Twitter, Crowdsourcing and Access to Knowledge

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.

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6 Responses to “Twitter, Crowdsourcing and Access to Knowledge”

  1. Virginia Yonkers Says:

    I wrote a similar post only from the stand point of how much more difficult it is to get the sources of information (even though you know its out there) without having to pay through the nose for it.

  2. tinydot Says:

    as a studt, i appreciate that type of collaboration as i’ve gone thru the same frustration of time and effort spent looking for articles we need for research (to elaborate: eye strain from staring at the computer, neckache from hunching in front of the computer, which translate into overall exhaustion). however, from the viewpoint of businesses, we are the ‘pirates’ even though we don’t profit from it. what businesses need to do is to restructure their businesses to profit in other ways, not in frustrating research and educational efforts.

  3. Cristina Costa Says:

    Andy – this just send the message that knowledge is meant to be open, isn’t it? I do not see myself as a pirate but rather as someone who helps others get access to stuff. I have asked for my network to provide me with papers I don’t have and also provided my network with papers they had no access to. At some stage we will all all be in this situation, especially now with this crisis… universities will cut down on subscriptions,etc…
    And then of course wealthier institutions, wealthier students will always stand better chances of doing better. Knowledge should not be an exclusive right of some but all. Is that the role of academia, educators, researchers…?

    I do not put them on google docs, as this is another mean of re-publishing, but any time I have a chance to help someone I will. Email is still powerful.

    Another issue: found out the hardest way that the inter-library loan service does not apply to online journals or ebooks…so much for the innovative exchange deal…
    My real library is my PLN… so much more resourceful 😉
    Thanks for sharing

  4. Andy Coverdale Says:

    I totally share your sentiments Cristina, though we need to recognise some students can be highly respectful of traditional academic practices and norms and cautious of challenging paradigms – and that this can be more of an obstacle to adopting social media than any preconceived concerns about the technologies.

  5. Cristina Costa Says:

    of course it is!
    It is still the norm… and the more cynical will even go further and justify that their online presence does not bring them any academic value or joy, which is arguable! I have another take on this one. I think word of mouth is still the best way to disseminate your work and online this ‘very traditional’ 🙂 form of spreading news can be amplified almost to an extreme!. Yet, the truth is that only very well established research journals, traditional forms of research communication and public engagement do count as part of one’s academic achievements. Those are guidelines we should aim to change!! Even now when Universities are starting to issue Open Access Mandates, open access journals don’t seem to me on the ‘must publish’ list! Funny ha…? So much for innovation!

    Yet, one thing is certain, I still haven’t met one single academic that doesn’t use the web to gain access to information. Even if it is just google scholar. So if they are taking, why shouldn’t they give?
    I just wish people stopped being so uptight about the Internet! … but that’s me just being grumpy.

    And Yes again..there is a culture to change… change is slow, but hopefully effective! (fingers crossed!) The problem is that those who advocate change aren’t always ready for the change themselves… but that’s another story all together!

  6. Free Academic Books Here! | PhD Blog (dot) Net Says:

    […] about how researchers use crowdsourcing on Twitter to access academic papers – an activity I also discussed a couple of years ago. The #ICanHazPDF hash tag was created specifically to facilitate such […]

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