The digital humanities community has gathered around many spaces, such as conferences (and unconferences), summer institutes, digital journals, and blogs. Twitter has evolved as a key space for digital humanists (and a variety of researchers from other fields) to discover peers at other institutions, share information, discuss, debate, and form communities of interest. This resource guide will discuss Twitter as a platform for individual scholars. For a discussion of how projects can navigate the landscape of social media, see “Social Media for Scholarly Projects.”
- tweets: 140 character long messages that can consist of plain text, embedded images and video, geolocation, and links
- mentions: tag a user and loop them into a conversation by mentioning them (@user)
- retweet (RT): repost someone else’s tweet to your account. A retweet does not necessarily signal endorsement.
- favorite: Favoriting a tweet is an affirmative action, usually equivalent to “liking” or endorsing a tweet. Note that all favorited tweets are publicly visible. A user’s favorite tweets can be found on www.twitter.com/user/favorites
- lists: curate either public or private lists of users (e.g. Digital ___ at Berkeley)
- hashtags: join your tweet to a larger discussion by adding the # symbol to keywords (see longer discussion below)
- reply: join a linear discussion among a particular set of users
Tweetdeck: A Tool for Organizing and Exploring Twitter Asynchronously
In Twitter’s default setting, tweets from all people you follow appear in chronological order. This can quickly become overwhelming, as content gets rapidly pushed further down your queue. It also becomes easy to miss content from even a few hours ago.
Tweetedeck helps alleviate this by breaking your Twitter stream into several columns of your choosing. These columns can consist of one user’s tweets, a group of users, all tweets associated with a hashtag, and more.
Example of a Tweetdeck layout. Note how the “latest” tweet time varies from column to column (8 minutes, 1 hour, 5 hours, and 13 days) from left to right: (1) #bdhwg, the Berkeley DH Working Group hashtag (2) Digital ___ at Berkeley, a list curated by DH at Berkeley (3) #twitterstorians, a self-organizing Twitter group with no formal affiliations or hierarchy (4) #DHSI2015, a hashtag for announcements, questions, and comments related to the Digital Humanities Summer Institute at the University of Victoria.
Livetweeting & Using Twitter at Events
Many live events are enhanced by participants’ simultaneous use of Twitter, also known as livetweeting. Twitter-friendly events will often provide a hashtag (#AHA2015 #crowdcon) to help participants (both on-site and remote) find each other on Twitter. Some events incorporate tweets into the event either in parallel (displaying tweets on a screen behind a speaker) or asynchronously (collecting comments from Twitter and reviewing them at the end of an event). Here are some ideas for using Twitter at events:
- Quote, paraphrase, or summarize speakers and activities during the conference. If you are new to Twitter, livetweeting an event is a great way to get started and perform a service for remote attendees.
- Engage friends from other institutions or fields (“This sounds a lot like what @user works on! Thoughts?”)
- Ask the speaker or conference organizers questions. These can be logistical (“Where will the post-event mixer be held?”) or thematic (“You’ve addressed these topics, but what about intersections with these topics?”).
- Hold discussions with other on-site attendees, locate them at the event for further discussion, organize an unconference or temporary working group (useful at large conferences) (“Would really like to discuss electronic literature! Let’s have an unconference in the atrium”).
Hashtags are a dynamic, flexible way of describing and organizing content and communities on the web. Hashtags are key to organizing content on Twitter, but are can also be used to find related content on various social media channels (Facebook, Flickr, etc.). There are a variety of ways to explore hashtags on Twitter:
- conference or event hashtags (#DHSI2015, #crowdcon)
- communities of interest (#twitterstorians, #femtech)
- regularly scheduled discussions, sometimes “moderated” but open to all (#slatalk #withaPhD)
- critical discourse (#blacklivesmatter #notallmen #YesAllWomen)
- current events (#gamergate)
- local events (#berkeley)
However you use hashtags, it’s important to note that they are non-hierarchical, and open to all by virtue of Twitter’s technology. Using hashtags helps associate your tweets with a larger discussion and makes it easier for other users to find your content, jump into the discussion, or aggregate it for analysis (such as this visualization of the Twitter activity at the international 2014 DH conference).
There is no one way to use Twitter. How you decide to use Twitter will depend on your time constraints, where your communities of interest gather, and whether you would like to use Twitter in a one-directional (consumption) or two-directional way (discussion). Begin by looking up some names in your field or at your institution. Slowly build up a network by seeing who these users follow, retweet, or engage in discussion. Below are some resources for finding members of the DH community.
- DHNow: a weekly aggregator of content in the DH community
- DH at Berkeley’s Twitter account: @DHBerkeley
- Digital ___ at Berkeley: a list of UC Berkeley affiliated Twitter users who engage in digital humanities, data science, digital librarianship, etc.
- For information about Twitter (and other social media channels) for scholarly projects, and creating a communications plan, see this resource guide.
- Day of DH 2015: explore regional and discipline groups during this international event for answering the digital humanities community
- Bay Area DH Meetup