Social Media

Throughout my day, starting fairly early, I check in with my various social media platforms. For me, this means blogs, Twitter, and Facebook. I use social media to keep abreast of the field; to learn about resources; to read, share and engage ideas; to establish and maintain personal and professional connections; to exist within communities; and to collaborate with others.

I consider Jeff Rice’s Network Academics as a manefsto about why we, as academics, should be users of social media. Rice argues:

I want to draw attention to one aspect of new media (and thus, the Web): the network. Networks foreground the role connectivity plays in content management, information organization, and information production in explicit and implicit ways. What I call the network are spaces – literal or figurative – of connectivity and disconnectivity. They are ideological as well as technological spaces generated by various forms of new media that allow information, people, places, and other items to establish a variety of relationships which previous spaces or ideologies of space (print being the dominant model) did not allow.

These are spaces as databases – collections of information we must, as Lyotard once wrote, learn how to navigate. What I call the network is what Bruno Latour calls “the social” – a series of relationships developed among people, texts, and things. The social, or the network, always circulates and, through circulation, always moves meaning among those factors (people, texts, places, ideas, things) that generate meaning. The network, therefore, is not a site of observation, but a continuing rhetorical process. Our challenge is to understand how to describe and produce intellectual work without always resorting to studying some application, phenomenon, event purely in order to understand it. In other words, working with networks would also mean becoming networks.

A sampling of what I’ve read this morning: Alex Reid’s response to Marc Bousquet’s Chronicle piece on“The Moral Panic in Literary Studies,” an announcement of a white paper on “From Bitstreams to Heritage: Putting Digital Forensics into Practice in Collecting Institutions” (pdf), a cicerone’s answer as to whether draft or bottled beer is better, and Samantha Blackman on the value  of synchronous online communities.  (Sam’s Not Your Mama’s Gammer post hits close to home for me as the Netoric Project’s Tuesday Cafe was also my most important introduction into computers and writing.)