I’ve become known as a Twitter evangelist around these parts, which is not an entirely inaccurate assessment. I’ve been a user for about three and a half years now, and continually find new, helpful uses for it, thanks largely to other Twitterers’ innovations in the ways that they use the site.
One area that’s seen a lot of innovation has been in education. If you do a Google search for “twitter and academia” or “twitter and classroom,” you’ll find thousands of sites devoted to exploring how the academic world can engage with Twitter to enhance student learning, bridge gaps across disciplines, and otherwise enable communication and sharing in new ways.
If you’re an internet or social media neophyte, though, the Twitterverse can seem more than a little daunting, even for the most illustrious and tech-savvy academic. With millions of users, jumping in at this point takes some mettle – or at least some guidance.
So, dear reader, we’ve curated a list of users you might consider following, especially if you are lucky enough to study American Studies. Besides us, of course.
Granted, this list is by no means any kind of comprehensive! There are hundreds of accounts that would probably be helpful to you and your scholarship, thanks to the big tent quality of the field, but our hope is that these will help you get your feet wet in the Twitterverse.
Check it out below the fold!
First things first: if you’re any kind of affiliated with the world of higher education, you must follow The Chronicle of Higher Education, Inside Higher Education, and ProfHacker. They’ll alert you to the latest developments in academic news, meditations on the scholarly life, and the place of technology in education.
Errol Morris is a fantastic documentary filmmaker, but he’s also an incredibly entertaining Twitterer. He offers both high brow academic tweets (like his discussion of Wittgenstein’s interest in composite photography) and wonderfully pithy one-liners:
Along those documentary lines, check out PBS’s Independent Lens account. They tweet info about documentaries in general as well as “tasty morsels” for your consumption – like clips. Perfect for a brief distraction from whatever work you’ve glanced at Twitter to escape.
For anyone interested in creativity and/or urban life, this is a wonderful resource. Florida (author of The Creative Class and big, big fan of Austin) tweets commentary on topics from American self-centeredness to post-industrial landscapes.
The whole TED project is one of my favorite developments in new media and public knowledge. But much as I love how the entity has grown – you can find hundreds of videos on the website, ted.com – that same growth means it’s hard to choose from all of the awesome. That’s why this Twitter account is so handy: every day (or roughly thereabouts), they tweet a new video for your viewing pleasure. No sifting necessary!
Cornel West is one of our great public intellectuals, working on subjects from politics to race to jazz to rap. On Twitter, he opines about any number of topics, and, if you need more reason to follow him, he recently quoted American Studies patron saint Herman Melville in a tweet:
If you ever wanted to know what happens when comics meet dinosaurs, you’d find out here. Of course, the Smithsonian Magazine doesn’t simply offer poppy content like that; you’ll also find links to articles about Hitchcock films, bluegrass music, and baseball, among other topics.
Iconic photographs live on Life.com. And, since there’s too much there to comb through, the Life Twitter account curates intriguing and relevant photos for our viewing pleasure. Oscars coming up? Get ready for a photographic retrospective of iconic Hollywood moments. Hurricane brewing? You’ll find links to photographs of natural disasters and responses. Timely and always fascinating.
If you have even the slightest interest in photography, follow Magnum Photos. They usually tweet incredible single photographs, but every once in a while, they’ll send off an article or a collection from one of their esteemed members.
You already know The Atlantic’s content is great, so we’re just listing it to remind you that it’s there.
Well, did we miss anyone? Who are your must-follows? Weigh in, comment!