30 Days of Social: Day 1 – Introductions

Welcome to the first day of my Digital Writing Month (DigiWriMo) project, 30 Days of Social. This project will explore my relationship with social media, and how it influences my life and work as an aspiring digital humanist.

Social media has been on my mind as of late, seeing that it is largely my only connection to the outside world. For the past year I’ve been working as a elementary school English teacher in South Korea. My partner and I live in, what I’ve been told, is the smallest city in the country – Samcheok City in the rural province of Gangwon-do.

We have been in Korea now for 51 weeks of a 52 week contract. With our time here at a close, I’ve been reflecting on the past year, taking stock of what has been successful and what has been less than successful.

While English may be the second official language of Korea, it’s often difficult to find fluent English speakers in Samcheok. There are roughly a dozen other foreign English teachers (or Waygooks as we are called in Anglicized Korean) in the area, but aside from my wonderful partner who has been a true life-line this past year, I can go for days without having an English conversation with someone.

As you can imagine, this can feel fairly isolating. Thankfully over the course of this year I’ve become heavily involved with twitter.

My partner (Beth) and I came to Korea after finishing our MA degrees in the UK. My MA was a great experience because it allowed me to realize that I didn’t enjoy my area of study and it was time for a change. Being in Korea has given me the chance to revaluate my academic goals and begin to transition to a new field, that field being the intersection of public history and the digital humanities. I’ve come to realize that I don’t love medieval history (my former area of study), I love the study of history. I want to devote my life and studies to empowering more people to take activity roles in studying the history that interests them.

Twitter has had an huge impact on my foray into a new area of study. It’s exposed me to new ideas, introduced me to a community of absolutely wonderful people, and exposed me to interesting opportunities like DigiWriMo. I am astounded by just how friendly and welcoming the digital humanities community on twitter is. Just yesterday I tweeted that I was feeling sad about my last day teaching at my favorite school, and within minutes two people that I’ve never even met in ‘real life’ send me really thoughtful messages.

Experiences like this reaffirm the value of social media. It allows people to interact and form meaningful intellectual and emotion connections, sharing knowledge, experience, humor, and compassion.

It can be easy to feel down about the internet. Just read a few Youtube comments, or follow a few trending hashtags, or read the comments to a political article and it would be easy to become convinced that the internet is fuelled by ignorance, anger, and hate. I’m an not a religious person in the slightest, but I do believe in the basic goodness of humanity. This is one of the reasons that I study the humanities. Communities like the digital humanities community on twitter reaffirm that while trolls may cast a large shadow on much of the internet, there are considerably more thoughtful, kind, and intelligent people than there are trolls.

My goal for 30 Days of Social is to write a guide for people who are interested in using social media in constructive ways to build communities and interact with other people. In my past studies as a medievalist I researched the intellectual history of the book. Since the rise of the book and literate modes of communication in the early middle ages, the act of writing was largely an individual act. For the last millenium, writing was the dominate of individual discourse. Social media has changed this offering new paradigms for writing, collaboration, and expression. At the risk of sounding hyperbolic, the internet and digital technology offers the most dramatic change to the act of writing in more than a thousand years.

Through my DigiWriMo project I hope to explore these new paradigms, highlighting people who have excelled using social media and examining why certain people have failed. Below you’ll find a tentative list schedule for 30 Days of Social, while the posts will likely change over the month, this is the rough schedule I’d like to follow.

30 Days of Social:

Day 1 – Introduction – my experience with social media

Day 2 - How to stay connected when you’re out of the loop

Day 3 – 2D grocery stores? – how QR codes are being used in South Korea

Day 4 – My blender hates the President – why twitter should be used carefully

Day 5 – Review of the book Groundswell

Day 6 – Do loose lips sink scholarships?

Day 7 – Is Web 2.0 dead?

Day 8 – Social networking the old fashioned way

Day 9 – Waygook.org, online communities, and schisms

Day 10 – Should my parents care about social media?

Day 11 – Museum websites – the good, the bad, and the ugly

Day 12 – Why social media should be in the classroom

Day 13 – Is so.cl getting any be.ttr?

Day 14 – Why Google+ is actually pretty cool

Day 15 – Online conferences – why Skype is a false friend

Day 16- 3D printing – making the internet tangible

Day 17- Museums, social media, and social functions

Day 18 – Digital storytelling vs. telling a story digitally

Day 19 – A look back at the 2012 presidential election

Day 20 – My brief social media war with my university

Day 21 – Social media in Asia

Day 22 – Guest post

Day 23 – Do numbers matter?

Day 24 – Why I should(n’t) care about Klout

Day 25 – App.net is it worth it?

Day 26 – How to live stream audio on the internet

Day 27 – Why universities should be more like Amazon

Day 28 – MOOCs and social learning

Day 29 – How to live stream video on the internet

Day 30 – Conclusions – what I’ve learned about social media

2 thoughts on “30 Days of Social: Day 1 – Introductions

  1. Hi, Ryan. Thanks for this post. I’m a Ph.D. working in administration. I really miss scholarly discourse and more intellectual pursuits. I stumbled upon digiwrimo and decided to give it a try, but I am way out of my league. I just introduced myself to wordpress yesterday, and my twitter use is, like, a week old. I’m so intrigued by how people like you say that twitter has introduced you to new ideas and new communities. So far in my experience, the tweets are coming at such a lightning pace (and it’s still a bit like a new language), that I’m struggling with how this actually leads to connections. I like your list of topics and it seems like I’m just the audience you’re looking for! :) I’ll be sure to check back.

    • I know what you mean about tweets coming at a lightening pace. I follow nearly 1000 people now, and it can be overwhelming to try to keep up. For a while I felt a small amount of anxiety when I wasn’t on twitter because I was worrying that I was missing out on something.

      Eventually I found that social connections in twitter are a lot like twitter connections in the real world. You meet a lot of people in your daily life, but only a few people click with you and end up forming meaningful friendships. Certain people on twitter have clicked with me have formed digital friendships that I value.

      I really started to enjoy twitter when I stopped worrying about reading everything and started to embrace serendipity.

      There’s definitely a learning curve with social media, I hope you find a community you value!

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