During the second of our social media sessions at the Jubilee Graduate Centre, I mentioned that I had recently responded to a tweet from one of my followees on Twitter. He posted a link to an article he was desperate to read but unable to access as his University wasn’t subscribed to that particular journal. I quickly found out I had access to the article through my University of Nottingham account, and uploaded it to GoogleDocs for him to pick up. For all I know, others may have responded in the same way.
Interestingly, the response to this in the session was mixed. Most I’m sure, appreciated the time and effort I saved this guy; the inter-library loan service is an invaluable yet often frustratingly time-consuming provision which many of us rely on. I used the opportunity to emphasise the expectation of reciprocity in social media interactions; that I would hope others would do the same thing for me. Perhaps the uneasiness evident in some of the responses was a natural reaction to the way this small, virtually insignificant act represents one of the ways social media challenges traditional channels of academic access to knowledge. And the recognition that we all influence, and depend on, the complex socio-economic structures that bind Higher Education and academic publishing.