Sunday, October 12, 2014

CFT (Call For Tweeters) #SPEP14

Last year's meeting of the Society for Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy (SPEP) was the first such conference, as far as I'm aware, that was live-tweeted by a significant-enough number of participants to be noteworthy.  I was one of the SPEP Twitterati last year in Eugene, and I wrote a post about that experience after I returned home from the conference.  If you're interested, take a look at the tweets from #SPEP13, which Chris Long (@cplong) of Penn State collected and "Storified" here to be preserved for posterity.  This year's conference in New Orleans is coming up in just under two weeks (Oct 23-25), so I wanted to send out a CFT for #SPEP14 as well as provide a central place for SPEP-Tweeters to find (and follow) one another.

[First things first:  I'll be at SPEP and I'll be live-tweeting it again this year.  My Twitter handle is @DrLeighMJohnson.  The Twitter handle for this blog is @RMWMTMBM.  You can easily "follow" both of us by clicking the appropriate icons in the Twitter columns to your right.]

As I said last year, my experience live-tweeting the SPEP conference (as well as being present at a SPEP conference that was being live-tweeted by others) was tremendously beneficial in a number of ways.  In addition to the most obvious benefit-- namely, being kept abreast of the content of concurrent sessions at which I could not be physically present-- I also learned quite a bit about how philosophers' presentations were being received in real time by their audiences.  Additionally, in a good session, for a good paper, there are always very good comments/questions that never get voiced, either because the Q&A time runs out before such comments/questions can be articulated (or because for [obvious reasons redacted] some audience members are not called-upon by panel-moderators) or because such comments/questions are not fully-formed until well after the session is over.  The #SPEP13 tweets ameliorated those difficulties quite a bit, providing what was, in effect, an unrestrained-by-time-and-space forum for such reflections.

In retrospect, however, I think the greatest benefit of my experience as a SPEP-Tweeter last year was that I met (or "met") so many fellow Tweeters, people who I otherwise may not have had any occasion to know. What is more, I've been able to remain in regular contact with many of those new acquaintances/friends during the intervening year.  Largely via Twitter, we've had a number of productive exchanges, they've made me aware of a number of issues or events that may not have shown up on my intellectual radar and, perhaps greatest of all, I've been connected with even more people and ideas through them and through the voila!-magic that is social networking.

On that last benefit, I want to add the following:
At the risk of over-generalizing, it is nevertheless the case that the dominant demographic for social-media users-- in our discipline, especially-- is "young" (or young-er, or young-ish, i.e., 25-45yr olds).  It is also the case that the younger demographic in academia (and in our discipline, especially) is the demographic most disproportionately burdened by non-ideal (read: minimally-decent) professional conditions.  They are more likely to find themselves in adjunct or non-TT positions with lower "starting" salaries, with less access to monetary and non-monetary resources, with fewer professional networking opportunities and almost-zero effective advocates for their interests (or, in what amounts to the same thing, with almost-zero resources for advocating their interests).  In professional Philosophy especially, they also tend to be overrepresented (comparatively) by members of underrepresented groups in the discipline and, as a consequence, disproportionately bear the brunt of a number of social-cultural systemic disadvantages that currently dominate our discipline.

BUT-- Steven Salaita notwithstanding-- what they/we do have in our favor is Twitter: a completely cost-free, largely unregulated resource for connecting with one another, sharing ideas and resources, crowd-sourcing ideas and norms, establishing new standards of professionalism and participation, redefining what counts as public "goods," organizing, coordinating and, in the best case, actually effecting positive change.

To wit, if you tweet and if you are planning to attend SPEP this year, I invite you to:
  1. Leave a comment below with your name and Twitter handle.  We have just under two weeks to find and "follow" each other before the conference begins on October 25.  Take a minute to register yourself here as one of the SPEP-Tweeters, follow the other SPEP-Tweeters who list themselves below, and check back often to make sure you haven't missed anyone!
  2. Make an effort to attend (and live-tweet) BOTH the Director's Address (Friday at 1pm) AND the Business Meeting (Friday at 5:45pm).  I know, I know, nobody really wants to go to the SPEP Business Meeting-- except me, incorrigible proceduralist that I am-- but the Business Meetings are important. Have you taken a look at what's been happening in our discipline in the last month?!  (I have an Archive here and an Interactive Timeline here, which you should most definitely check out if you're a professional philosopher, because it most definitely affects you!)  It makes a huge difference to be present and voting at the SPEP Business Meeting, especially if one is doing so as a representative of a larger demographic whose interests tend to be underrepresented by the organizations representing us.  To make this request #2 easier, I promise that I will tweet a meet-up location for Tweeters in advance of both Amy Allen's Director's Address and the Business Meeting. So, again, follow me on Twitter.
  3. Just for fun, suggest a few SPEP hashtags in the comments below.  It is inevitable that the dominant hashtag will be #SPEP14 for our conference in a couple of weeks, but there were several other really great (and widely-employed) hashtags last year, including the ridiculously hilarious #spepsnark and #spepWTF,  I've personally committed myself to finding at least one occasion between Oct 23-25 to use the hashtags #spepiphenomnal and/or #speptacular, If you're a veteran Tweeter, you can't deny that you really do want to be the Origin of the Work of Art that is the perfectly-conceived and perfectly-composed Twitter hashtag.  Maybe #GestellFTW?
That's it, Tweeters.  Hope to see you-- digitally or "really"-- in NOLA.

UPDATE:  Robin James (@doctaj) tweeted an excellent suggestion a while ago, which I've retweeted this morning and copied below.  It doesn't appear as if whoever runs the SPEP (@SPEPorg) Twitter account "replies" much, but it sure can't hurt to tweet a similar suggestion (or RT James).


Alex said...

Splendid ideas!

I'm at:

Robin James said...

Thanks SO much for this post, Leigh. I especially appreciate your point about the fact that most of the tweeters are also from underrepresented/overly vulnerable populations.

I'll be tweeting #spep14 from @doctaj.

Anybody know whether there will be free wifi in the meeting areas?

Leigh M. Johnson said...

Again, I'll be there. I'm Leigh Johnson, on Twitter at @DrLeighMJohnson.

In re the wifi question, I was just chatting this morning with Bob Valiier (@Feloniuscrwtp and @PhilosophyMttrs) and he claims that he will have a #HotSpot device with him. For those of us that *won't* be able to carry the Internet in our pockets, I'd strongly suggest writing an email to the SPEP Executive Committee NOW to request that the hotel wifi password be made available for conference attendees.

[off to write that email now]

Rebecca Bamford said...

This is a great idea. Find me here: @RebeccaBamford

Richard A. Lee, Jr. said...

I will be there and tweeting from @rickleephilos

Ideas Man, Ph.D. said...

I'll be tweeting as @ideasmanphd

bob vallier said...

last year, thanks to twitter, i felt like i actually "heard" at least five papers. and some people thought i was there because sass is non-localizable. but, going to conferences always makes me feel anxious, and sometimes some papers make me nauseous. for both conditions, i recommend #speptabysmal.

Michael Norton said...

I'll be there! @mn0001

Adriel Trott said...

I will be there @adrieltrott. #spep14 Best hashtag from #spep13 was #spepsnark which is a place to punch up, not down!

Christopher Long said...

@cplong and @speporg

Christopher Long said...

Here is my post on the Art of Live-Tweeting:

Mark William Westmoreland said...

Mark William Westmoreland