There is an article over at the Times Higher Education site that discusses, albeit briefly, the potential of Twitter in academia. However, as the article didn’t claim that Twitter should be interpreted as the second coming of Christ, certain elements were displeased:
Oh dear, yet another very poor article situated firmly at the ‘denial’ end of the Twitter press coverage spectrum.
As my contribution to the article helped it gain the ‘denial’ label, I thought I would elaborate on my stance:
For most academics, Twitter will provide a poor return for time invested. There are generally other tools more appropriate for specific tasks.
I don’t argue that Twitter is of no use to any academic, merely that for most academics the Twitter-noise would far outweigh the benefits of Twitter.
One comment points out: “One of our PhD students is, at this moment, meeting an interview subject in London thanks to a relationship built through Twitter.” PhD students have a lot more time than the average academic, and if they are on Twitter I am sure they will come across useful people and information (as I have myself), but such an example in no way provides the start of an argument for a use of Twitter in academia.
One of the problems of using Twitter in academia is that 140 characters gives very little room for establishing any form of argument, but it’s great for detailing what you’ve had lunch. Whilst one comment responds: “Rather than eschewing quality Twitter, does in fact encourage brevity”. Noticeably this is part of a far longer comment, totalling 805 characters.
Whilst Twitter is many things to many people, we should not get carried away into believing that it is a substitute the tools that are currently available.
-News source: If you need to be sure you don’t miss an important story then you should be using an RSS reader instead.
-News distributor: If you have to make sure a group gets a message, email is more appropriate. After all, people don’t read all the updates of all the people they are following.
-Discussion forum: If you want to engage with complex arguements you need more than 140 characters; get a blog.
If such a position makes me a ‘Twitter denier’, then I wear the badge with pride. Personally I think that it just makes me a Twitter-realist.