Academic Twitter: The intersection of orality & literacy in scholarship?

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Digital identities, collapsed publics, and academic Twitter, through the lens of David Bowie (with a little Walter Ong thrown in).

A talk for the LSE NetworkED series, January 2016.

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Academic Twitter: The intersection of orality & literacy in scholarship?

  1. 1. Academic Twitter: The Intersection of Orality & Literacy in Scholarship? Bonnie Stewart University of Prince Edward Island @bonstewart LSE NetworkED January 20th, 2016
  2. 2. me ------------> (photo credit: Kate Inglis)
  3. 3. scholarship what people had for lunch “Academic Twitter”
  4. 4. Academic Twitter = a complex, messy story of identity & publics
  5. 5. Told with thanks to David Bowie, 1947 – 2016
  6. 6. …and Walter Ong, 1912 – 2003.
  7. 7. 1. Digital Identity, the Bowie model SO I TURNED MYSELF TO FACE ME
  8. 8. Who are we when we’re online?
  9. 9. In institutional structures, an individual has a role. In a networked culture, an individual has an identity, which it is his/her job to differentiate.
  10. 10. Caveat: you do NOT need to use Twitter to have a viable academic career. h#ps://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:UK_traffic_sign_562.svg
  11. 11. Serial Selves h#p://www.flickr.com/photos/thelotuscarroll/6842167375/
  12. 12. The personal/professional divide is blurring
  13. 13. Crowdsourcing selves
  14. 14. fragmented public identities hypervisibility celebrity WE CAN BE HEROES?
  15. 15. …even among academics “My boss is scared of my social media presence because it’s a form of soft power; they’re scared to lose me because it would be so visible.” - @thesiswhisperer, 2014
  16. 16. FASHION: Memes & Citation
  17. 17. Quantified Selves
  18. 18. Magpie selves “Never wear a new pair of shoes in front of him.” - Mick Jagger on David Bowie
  19. 19. & behind-the-scenes glimpses
  20. 20. Performative digital identities unsettle our illusions of a unified Self
  21. 21. SO WE BITCHED ABOUT HIS FANS AND SHOULD WE CRUSH HIS SWEET HANDS?
  22. 22. Lupton, 2014 2. Digital publics, the Academic Twitter model
  23. 23. http://www.flickr.com/photos/8113246@N02/7932198032 Academia & social media are both reputational economies
  24. 24. Those within the academy become very skilled at judging the stuff of reputations. Where has the person’s work been published, what claims of priority in discovery have they established, how often have they been cited, how and where reviewed, what prizes won, what institutional ties earned, what organizations led? Willinsky, 2010
  25. 25. AND THE PAPERS WANT TO KNOW WHOSE SHIRT YOU WEAR h#ps://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Euskal_Museoa_branding_irons.jpg
  26. 26. capacity to contribute to “The Conversation” scale of visibility common interests & disciplines shared ties Digital signals = less codified
  27. 27. Again, identity vs. role “I really wanted, more than anything else, to contribute in some way to the culture that I was living in.” Bowie, 2002
  28. 28. The gates are open h#ps://www.flickr.com/photos/vince2012/14557320666/
  29. 29. Networked publics: many-to-many signals h#p://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/it/thumb/d/d8/Do_Not_Adjust_Your_Set.jpg/280px- Do_Not_Adjust_Your_Set.jpg
  30. 30. h#ps://www.flickr.com/photos/ooohoooh/1350774613/ THAT WERE NO DJ THAT WAS HAZY COSMIC JIVE…
  31. 31. …Like a party line with multiple private/public options h#ps://www.flickr.com/photos/94342662@N00/3869483214/
  32. 32. UNDER PRESSURE: Context Collapse (Wesch, 2009; boyd, 2011) h#ps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dress_code
  33. 33. When your non-institutional ideas land amidst institutional audiences
  34. 34. Institutions do not always approve.
  35. 35. The infinite selves of the blank status update are all: •  Persistent •  Replicable •  Scalable •  Shareable
