I’m going to the Digital Researcher day at the British Library on Monday (which even has its own hashtag, #DR10) and decided it would be a good time to start a blog for my PhD, which I’ve been meaning to do but just not got round to…
I started thinking about how I use social media (broadly defined) at the moment and realise it’s actually quite a lot. OK, I’ve only just started tweeting (@sallyosborn) and this is my first blog post, but my Google Reader is loaded with other people’s blogs and feeds for new journal issues and conference announcements. I often find myself following up leads or hints I get that way, and this month I’ve booked on five conferences, workshops or talks I probably otherwise would only have found out about when they were over. And I can already see that blogs and Twitter are likely to be useful for more than information – doing a PhD, particularly part time, can be extremely lonely and it’s good to feel like someone’s out there who’s going through the same thing and will help if they can.
We’re now so used to email and the internet more generally (how did we fact check without Google?) that it’s easy to forget the way they’ve revolutionised our lives. My diary’s online, accessible via laptop or iPhone, and my husband’s is too so we can occasionally arrange to be home at the same time 🙂 As a historian who works with manuscripts I’m disappointed by the demise of letter writing – what will there be for future generations to unearth in dusty archives? – but at the same time depend on email to do my job, communicate with my tutor, even with my children (they’ll text from one part of the house to the other, and we don’t live in a mansion). I rarely read a newspaper except online, and I’m even able to view some of the manuscript recipe books I need for my research from the comfort of my armchair (OK, it’s not the same as turning over the pages, but sometimes it helps).
While I do have reservations about using Facebook for anything other than social chitchat and I find the more business-related networking that goes on on sites like LinkedIn rather forced and too salesy for my taste, this is a fast-developing area and I’m sure we’ve only just scratched the surface of what’s possible.
Looking forward to Monday’s workshop to find out more!