Academics often ask me why they should consider using Twitter.  There are a number of very good reasons, to my mind;

  • To raise their profile in their area of expertise, and to contribute to a digital profile for themselves that is worthy of the position they are working towards
  • To identify and network with collaborators including academic thought leaders, peer researchers, academic journals, mainstream media, journalists, research subjects and funding sources, cultivating a useful professional network
  • To stay in touch with current opinion, news and relevant material in their area
  • To engage in lively peer review with thought leaders in their area
  • To discover opportunities to attend events in the real world and follow/take part in conferences they couldn’t otherwise attend virtually
  • To publish live impressions and commentary from conferences and events they attend, thus providing a useful public service to those in their online network
  • To improve career opportunities and get head hunted for jobs
  • To improve the dissemination and reach of their research findings publications

Do you have any more suggestions?

When in his statement on the spoof corporate style relaunch video, Michael Birch, one of the original founders of Bebo (who sold the site to AOL in 2008 for $850 million and recently bought it back for $1 million) crowed that the old site had effectively amassed “potentially career destroying photos” and “arguably the single biggest repository of illustrated cock and balls” doodles the world has ever known – clearly he was intending to shock. However, with that assertion he may just have alienated the generation who, up until then, was nostalgically reminiscing with him about their time in the schoolyard when Bebo had the zeitgeist.

Bebo is down at the moment, but the FAQ page in the social platform’s place, assures all that the accounts still exist and that if you give them your email address, it will soon be possible to download your photos and blog posts… Yes, they are all still “safe” on a server somewhere. Hurrah?

Couple this offer up with the threat to privacy of Yahoo recycling email addresses and consider the issues this could raise!

I am aware of concerns from mature post-graduate students because they can’t remember what email addresses they used to register on the site and have no idea what their passwords were to access them either. They are however, increasingly aware of cases such as that of Paris Brown, forced to resign as Junior Police Commissioner for Kent when her childhood antics on Twitter came to light.

Initially, I myself wondered if the juvenile whiteboard and quizzes of their youth would tap into some retro appeal for the increasingly sophisticated social media landscape of today, but apparently, these are to be retired along with the skins, quizzes, wall posts and games. However, news that it will soon be possible to access and download archived legacy materials including blog posts and photos has left many, “old school” users feeling threatened by the potential for long abandoned profiles to be discovered or accessed by prospective employers, clients and even partners.

“When they say you will be free to download, do they mean that it will be possible to to delete?” This is not clear. I have inquired but as yet, I have had no reply.

Bebo, reigned supreme in the school yards of the UK, Eire and New Zealand in the mid to late 00’s until it fell out of fashion with it’s fickle users who moved on to Facebook, Twitter, What’sApp and Snapchat. Much of the generation who made Bebo so popular then are now graduates with a foot firmly in the career ladder, some are waking up to the power of their digital profiles and beginning to express anxiety about the possibility of a renewed spotlight on their childhood musings coming back to haunt them, now that they are qualified teachers, doctors and lawyers. Those who have already deleted their accounts on Bebo, claim that it was impossible to delete any postings or comments they made on other people’s profiles.

“Anyone who isn’t embarrassed of who they were last year probably isn’t learning enough.” (Alain de Botton)

This is something that those with an interest in the resurrection of Bebo must be alert to!