Briefly Noted for April 28, 2010

On "Uninvited Guests" — As I tweeted when it was first posted, Bethany Nowviskie’s “uninvited guests: regarding twitter at invitation-only academic events” is “*the* must-read Twitter-at-conferences post.” But it’s more than that, of course. It’s also a nuanced unpacking of the ways in which new, technologically-driven modes of scholarly discourse are colliding with older, analog modes—in particular how Twitter disrupts closed academic gatherings and how closed academic gatherings disrupt the ethical assumptions and practical expectations of the Twitterverse, which by default takes all discussions to be open, public, and distributed. Unusually, however, Bethany doesn’t take a strong side in these disputes, treating seriously the concerns of both traditionalists (who cherish the intimacy, privacy, safety, and efficiencies of closed meetings) and the Twitterati (who often view closed meetings as elitist, counter-productive, and just plain suspicious). This is refreshing. What bothers me most in most discussions of these issues is the righteous indignation of both defenders of private meetings/opponents of Twitter and defenders of Twitter/opponents of private meetings. Issues of public v. private and discussions of who’s in and who’s out are always very complicated, and indeed are made more complicated by new media, and anyone who claims to know the “right” answer is just full of it. So how’s that for righteous indignation?

One Reply to “Briefly Noted for April 28, 2010”

  1. Very good points about the ways in which Twitter challenges the exclusivity of academic gatherings. The “real-time” nature of the technology makes it very simple to broaden participation and distribute the conversation. Of course, that conversation suddenly becomes public. I wonder if Twitter might introduce closed/private group conversations with moderators. This would retain the exclusive nature of the academic gathering while broadening participation in a controlled manner. I suspect, however, that a closed or exclusive approach to the use of Twitter for conferences would be counter-intuitive and eliminate the main advantage of Twitter, its public nature.

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