At professional conferences: Tweet negative things or no?

At the tweetup this morning, we had an interesting discussion about lack of critiques in information science.  Heather Piwowar noted that only in SIGMETRICS do we see the back and forth about ideas and methods and papers. In other areas of LIS we really don’t. Also, we don’t see really negative things in conference tweets, for the most part. I guess there are a couple of ways to think about this.

First, you don’t want something to seem personal or overly negative and it might be hard to write something nuanced in 140 characters – so can you do good criticism of the exact point in 140 and not be misunderstood? You don’t really want to hurt feelings or crush a grad student.

Second, is your point in criticizing to have  a meaningful discussion? Is it to better understand the science? Or is it to aggrandize yourself? To look smart? When you tweet a question, the audience – whether in the room or elsewhere – might be able answer or might be willing to discuss. When you tweet something good – you share the presentation and carry the conversation farther and online. The presenter won’t see the tweet until much later and won’t really be able to respond in the same setting.

IMO, better to leave criticisms for blog posts where you can (hopefully) be much more clear about where the problem is. That way you also give the presenter the opportunity to reply in time. Even better is to ask the question in the session, but you might not get the opportunity to do so.

Am I off?

3 responses so far

  • Mark says:

    I think that is a good heuristic. It *is* hard to be nuanced--in any direction-- in 140-characters. Include hashtags & @replies and you'll be lucky to have room left for the word 'nuanced.'

    Whether I'd remember it (as a heuristic) or *choose* to override it in a particular situation is another story, of course. But I think your analysis is rather sound.

  • Jack Vinson says:

    I also think it depends on the audience in the conference. My wife's observation (she's got an MLS) is that librarians are generally much more constructively helpful - collaborative even. They want everyone to succeed. Other industries or disciplines are more competitive - and would be more likely to critique via any means.