Live-tweeting at academic conferences

With the Anthropology and Agency Honours Student Conference taking place at Victoria University this Monday, I have been thinking about how we could use Twitter. I crowdsourced a hashtag for the conference on Twitter (#AAHSC thanks to @prancingpapio) and in last week’s class mentioned that they would be welcome to use it to tweet from the conference. I like making anthropology public and this seemed like a good way for me and my students to share research findings, get the hang of live-tweeting, and practice presenting anthropology to a wider audience on Twitter as well as at the conference.

After class finished I remembered last year’s #Twittergate. I’m not sure what sparked it but in September and October 2012 academics used this hashtag to debate the ethics and etiquette of tweeting and blogging live from academic conferences (journalist Steve Kolowish from Inside Higher Ed summarises the debate which led The Guardian’s Ernesto Priego to list 10 rules for live-tweeting from academic conferences). Issues raised during the debate included privacy, control over ‘publishing’ unpolished ideas and research findings, accuracy of information, and respect (‘academic assholes’ use Twitter too).

Having followed some conferences from afar through hashtags on Twitter, I can appreciate why some don’t like live-tweeting. There is a real skill to summarising someone’s research ideas clearly, concisely, respectfully, and in a way that makes sense to those not at the conference. This is a skill I want to develop myself and in my students.

I want to encourage good live-tweeting habits at #AAHSC – basically all of the ‘do’s’ on Vanessa Varin’s excellent crowdsourced article on live-tweeting etiquette. When I open the conference I will inivte the audience to tweet using #AAHSC and briefly go over Varin’s list (which includes clearly identifying speakers, using Twitter handles, and careful listening). I plan to use Storify to collate the tweets after the event.

What ethics and practices do you follow when live-tweeting from conferences?

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