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April 05, 2015


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More navel gazing.

Is twittering important? Can you seriously contend that twittering is a form of meaningful scholarly activity, or that law professors play a meaningful role in the "twitter" universe?

A while back, we were promised, if I recall correctly, an analysis of the content of the tweets. I don't recall that post, but when last I checked, the numbers following law professors were infinitesimal. Not even measurable, really.

Can you include how many emails a professor has received? How about phone calls? Let's rank mentions over cocktails.

All of these metrics might be more meaningful.


How about counts for the number of commections a professor has outside of academia? Students care about that.

Ryan Whalen

Anon 1: I'm glad you agree with me that mapping twitter following relations isn't deeply meaningful in this context. However, I disagree with your complete rejection of the value of social media as a source of potential insight about knowledge flow. I think the adoption of altmetric impact measures by many large scientific publishing groups supports the position that social media data can provide meaningful information.

Anon 2: Yes, that's a good point. It would be fairly straight forward to look in more detail at connections outside the field. Perhaps I'll look into it the next time I find time to fetch a batch of census data.



Well, it is entirely appropriate to use a term that derives from a hashtag to describe a way to describe impact that really has nothing to do with impact.

As usual, the fallacy of the false alternative is at work here. No one said that "social media" are irrelevant to "insight about knowledge flow."

What I did say is that Twitter is a frivolous venue in any scholarly sense, and that law profs are an insignificant part of that universe in any event. In fact, after eliminating one or two profs, the average number of followers of law profs on Twitter is so embarrassingly insignificant that portraying a sort of colorful cloud populated by tiny names doesn't seem to me to be particularly meaningful or relevant. Others may disagree, but I suspect it is those who want to see how they "rank" against others in this activity.

In fact, the twitter of law profs seems, objectively to be of no importance whatsoever to anyone. This is not to say that law profs shouldn't twitter. This is not to say that law prof should be faulted for doing so.

THis is to say that attempting to dress up and rank and scrutinize this mainly unnoticed activity seems to be self aggrandizing navel gazing and not worthy of your talents.

Mary Dudziak

Ryan - I look forward to looking more closely at this. In case it's helpful to know - I am not complaining just passing on user info, the graphic seems not to be mobile friendly, at least on my android.

An idea for the future - though this may take too much work - would be to track interdisciplinary networks. I find that twitter is incredibly useful for networking with a much wider range of historians than I was previously in touch with. And it enables historians interested in law to easily follow law blogs or individual scholars.

Ryan Whalen

Thanks Mary. Mobile friendliness can be tricky. The network 'should' work on an Android, but if the screen dimensions are on the smaller side it won't work very well.

I agree that cross-discipline relations would be an interesting area to look at.

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