One of the effects of joining Twitter is that I post on my blog less often

Back in November 2016, following a lot of soul searching and weighing of pros and cons, I joined Twitter.  I was worried about spending too much time on social media, getting into conflicts with trolls, etc.  In any event I thought I’d give it a go and have enjoyed it much more than I expected to.  As much as anything else it’s opened up opportunities for new contacts, and highlighted research and ideas that I’d probably not have otherwise known about, plus Twitter is very amusing on occasion.  So I’ve stuck with it for about one year and don’t imagine that I’ll give it up soon.  However there has been one negative aspect to my use of Twitter: the rate of posting on my blog has gone down substantially, as you can see on this graph:

Blog posts

Although the number of posts per month on my blog has always been a bit erratic, until about a year ago it was trending upwards.  After I joined Twitter, however (marked by a red dashed line on the graph above) my rate of blogging has fallen a lot.

The reason for this is, I think, that it’s now easier and faster for me to tweet about a topic than it is to write about it in a post.  I can think of a number of cases where what would normally have been developed into a post has been dealt with in far fewer words.  One recent example is a tweet I put out about the difference between pollinator “effectiveness” and “efficiency”, which some pollination ecologists are still using as interchangeable terms years after the field decided that they were two different things – see Ne’eman et al. (2010) Biological Reviews.

That tweet came out of frustration with a manuscript that I was reviewing and normally I would have written four or five hundred words on the topic.  This time, however, a short tweet, linked to that paper, was enough to get my message out.

The problem is, of course, that I can’t develop my ideas and arguments in sufficient detail on Twitter and I think that’s a drawback, for me at least.  Plus my blog is becoming a storage area for writing and ideas that I’m recycling in various places, including review articles, and it concerns me that I might be storing up less and less material.

I’m not sure what I can do about this other than try to post more often, but it’s ironic that my blogging seems to be tailing off over the same period where I and some colleagues wrote a paper on the importance of blogging.  Hopefully writing this will give me a kick in the ass to post more and tweet less: time will tell.


18 thoughts on “One of the effects of joining Twitter is that I post on my blog less often

  1. Ben Eagle (thinkingcountry/@benjy_eagle)

    With the number of platforms now around, plus blogging, there’s the danger that we spend far too much time each day in front of our computer screens in the name of social media. I know that I am guilty of it. Recently, I’ve tried to strat blogging every day. Posts needn’t be long, but it’s a self-discipline that I am willing myself on to achieve. I agree that twitter is brilliant for finding new contacts and it can be a lot of fun, but when it comes to exploring ideas in depth you can’t beat a good blog.

    1. Jim Bouldin

      Agree regarding the danger you cite. I think there are some other serious dangers as well, for academics, and that these are flying more or less completely under the radar. Everyone seems to think social media is all upside–I don’t agree at all.

  2. hilarymb

    HI Jeff – I enjoy reading your posts … as I get a fuller picture and your ideas – I’m a member of the public with an interest … not a person of science. I hope you continue to post as and when … cheers Hilary

  3. sleather2012

    As I started Tweeting and blogging at the same time I don’t have any comparable data, in fact I think that over the past year, I have increased the frequency at which I post on my bog 🙂 .

  4. ibartomeus

    This happened to me to the point that I almost abandoned my blog in favor of quick tweets with unbaked ideas… Maybe tweeter is a place to take the pulse on the potential interest and popular tweets should be further developed?

  5. philipstrange

    I remember, some 10 years ago, reading about the effect of acquiring a Blackberry. People couldnt keep their hands off the thing for several weeks and it was referred to as the “crackberry” phase. Perhaps you are still in that phase of Twitter? Dare I call it the “critter phase”?

  6. Jim Bouldin

    I think Twitter is a socially damaging joke frankly, and you basically hit a main reason why. It’s not a conversation and it can’t be. You can’t lay out an argument in 140 characters, and so you have to try to string tweets together to say anything of length, which is clumsy and inconvenient. It forces a certain style of conversation. And there are also plenty of people who will either make no attempt to understand what you say, or even worse, intentionally distort it in their replies, seen by thousands of others.

    Some people follow hundreds, or thousands, of others. Just how do they manage that–scrolling through the endless Tweets, many/most with embedded images? Do they sit there and scroll through all that stuff. I follow only 28 accounts and even then there’s too much to wade through.

    I use it mainly to become aware of papers, but even that is not that helpful and more of a distraction than an actual help.

    My best conversations are with a pair of Bulgarian dogs. Seriously.


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