For the last two days I was at the SMKE Social Media conference (Social Media Knowledge Exchange). It’s been really great few days, with plenty of interesting ideas raised, concerns and thoughts expressed, and meeting lots of people with interesting areas of research and interests. My deepest thanks go out to the SMKE organisers, especially our hosts the CRASSH centre at Cambridge. Anne Alexander especially deserves mention for coordinating everything so well.
A large element of the conference was the SMKE scholar projects that have been funded over the last year. We had everything from research into computer games and virtual realities, to social media as a tool for protest and organisation. Questions of legitimacy and verification were raised, concerns over ethics and copyright discussed, and thoughts about the benefits and risks of social media mulled over.
As a whole these sessions proved to be much more than showcasing projects, but thought provoking talks that showed off the various benefits and weaknesses of social media and gave a hint as to future ways forward.
First thing on the second day (Wednesday) it was my turn to talk about the Blogging for Historians project. I went through some of the things that were said by the bloggers who I have interviewed for this project, and discussed a little bit about my findings. It was interesting that it was the comment about word length and the style of writing for a blog that provoked the most interest and discussion. How long should a blog post be? Should we be suggesting a minimum or maximum? Is length really all that important or is it the style of the post that really matters? What draws people in and what sends them away? I’ll be thinking about this and other things as I finalise the toolkit for this project and I will try and post here about some of those musings as they begin to take form.
I’m told that the SMKE website will soon display lots of content about these and the other presentations, but for now here’s a link to the conference programme and to the Storify collection of Twitter posts (day one and day two) that they have gathered together. There was a lot of twittering, which is perhaps not that unexpected considering the topic of the conference but it surprised me just how much these 150 character long pieces managed to capture a good fraction of the conference for posterity.