Kate Holterhoff, a Marion L. Brittain Postdoctoral Fellow at the Georgia Institute of Technology, recently wrote a blog about social engagement and academia that was published online by The Chronicle of Higher Education.
That many academics rely on social media goes without saying. Not only is social media integral to the research, pedagogy, and public identities of academics, online communication permits us to share thoughts, accomplishments, notifications (book publications, conference CFPs, syllabus questions) with colleagues across the globe. Yet, I am dissatisfied with my social media. Twitter can often be overwhelming, and in my experience it fails to foster engaged discussion. In fact, Theresa MacPhail complains of "Twitter's brand of shallow scholarship" in her recent piece "Why I Quit Twitter." Both personally and professionally I get the most out of Facebook. However, like others at ProfHacker, the recent revelations concerning Cambridge Analytica have spurred me to reconsider my relationship to this app.
Is there another option for social engagement that aligns with the unique needs, interests, and skill sets of academics? Of course, numerous apps targeted to academic audiences have sprung up. Academia, LinkedIn, HASTAC, and Humanities Commons among others, all lobby to provide a forum for academics to socialize online. However, in my experience these niche sites all fall short of my need to engage meaningfully with peers, while establishing myself as a public intellectual.