We’ll talk about scholarly communication all semester, and on Thursday specifically about Kirschenbaum’s argument that DH is in part “a populist term, self-identified and self-perpetuating through the algorithmic structures of contemporary social media,” but here’s a recent example of how it works in practice: the author of the popular parody Twitter account “Shit Academics Say” (@AcademicsSay) recently outed himself and described the reasons why he created the account. He even shares his graduate school syllabus on “Digital and Social Media in Higher Education.”

@AcademicsSay: The Story Behind a Social-Media Experiment: http://chronicle.com/article/AcademicsSay-The-Story/231195/

4 thoughts on “@AcademicsSay

  1. Oksana

    Answer Based on Reading Assignment
    “With growth comes growing pains” (Rafael C. Alvarado)
    It is hard to guess what the outcome of new approaches will be. On the example of electricity, Tom Scheinfeldt points out that not all the questions can be answered immediately. Of course, some results must be seen in the nearest future because the conversation is about academia here. At the same time, if the experiments are not welcomed, big breakthroughs will have a lesser chance to happen.
    Somewhere on CUNYCommonsGuide I came across an article that advocated social media’s use based on Professor Brian Croxall’s example. Even though he was not present at the MLA convention in 2009, his paper became the most read one that year. True, it was read at the convention in Croxall’s absentia, but that was not what made it a hit. The Professor published it on his personal site, and the paper was distributed through social media. The author (forgive me not mentioning his name – can’t find that article☹!) expresses an opinion/states the fact that one’s scholastic success is measured by the amount of people who read his/her papers. Croxall’s accomplishment was generated through social media with twitter as a huge contribution. This opens a way for certain conclusions.
    Genial ideas are more likely to be born and developed among like-minded people. Very often absence of time or material resources prevents scholars from attending conferences and conventions, and Twitter is their chance to stay in touch. Even if it does not serve as a platform for very serious productive discussions all the time – not everything that comes from a scholar’s pen is pure sagacity – it has the potential to do so. The ability to experiment and collaborate is what counts. Notwithstanding the negative and sometimes frustrating experiences of its users, Twitter elevates the restrictions imposed on scholars by modern society. This should be enough for us to advocate its use.

  2. Davide G. Colasanto

    In “What Is Digital Humanities and What’s It Doing in English Departments?” Kirschenbaum says “Twitter, along with blogs and other online outlets, has inscribed the digital humanities as a network topology, that is to say lines drawn by aggregates of affinities, formally and functionally manifest in who follows whom, who friends whom, who tweets whom, and who links to what.”

    I really appreciate this idea of a network of academics “talking” in a “public space”, where everybody can be heard and, at the same time, everyone is free to choose to listen or not. DH’s openness to collaborative work and free sharing of information could be a great attempt in breaking the Academy’s Ivory Tower while keeping the standards of academic research.

    It would be interesting to look at how many researchers use twitter and which is the percentage of DHers among them. In this way it would be possible to understand if, in the realm of academia, twitter is a huge “whatsapp group” of DHers or a digital tool also often used by researchers from other academic disciplines (hard sciences, medicine, law etc.)

  3. Lisa Hirschfield

    “I’m not procrastinating. I’m actively engaging in the disruption of traditional academic narratives via social media.”

    The “disruption of traditional academic narratives” is a pretty traditional practice, if you ask me – although no one did. I think the main difference is that now it is less the content than the method of constructing and communicating those narratives that is shaking things up. I know he is speaking more about the processes involved in academic life – the overall “narrative” of a professional career and navigating the structure of academic institutions – but I think it’s reasonable to expect that at some point this will trickle down into other areas of academic discourse, including those of the material being written about and taught, and that is an utterly routine occurrence.

    141 characters aside, will the subversive aspect of employing these new forms and channels of academic discourse eventually subsume the content of those narratives? Will scholarly voices joining millions in the public, extra-academic Tweet-o-sphere be heard beyond their self-selecting audience, change thinking, and regain of the cultural traction they’ve lost within and outside higher ed? Will the focus on novelty stifle, or bring something different to, new ideas that disrupt traditional discourse and perspectives and on subject areas, texts, ways of teaching?

    To me, this (quite recent) tweet conveys his ongoing ambivalence about this project – the nagging feeling that what he’s doing is still academically meaningless – even as he humorously justifies it as a much-needed diversion from academically “meaningful” work that doesn’t really excite him.

    As something of a middle-aged skeptic, I’d be interested to learn more about his scholarship, because I wonder whether what he’s doing here will ultimately reinforce and strengthen some academic paradigms – e.g., motivate him and fellow academics to rediscover meaning in traditional approaches to work – or actually transform the substance and methodology of that work. And if that does change, will it be a good thing for students?

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