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[I wrote this post several days ago, but didn't get round to publishing it. Apologies if everyone is bored of the whole issue by now!]
With the recent (and much discussed!) news that the Library of Congress had acquired the Twitter archives, I have one question (well, several actually, but we’ll stick with this one for now): will this change the way you tweet?
Tweets are ephemera. Now, ephemera is considered an extremely valuable historical/social research tool, but one of the prerequisites of ephemera is that it is not intended for preservation. What happens now when it is?
Nothing. Probably. We’ll forget about it. The way we forget about cctv and those guys in the golf balls on the Yorkshire moors who read all our emails.
But – for the first few days, at least – will you try to add a little extra insight, a little extra pizzazz for the sake of future readers? Will you take this as your chance to influence how history remembers you? To be the guy who had that really funny and insightful tweet about the leaders debate or the Iceland volcano? To be quoted in a future thesis or book?
Do the Twitter archives hold potential future value for researchers? Will tweets have a chance at immortality? Of course. But the thing about future researchers – as everyone who has had to think about collection/acquisition policies will know – is that we have no idea what they will find valuable. So while you’re trying to wow posterity with your political acumen and elegant turn of phrase, it might be the person who tweets what they have for their lunch every day who ends up as the cornerstone of ‘Sandwiches as an economic force: an exploration of working lunch habits in the early 21st century’.
Being remembered by history is still a lottery, but Twitter and the LoC may just have given you a few free tickets…
Well, the portfolios are done, bound, and in the post, and it’s time to reflect on what Chartership and the chartering process have meant to me.
Several people have asked me about this already, and I think I’ve tended to be fairly vague and desultory – ‘well, it’s something you’ve got to do, isn’t it? just a few hoops to jump through… but not too bad overall’. But do I really feel like this about Chartership? And, if so, why did I do it at all?
Now, my mentor was a lovely, lovely lady, who I really enjoyed spending time with, but this doesn’t tell the whole story of why I found the mentor relationship to be by far the most valuable facet of the Chartership process. Why? Because of the huge importance of simply having someone to tell me that it’s ok – nay, required! – to say good things about yourself.
I have problems with this, probably a result of an upbringing in which there was no middle ground between becoming modesty and vulgar boasting, but I’ve been getting better over the years, and have generally come to manage to admit when I’m not so shoddy at summat. So why do I – and others! – still have this problem when it comes to saying that we’re actually really quire decent info profs?
Well, guys, I’m afraid it’s all your fault. Yup, this is one I’m putting squarely on the shoulders of my peer group and social networks. Not because you’re mean and horrible, but because you’re just all so darn good at things!
We measure success, not against some abstract ideal, but from a concrete comparison of our achievements with those of our peers. As the general level of achievement rises, so do the criteria considered to denote “success”. and boy-oh-boy, are you lot a load of over-achievers
Just from memory, and in the last few weeks alone, people in my Twitter network have won prizes and awards; have got exciting new jobs and promotions; have given papers and written articles; have got distinctions and started PhDs. My peer group is enthusiastic, intelligent, active, engaged. They serve on project boards, plan conferences, and write manifestos. They write ridiculously thoughtful and erudite blog posts. They edit journals and run workshops and make websites and implement innovative services and oh my guts and garters do these people ever sleep?
And yes, ok, I do some of those things too. But they’ve become the norm, which in some ways is such a brilliant, wonderful, inspiring thing that it makes me want to cry a bit and give you all a great big hug. But it also means that it can be easy to overlook the smaller achievements; to count yourself as insignificant among this gallery of stars, and we need the positive reinforcement of feeling that we have achieved to continue achieving.
So that is what Chartership has done for me. It has given me a still, small place outside the glamour and pressures of my peer group, and allowed me to measure my achievements against myself. It’s given me the chance and the encouragement to say ‘I done good’, and to remember that, sometimes, it’s about what the profession can give me, as well as about what I can give the profession. There may have been some hoop-jumping involved, but those hoops have helped to strengthen and affirm my sense of place within the profession. So there may have been swearing and grumbling and groaning, but I’m glad I did it. [DISCLAIMER: I reserve the right to edit/delete/throw a hissy fit if I don't pass ]