Sunday, October 23, 2011

Facebook and scholarly communities: a minor rant

I am on Facebook. On Twitter. On Google Plus. I know I'm in a minority on this, but I hate having to check them for work-related things. There are two reasons for this, one personal and one ideological.

The personal one is that when people post calls for papers and invitations for professional events, those places end up being just one more X#$%& place that I have to go to in case there's an announcement. It's not enough to check your email and the official site and the CFP at U Penn and Google Reader and any random blogs that the organization might be running. Oh, no. Now you have to click on the cheery "Follow us on Twitter! Like our page on Facebook!" links. If you find Facebook not only a distraction but kind of depressing (I know, this isn't a universal reaction), you just might be the kind of person who doesn't want to be forced to go there to get professional news.

The more important reason is ideological, and it's a two-parter.
  • First, who has time to keep track of all this? When do all those posters have time to write anything of substance?
  • Second, I'm uneasy about how much this gets into "closed web" territory. Right now, most things are announced in multiple venues, so even if you are a Facebook grump and don't log in much, you will still get the message. (I leave Twitter out of this because in looking at my Twitter stream, I realize that if you're not posting 4-6 times a day at a minimum and linking to "must-read" articles in each tweet, you're not really "on" Twitter.) But sooner or later, people are going to get tired of posting everything to 6-7 venues just to be sure that everyone gets it. They're going to post to the place where the people are, and that will be Facebook and Twitter. And if you're not on there, or, more important, following/liking/friends with the right individuals on there, you won't get the message. And that ought to be giving us pause, even if we're fans of social media.

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