Great Moments in Scholarly Communication

Today I want to highlight a really stunning example of Scholarly Communication on Twitter. Chelsea Vowel, Twitter handle @apihtawikosisan has set the bar high, taking a talk that she has put together, and reproducing it as a Twitter thread, for the reason, she says of initiating a broader conversation. I’ve embedded the first tweet here, please read the whole thread – it’s worth it.

There are a few reasons why I can’t stop thinking about this thread as a fantastic example of research or science communication – both in general and on social media. I’ll list them here:

  1. The slides themselves, designed for the talk, are wonderful. They have compelling images, they’re beautiful and engaging, and they do not contain too much text or Jargon. Chelsea has really taken care with these slides, and it shows.
  2. Her tweets take on a conversational style – making the subject, though it could be dense under other circumstances, very approachable.
  3. She adopts a good length for her tweets – the thread is long to accommodate the big ideas, but each tweet is manageable and flows well to the next one. She doesn’t try to use one tweet per slide, but takes multiple tweets if needed.
  4. The tweet thread also includes links to other media- music videos for example, that help to break up the reading and sometimes lighten the mood on an otherwise heavy (but important) topic.
  5. The topic includes a deconstruction of culture and cultural texts, which could be quite complex, but the tweets, slides and other media help Chelsea to walk people through her ideas even if they have little prior knowledge of her conceptual or theoretical frame(s).

Basically, Chelsea hits all of the recommendations both for communicating research topics generally, and also for communicating them on social media. Thus, she is able to communicate what could be a provocative line of research/theoretical inquiry (decolonization and alternatives to the settler colonial norm) and does so in a way that invites people to engage with her ideas. Likely, there will be naysayers who will resist her ideas either passively, or very actively through trolling or other bad behavior, but by posting this thread, Chelsea is fearless in the sharing of her ideas. And I think it shows. The comments that I currently see in the thread show others who were as impacted by the ideas in the thread as I was. For these reasons, I think Chelsea Vowel has provided a stunning example of online research communication, and one that I hope will inspire others, both to engage with her ideas, and also to change the ways they communicate their own.

Great Moments in Scholarly Communication

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