/ire), you really have to respond quickly and watch the feed and let everything else in your life drop. That, unfortunately, is not something I can do at this point, for all kinds of professional (see above) and personal reasons, too.

By: Jonathan Rees Thu, 18 Jul 2013 16:36:05 +0000 Historiann,

You know you’re my hero, but you’re wrong about Twitter. Here’s why:

1. I use to say the same things about attention deficit disorder. But what Twitter is most useful though is for links. As Meghan suggests, you will see things that you would never see otherwise because of Twitter, which actually makes it much more useful in some ways than the dearly-departed Google Reader.

2. Yes, there are awful people on Twitter, but (as Joseph suggests) what everybody who’s not on Twitter seems to miss about Twitter is that you can block or simply not follow people who tweet pictures of their breakfast or say awful things. What you get then is a subset of Twitter commonly known as “Academic Twitter.” That subset is multi-disciplinary, international and very unlikely to ever tweet their breakfast. If they ever do, just unfollow them. They won’t be offended. They’ll probably never even know.

3. If you’re worried about information overload, then either a) Don’t follow all that many people or b) Don’t read your whole timeline. If you follow good people the stuff you want to read will eventually appear anyways.

4. I can’t tell you the number of really interesting scholars I “know” from Twitter, who I probably would never know otherwise because the number is so high. Take Joseph Adelman, for example. If I remember right, he teaches at Framingham State, he studies the history of the Post Office and (although I needed no convincing) his post office tweets should be more than enough to convince anybody that whatever book comes out of his research is going to be awesome. Unlike Facebook, which tends to reinforce connections between people you already know, Twitter helps you “meet” others who you wouldn’t know otherwise.

5. Twitter is a meritocracy. Grad students can easily destroy full professors in terms of number of followers if they work hard at being interesting. I just LOVE that about Twitter. Yes, Niall Ferguson has a zillion followers because he’s on TV (I guess you could say the same thing about the Pope), but you really can’t say that about people like @zunguzungu or @tressiemc. Bill Cronon has a huge slew of Twitter followers not just because he’s Bill Cronon, but because his tweets are extremely interesting and useful. I can tell you for certain that I never would have found the blog Edible Geography if it weren’t for him, but I digress…

6. I think those 30+ people follow you now do so because they think you’d be really good at Twitter. I happen to agree with them. Personally, I gave up Twitter arguments for Lent. You could go in with the intentions of just ignoring the trolls from the outset. However, I don’t think you’d meet very many. What I know would happen is that you’d find a community of people who’d be really interested in what you have to say and who you’d likely find really interesting yourself. Paul Harvey’s on Twitter. Need I say more?

OK, I took my best shot. I promise to never bring up Twitter in your presence (or your online presence) again.

By: Nick Thu, 18 Jul 2013 13:52:52 +0000 “Why should I learn to read and write in some bizarre semaphoric bastardized illiterate form of English language just so that a bunch of assholes can whip out hundreds of least-common-denominator atomized communications as fast as possible like it’s some kind of massive throbbing cocke to smack other people in the face with? Get your fucken twitdicke out of my face: I’m not interested.”

Hilarious, and I agree 100%. I rage about Twitter all the time.

Thank you, PhysioProffe, for making my day with that gem.

By: Comradde PhysioProffe Thu, 18 Jul 2013 11:18:08 +0000 Sorry. Just read my quote more closely and realized it needs context: it was written as part of a discussion of real-time twittering during scholarly conference sessions.

By: Comradde PhysioProffe Thu, 18 Jul 2013 11:15:09 +0000 I have been ranting about twittering for years:

Here’s a sample of my thoughts:

I absolutely 100% refuse to write or read on twitter, and for reasons that are partially captured by Roxie’s blog post.

First, I believe that it–like Facebook–is deeply destructive of the mental operation of contemplation. The entire intrinsic structure of the medium is 100% oriented towards MORE, FASTER, BRIEFER, SUPERFICIALER communication. It is about collecting: friends, links, retweets, followers, hashtags, etc, and not about describing, explaining, or contemplating. It is about avoiding deep thought, not embracing it.

Second, it is about DOMINATING discourse, not diversifying it. Yeah, it might be a different set of people who are using it to dominate than who are using traditional modes of scholarly communication, but ten people at this meeting posted 300 fucken tweets each!?!? Jeezus fucke. It is about defining insiders and outsiders. (And no way were those poor compulsive twittering assholes even able to listen to the sessions they were at or genuinely participate in them: see my first concern above.)

Third, it is grossly destructive of the practice of constructing decent complete grammatical sentences in the English language (and, I’m sure, other languages that poor dumb twittering fuckes in other countries use). Why should I learn to read and write in some bizarre semaphoric bastardized illiterate form of English language just so that a bunch of assholes can whip out hundreds of least-common-denominator atomized communications as fast as possible like it’s some kind of massive throbbing cocke to smack other people in the face with? Get your fucken twitdicke out of my face: I’m not interested.

Fourth, it enables a form of herd behavior with masses of people rushing around like lunatics flogging their fucken hashtags and leaping off rhetorical cliffs that I find extremely distasteful. What’s the fucken hurry? Do I really need access to anyone’s thoughts but my own in real time?

Fifth, at the end of the day, it’s corporate shill shitte. Some massive corporation is leveraging off content that users provide them for free in order to make fucketonnes of money. No thanks

By: Perpetua Thu, 18 Jul 2013 10:44:12 +0000 I agree with @Joseph and @Meghan as well. Bigger Twitter accounts are comparable to the comment feeds on huge blogs that are not moderated. I get a little irritated at the Get Off My Lawn aspect of critiques like Nocera’s. I love long, thoughtful, complex writing, but there is something churlish (imo) in the complete dismissal of the short form. Being bounded by character length puts constraints on the writer that can lead to creativity. While I understand people’s complaints about Twitter feeding into national ADD and also our obsessive need for over-exposure (let’s Tweet every tiny detail of my day!), there is also a place for the pithy, the trivial, and superficial in people’s lives. Those things can have art to them too. I’m overanalyzing this, I know, but it strikes me right as the Big Male Authors versus Female Authors in the 19th and early 20th century – how the male authors were always arguing that novels had to be about big social issues and those lady novelists were condemned for their domesticity. Isn’t there a place for an ordinary day, and an ordinary life?

(Of course the punchline to my post is that I’m not on twitter!)