But this is where I grew up in a very beautiful part of the world. This is a mile up the road from my mum’s house – a lovely view of the Mourne mountains. There is a strong sense of community here and when I return I am not known just by my achievements but by my relationships.
The sheep! Yes, they are hardy and we could perhaps learn something about ‘thriving in a colder climate from them’. You might recognise this photo as I have had it as my twitter backdrop for a few years. More recently I added the ‘determined not to be one of the sheep’ line to my twitter bio. What did/do I mean by that? I suppose it is a reaction against the ‘herd mentality’ that we sometimes seem to see online. I wanted to assert that I pride myself on being critical, sceptical and reflexive.
To share my learning journeyTo inspire others who really had something interesting to say?could blogs form links between different parts of my own university
My very first tweet was made in May 2008. I was invited to join Twitter by a friend who works in IT. It just happens that at the time I was still at work thinking about a teaching session so my first tweet has quite a strong medical education flavour. Like many people I wasn't sure what to actually make of Twitter after this and I left it for several months until I went to two medical education conferences and decided that social media could serve a purpose for me.
Searched for ‘medical education’Found some of people I had come across already and their blogs etcCouldn’t see a value of twitter ‘beyond as a database’I was looking for the network in a place… I hadn’t realised that I make the networkBut I started learning-
The fifth reason is to share things that are important and meaningful to you. To do this best you need a space where you can write more than 140 characters and I would recommend that to get the most out of Twitter you also start a blog. But don't worry if you want to just stick to Twitter for now. In Twitter you can easily share links to content that is online; be that a research paper, or a blog post about your research or someone else's research or just a story that you think needs to be told. But remember you have no editor here. You have to be your own self-censor, but it doesn't matter if you make the odd mistake. Don’t let this fear stop you saying anything at all. The community is forgiving.
But the barriers to sharing this kind of local practical information are not only technical, they are more likely to be social. After all email has been around for years. If we were truly happy sharing about our practice then we would have been doing this already. Some of the reasons that we don’t share our practice are concerns about who we are talking to- who is in control? Who has power? What will be the implications of sharing for how we see ourselves and how others see us?
I think that to others are digital professional identity is not just the traces and ephemera that we leave behind. It is the processes and interactions and way that we ‘be’ in these spaces. Digital identity is relational- in many senses.
We’re balancing the risks of sharing and learning through openness against the safety and privacy (to maintain more fixed identities) of a closed environment.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/stevegarfield/6426905021/And lastly, you can inspire others. Do you know this amazingly busy, and productive man? It's AtulGawande- surgeon, author and researcher. The eloquent AtulGawande can teach you about how to use Twitter.
Last year, I spotted this tweet one Sunday afternoon. Two minutes later I had made my reply to him.
. I invited him to participate in a discussion of his paper in the Twitter Journal Club, a twice monthly discussion of a paper on Twitter, started by a medical student, Fi Douglas, and Natalie Silvey, a junior doctor. This was too good an opportunity to miss. What do you think happened?
Well- the discussion started and there was no sign of AtulGawande. People were making some of the usual complaints about the original surgical checklist paper. It didn't apply to the developed world etc etc. But then he joined in. He started commenting on the discussion. And if you have any doubt about how 140 characters can be used to communicate anything useful watch and learn from this master. So what was the reaction? People were thrilled and informed. AtulGawande was on vacation with his family but he was able to share his expertise with students and others who asked him questions about his work. He was inspiring. Do you want to inspire others?
Learning with social mediaAnne Marie Cunningham@amcunningham