I started my PhD a little over 6 months ago and I still remember my first supervision meeting. We discussed the usual things: research questions, lit review, milestones etc. But, the one question I didn’t expect was “Sophie, do you have your own website?” To which I replied “ummm noooo” thinking to myself – why would I have a website about me? I’m not important and I don’t want my face all over the internet. My supervisors then went on tell me how important it was to have a digital presence and that having an online presence was critical in academia. *Me thinking to myself again* But I don’t want a digital presence….lots of academics and researchers don’t have websites about themselves…I’ll be fine without one, I can do academia without being on the net. They then asked if I had a twitter account – and I slowly shook my head side to side and said nooooooo…They again explained how twitter was a platform that many academics used to share their research, connect with others, have discussions, and where apparently heated debates among some big wigs (high profile researchers) had taken place. I left that meeting still unconvinced that I needed a “web presence”. I compromised and said I would check out twitter. Over the next few days I researched twitter. Like literally. I went on their privacy page, read how it all worked, googled pro and cons about twitter (yes – I am that person), and to be honest I wasn’t impressed that anyone could follow me without my permission and that my tweets would be public…I was like what the? I’ve been pretty happy that I’ve been ungoogable for the past 10 years and I’ll admit I like having my anonymity.
But, I decided to give it a go, and besides it’s not like Facey, where people post about their *cough* exciting lives. This is a platform were researchers can share their ideas and connect with others who are interested in their ideas. My next meeting, I said I would compromise and open a twitter account. They seemed satisfied with that.
Note: I just created an account – no tweets.
Fast forward to March – when the Learning Analytics and Knowledge (LAK) Conference was on. And, maaaaaaaaaaaaaaan was I not with it. I was having FOMO. All these conversations were happening on twitter. People were tweeting non-stop. And I was missing out. Luckily, my fellow PhD peers were showing me the conversations that were taking place. People were tweeting their opinions and raising thought provoking questions. Debates were happening. And suddenly, just like that, I wanted to be part of it. I wanted to tweet.
Now, let’s fast forward to 3 weeks later. I received an email from my supervisor wanting to update our staff profiles and wanted our website and twitter links. I then received another email one second later asking me if I had a website and explaining the importance of having a personal website. I read it. I agreed. He made a good case. And after attending LAK I saw firsthand how many people referred back to their website for articles and details about their research if others wanted to know more and connect. Having a digital presence is another way of networking and being a PhD student we all know how important networking is. And I did some more digging on this and found that having your own website can lead to jobs, promotes your research, makes your research more accessible, facilitates collaboration and lets you control your online identity.
Now, let’s jump to today – 27/3/2018. And BAM! Not only do I tweet and retweet, but I now have a website and my first blog post.