Exploring Twitter has raised questions for me about the public/private divide, the need to be direct using plain language, and simply: what to Tweet?
My view of Twitter being simply for self-promotion of celebrities and politicians is fast changing. It is a news service, a way of highlighting what else is out on the net that is worth looking at. The thing I am starting to appreciate is that by building my own personal network, I can find out the news I am interested in and the material I highlight might actually reach an interested audience. Twitter can act as triage, a filtering mechanism, to search out things to be investigated further.
Which means Tweets have to be brief. Tricky for some of us ‘wordy’ people. One thing I’ve noticed with the Tweets that my blog automatically generates, is that people see the title and the first line or two. That is all I have to tempt people to read further. So a lot more thought is now going into that title and first line in my blog posts.
Twitter, by its very nature, is “public”. Trying to be anonymous, as an academic, seems counter-productive. To build a reputation, people have to know who you are. A lot of the advice on how to use social media for academic purposes promote that message. Personally I like the idea of using different platforms for academic and personal purposes – not that I would put up personal information that I think would embarrass me, but simply because I don’t think other educationists really want to know what I said to my Aunty last week.
Of course one can try to be private, but there is always a chance (and a good one) that word will get out. These boys in Dunedin (http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/10590883/Another-explicit-Facebook-page-shut-down) thought they could have a closed Facebook page, but then the girls got wind of it and… Now the most eligible bachelor in Dunedin is the guy who didn’t sign up to the page! Yet another example is Karen Price, David Cunliffe’s wife (http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/10563755/David-Cunliffes-wife-in-Twitter-potshots) who seemed to think that an anonymous Twitter account would remain anonymous. I think the advice given in this prezi (http://prezi.com/hl392i93n8um/you-already-have-a-brand-here-are-5-ways-to-influence-it/) is sound:
“If in doubt: blog, tweet, update and post like you are assuming your boss is reading every word, watching every video, and seeing every picture.”
My learning for the week: online presence is not something to be avoided, rather it is something to be managed as consciously as possible.