Academics Doing it Differently: Wooing, Hooking up and Spinning Stories
Keywords:Twitter, academic, networking, digital scholar, higher education
Wooing, hooking up and spinning stories are not the usual behaviours to describe academics and the ways they make connections with other scholars. These behaviours are now how some academics build relations for research, support and professional development as a part of the way they work in and across academia with social media use. How academics reveal facets of their identity online and use social media speak to ideas about identity and agency in the contemporary university. Academics are using social media in the university and this has risks to both the academy and the academic. Academics are taking on these risks in different ways, publically representing their academic selves and their research, building networks of connections with other scholars and using Twitter to be (non) strategic to benefit their research interests and inquiries. In this paper, we focus on how academics use Twitter to make connections and relations with others. The paper draws on preliminary findings from a study of academics using Twitter that used a modified snowball recruitment method to garner participants. Informal interviews were used to discuss how the academics used Twitter, what images they used to represent and describe themselves. How their academic identity was represented online as branding, strategic or not, and their various relations was a starting point in this analysis. We examine the themes of academics branding and being (non) strategic by the stories they told of relationship building on Twitter. That is wooing, or having conversations on specific topics to make a connection and demonstrate relevance, hooking up, or networking, and spinning stories, or rather enacting professional dialogues. We argue that these behaviours demonstrate how some academics are an example of a new type of 21st century academic and conclude by suggesting that in doing so they are examples of new ways of being and becoming an academic context.
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