Suddenly Thing 7 is upon us and I haven’t even worked my way through Thing 5 yet. This is probably because of the usual build up of uncompleted tasks mid-term (I am chairing an exam board this week, was ill last week, and am limping through to the thing we are not allowed to call a ‘reading week’ next week). But I shall at least to make the beginnings of an effort to catch up.
So, Twitter. Not sure about it, to be honest. A quick check of my profile informs me that I have been a member since September 2012, have 198 followers, and over the past four years have sent a grand total of 96 tweets. I reckon the follower count stays quite high, relatively, because I don’t tweet often enough for people to get annoyed and unfollow me. And that comment really reflects my own reaction to Twitter when I joined it back in 2012. I followed a few people (public figures, etc) who were tweeting far too often, and I found what they had to say immensely boring and so left the platform alone. Twitter also came into my life around the time I was finding that I had far too many things to do and not enough time to do them in. Getting hooked on a whole new social media platform seemed as if it might not be a great use of my scarcest resource: thinking time. So, despite my greatest moment of professional glory coming when Mary Beard tweeted approvingly about something I said on the radio (honestly, I should have just retired or died there and then), I haven’t reconciled myself to its use except when I occasionally remember to tweet about an event I’m going to or a talk I am giving.
I can see some benefits, though. As I think I mentioned in an earlier post, I’ve been involved this year with the Women’s Classical Committee UK, and many of its members are far more proficient at Twitter than I am. Witnessing their live-tweeting and storifying of our workshops and other events, and just talking to them about how Twitter can help build scholarly networks and intellectual communities, has opened my eyes to its value. I’m a historian of scholarship, and from the invention of printing onwards scholars have always been dependent on networks for the exchange of information and debate at a distance. Despite the 140-character limit Twitter does seem to lend itself well to that. So maybe it’s worth a second look.