  36. 36. “Online Shaming?”
  37. 37. WAIT
  38. 38. …where Ong comes in.
  39. 39. Oral Tradition •  Participatory •  Situational •  Social •  Formulaic •  Agonistic •  Rhetorical h#ps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Campfire#/media/File:Campfire_Pinecone.png
  40. 40. Literate Tradition •  Interiorized •  Abstracted •  Innovative •  Precise •  Analytic •  Indexical h#ps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Le#erpress_prin[ng#/media/File:The_Caxton_Celebra[on_- _William_Caxton_showing_specimens_of_his_prin[ng_to_King_Edward_IV_and_his_Queen.jpg
  41. 41. Ong’s secondary orality + secondary literacy “The network message from one person to another / others is very rapid and can in effect be in the present…textualized verbal exchange registers psychologically as having the temporal immediacy of oral exchange.” Ong, 1996
  42. 42. Speech-based expectations Call Out Culture = Collapsed Publics Print-based interpretations
  43. 43. “Tactical Twitter” is not one single phenomenon h#ps://www.flickr.com/photos/seandavis/16528463225/
  44. 44. PUTTING OUT FIRE…WITH GASOLINE Hashtags + Public voice + Positional identities = Fraught public sphere
  45. 45. h#p://www.theatlan[c.com/technology/archive/2015/11/ conversa[on-smoosh-twi#er-decay/412867/
  46. 46. “Being stripped of your personhood to stand in the gap for a group of people against your will is rage-inducing…you were busy living and laughing and being a wholly fallible human being. It is horrible to lose a job for that. It is a privilege to have never before lost a job for that.” McMillan-Cottom, 2014
  47. 47. So. Stay off the internet, & live happily ever after, academics? J
  48. 48. Call out culture crosses online/offline boundaries
  49. 49. NOT a Bowie strategy: Bowie, 2000: “The potential of what the internet is going to do society – both good and bad – is unimaginable. I think we’re actually on the cusp of something exhilarating and terrifying.” Interviewer: “It’s just a tool isn’t it?” Bowie: “No it’s not - it’s an alien life form. Is there Life on Mars? Yes, it’s just landed here.”
  50. 50. What do networked identities + collapsed publics MEAN for academia?
  51. 51. BEWARE THE SAVAGE JAW OF 1984 NEVER LOOK BACK, WALK TALL, ACT FINE h#ps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Risk#/media/File:AT_YOUR_OWN_RISK.svg h#ps://www.flickr.com/photos/opensourceway/5009661706
  52. 52. Academic Twitter allows participation outside hierarchy Sometimes…I’ll choose someone with twenty followers, because I come across something they’ve managed to say in 140 characters, and I think “oh, look at you, crafting on a grain of rice.” - @KateMfD h#ps://www.flickr.com/photos/visualpanic/843670538
  53. 53. Networked identities = new forms of vulnerability commodification + institutional indictments of deviance + re-inscription of societal biases
  54. 54. In a system that relies on free labour within an increasingly precarious profession
  55. 55. Who is standing in the gap?
  56. 56. Networked practices = scholarship •  Scholarship of discovery •  Scholarship of integration •  Scholarship of application •  Scholarship of teaching ! (Boyer, 1990)
  57. 57. But a scholarship of abundance h#ps://www.flickr.com/photos/92998734@N03/8466586880/
  58. 58. …and care
  59. 59. Networks are becoming institutionalized
  60. 60. ASHES TO ASHES
  61. 61. We are not Bowie.
  62. 62. GIVE ME YOUR HANDS VISION: Digital Literacies for scholars & students •  Digital Strategy for systems •  OER & Open Access Literacies for scholars, students & systems •  Professional Learning/staff development for portfolio careers h#p://dynamiceagle.deviantart.com/art/Hand-Pa#erns-487950483
  63. 63. …and don’t panic
  64. 64. ALL THE NOBODY PEOPLE AND ALL THE SOMEBODY PEOPLE NEVER THOUGHT I’D NEED SO MANY PEOPLE…
  65. 65. THANK YOU. @bonstewart bstewart@upei.ca h#ps://www.flickr.com/photos/52489759@N00/4473791

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