Text Patterns - by Alan Jacobs

Monday, March 14, 2011

mine and yours

Why do social media always have to be about social competition? Everyone on Facebook is aware of how many friends they have in relation to how many friends their friends have. On Twitter people celebrate follower milestones: five hundred, a thousand, ten thousand. For a while Tumblr was defaced by a comparative ranking called Tumblarity, which has now disappeared, I hope for good (though Tumblr still tells you how many followers you have).
In light of all this, consider Peer Evaluation, a tool for "empowering scholars." What's it all about? The home page says,
  • Promote and enjoy real-time Open Access to research
  • Share primary data, working papers, books, media links...
  • Receive feedback and reviews from your peers
  • Expose your work to those that matter
  • Aggregate qualitative indicators about your impact
  • Drive, build and share your online reputation
All (potentially) very cool, until those last couple of bullet points, the key ones really — yes: "your online reputation." Because that's what it's all about, isn't it? As Othello says, "Reputation, reputation, reputation! Oh, I have lost my reputation! I have lost the immortal part of myself, and what remains is bestial." Well, we don't want that to happen, do we? So let's consult the site's "Reputation Dashboard" to find out where we stand in the great striving for attention that infects, it would appear, every form of social media.


  • I have to say that my first impression of this site was not good, primarily because I got more tweets than I can count from a single user exhorting "check this out!" I don't know if that was incompetent tweeting or spam from the site, but it didn't endear me. And I can't imagine it would do much good to the tweeter's Reputation Dashboard either. In any case, I'm not registering for the site, so I can't really see any evidence of what it's like in action. But what is it offering that Academia.edu and a blog wouldn't do?

    Though I am thinking about installing a Reputation Dashboard on my minivan, just to alert me when something violates my carefully crafted online persona. I just need to select an appropriate voice for those warnings. @MayorEmanuel, I think, would be just right.

  • http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/10

  • I don't know much about my status in social networks (it's not that hard to be ignorant); I'm not as prominent as I was when the pond was so very much smaller, but that's about it (I don't think I'm even listed in the "Biblioblogger" standings that get posted every month).

    But I am compelled to pay attention to markers of my standing in the world. Part of the University's "Impact Agenda" involves being able to show that our staff is so very important that we change the world even outside our academic speciality. So — painfully — I'm obliged to seek attention.

    Incidentally, if anyone wants to say laudatory things about me in a highly-public non-academic context, please know that I wouldn't mind. Oh, and please tell me (or my Head of Subject).

  • Sarah, I love this: a literal Reputation Dashboard! I am so there!

    And: "highly-public non-academic" props for AKMA. On my to-do list.

    You're right, of course: I've heard of Google Scholar data being used in promotion and tenure cases. I wonder how many Twitter followers we need in this new dispensation. . . .

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