Use of Twitter at Scholarly Conferences

The topic isn’t really new, but there is a very interesting thread on the Chronicle of Higher Education website about the use of Twitter at scholarly conferences. Is it too difficult to tweet and concentrate on what is being said simultaneously? Is tweeting in the middle of someone’s presentation rude? Does the 140 character limit of tweets trivialize scholarly communication? Are most tweets made during conference presentations just snarky remarks? These and other negatives are discussed.
But the scholars who find this tool to be very useful are apparently in the majority, starting with the original blogger, a Professor of English who had just returned from the Modern Language Association’s annual conference in Seattle. Among the comments are:
“The overwhelming majority of tweets about sessions are sharp summaries of the presentations and discussions. The rapid exchange of ideas on Twitter–along with links to articles, blogs, Web sites, etc. — give the convention a rich dimension for those present and those participating at a distance.”
“When I realized that a speaker had made a point I did not understand, instead of being frustrated, I asked Twitter what the speaker meant, got an answer, and was, again, super grateful.”
“Twitter convos are often more insightful and interesting than comment streams because people have to be concise.”
“I ended up being introduced to like-minded individuals I would have never met on my own. In fact, the collaborative, cross-discipline work we have been doing since that time could not have been possible without Twitter.”
“I can confidently say that my use of Twitter this MLA has and will result in many more professional contacts and collaborations than any MLA I’ve attended previously.”
(From a graduate student): “Twitter was a great way to feel engaged and connected in new conference territory that was a bit overwhelming at first.”
(Another graduate student): “I have been able to digitally “meet” people and projects I never would have otherwise, and have gained a better sense of what I am getting myself into and what opportunities might be available to me; thanks to this, I feel much more engaged in the subject areas that interest me.”
“Tweeting by community-minded participants in the 2012 MLA and AHA [American Historical Association] meetings enabled me to gain a sense of the debates and discussions as well as to gain access to links that led me to resources and projects of great value to me.”
(From a presenter): “I find it very helpful to see the tweets posted as a result of a paper I have given, myself. … I’ve only ever had constructive, thoughtful feedback or further questions, which I very much welcome.”

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