I’ve been fascinated and increasingly troubled by the steady stream of faculty, students and staff in colleges and universities who have blown up their careers in social media. It’s possible these episodes will not create lasting harm in all cases, but for many of these individuals the experience is potentially life-changing. I also suspect that the majority of these episodes are stemming from naïveté about how overwhelming the response can be when you wander into the path of an online mob.
University of Michigan Professor Juan Cole told me a tongue-in-cheek story to illustrate why he is so passionate about bringing his scholarship into the public sphere through blogging and Twitter.
“A Fulbright committee once asked me how I planned to share the results of what I studied in India. ‘What do you mean, how,’ I asked. ‘I’ll write an article for the best journal I can so a handful of other scholars like me can read it, of course.’”
The world needs informed public dialogue like never before, and higher education has an important role ahead: Incentivize broad, public dissemination of faculty scholarship, and make it easier for faculty to share their expertise with lay audiences. Continue reading