Really looking forward to the first of the Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Alcohol and Young People (IPAP) seminars at Cardiff University on Tuesday. Professor Glyn Lewis from Bristol University will be presenting on 'Alcohol Use in Adolescence - Harms and Advice'. There are just a couple of spaces left -register here!
We'll be tweeting key highlights using the hashtag #alcoholyp, and encouraging attendees and others to include #alcohol-yp in their tweets related to the seminar, so everyone can easily view them, and later they can be storified.
Still finding our way with this, but there's a Twitter search widget on the IPAP page that will display all tweets with the seminar hashtag. We plan to use this in three main ways - firstly to display tweets at the seminar itself (during questions), to hopefully add a new way for people to share ideas and consider others' thoughts. Secondly, to allow people who can't make it to the seminar to follow key points, questions, and discussions. And thirdly to facilitate networking and future collaboration between people with an interest in the key issues we'll be discussing.
Will let you know here how we get on!
Thanls for all the positive feedback on my recent blog post on Twitter, and how I've been using it in my research. I've been amazed at how many people have read it, and really pleased that it struck a chord with others who are integrating social media into what they do.
When I first set up my web site and blog, I thought I'd be only writing about public health issues such as parenting, family functioning, and alcohol misuse. But engaging with social media seems to be something lots of us are trying to grapple with, and connects people across many different sectors, disciplines and countries.
Over the weekend I read a really good blog on academic conferences and Twitter by Yvonne Perkins. Worth a read, and I'll add some of my own thoughts on the topic on this blog later in the week.
Now back to the paper writing ...
Three months ago I created my Twitter account@DrJeremySegrott, and then wondered how I could use it in my research. Now seems a good time to reflect on what I've learnt, and what it's done for me.
In October the DECIPHer research centre held a symposium, and I tweeted that I was attending this. A colleague who was also attending read the tweet and suggested that I could tweet 'live' on some of the papers. I tried this, and during the day a number of people starting following and re-tweeting me, potentially communicating key messages far beyond Cardiff. It was then that the potential power of Twitter began to dawn on me.
One of those tweeter was @amcunningham, who is a prolific tweeter. She made some very helpful suggestions to me, including using a dedicated # (hashtag) for our next conference, and some of the different ways I could use Twitter.
Perhaps the most important thing I learnt was that as with other spheres of life, simply churning out lots of and lots of information isn't likely to be effective - and that you need to think about how you're going to use Twitter and what you want to achieve. It could be just to receive updates from people or organisations in which you have some interest. You might want to use it to promote your work and what you're doing. Or you may want to 'curate' information by creating Twitter lists. And then there are commentators - people who set the agenda.
Over time I've found a way of using Twitter which I'm comfortable with, and meets my needs. I use it to promote my work including my publications, keep up to date with news, research and debates in my field, and to ffind out who else is doing research on parenting, families and alcohol issues.
Three months on I've gained 164 followers. A single tweet which I send on my work can reach many hundreds or even thousands of people (if-re-tweeted). And this kind of impact is cost free and takes literally a minute or two to achieve. Twitter has been immensely helpful in keeping me up to date with new reports that are published, interesting debates among academics and health professionals, and a way of developing links with fellow researchers. A single tweet I sent last week also generated two requests to do interviews with the BBC on topics relating to parenting and alcohol. Now, instead of searching the internet on topics, I often find the information comes to me in the tweets I receive from other people.
Twitter isn't going to be for everyone. But it lends itself to a variety of uses, styles of communication and intensity of engagement. It has a lot of potential for academic research, but that potential isn't always being realised.
Twitter is never going to replace other media and outputs such as websites, journal articles or reports. It complements these more traditional outputs by providing signposts to web pages and reports/journal articles, and allowing you to create a personalised stream of information - as much or as little as you want. For instance, you can follow particular journalists or subject/area specific BBC news feeds.
Twitter teaches you to think laterally, and it works both as an entity in its own right, but also through constant two way interaction with other media. For instance, a Twitter account can direct people to your web site and vice versa. Having a Twitter 'widget' - see mine here on my website is another labour saving device. It keeps your web page looking fresh and up to date but without any extra work. And it's also easy to have all your Tweets appear on your Facebook page - see mine here.
Spent a few minutes tonight trying out a web application which maps your Twitter followers - www.mapmyfollowers.com. It's quick to set up and easy to use. It also displays the most common terms used by your followers. Mine are 'research', 'health' and 'social'.
As I already knew, most of my followers are based in the UK, but it was interesting to see how many are from the US, and mainly concentrated along the east coast. And as I (hopefully!) gain more followers with time, mapping them should be more and more useful.
Because not all Twitter users include a geographical location in their bio (which is the information used by the application), the map doesn't show everyone, and only one of my numerous Cardiff-based followers appears.
There were also a couple of anomalies. One Cardiff-based research centre is shown as being in Wales, South Africa, and a London-based research centre is shown as being in Germany! I suppose the Google-powered map uses the information it finds to the best of its ability. But it did make me realise that it's quite helpful to include several locations (e.g. town + county) when you complete this section of your Twitter bio.