In order to expand my knowledge on the importance of online presence that we have begun to discuss in class with the creation of our own blog/websites, I attended a DH open office hour talk led by Dr. Ryan Cordell entitled “Building a Professional Online Presence.” Dr. Cordell began the talk by explaining all of the different ways that he is online including his own personal website (for information about himself/personal blogs and works in progress), Facebook (mostly personal/partially professional), Twitter (entirely professional), and Humanities Commons (for published work). Initially I was surprised by how many platforms Dr. Cordell can be found on, especially since none of the professors from my undergraduate institution had personal websites or twitter accounts like Dr. Cordell’s. Only once starting at Northeastern have I learned that this is a common practice. Due to my lack of knowledge on the subject I was quite overwhelmed by Dr. Cordell’s online presence, but after he explained the importance of each site, I see why he puts so much time into his professional online presence.
One very valuable thing that I learned from Dr. Cordell’s talk is that blogs can be a valuable academic asset. Prior to starting grad school, I always thought of blogs as sites where people talked about food and clothes, never as a platform to discuss academic topics. Dr. Cordell described a blog as a “milestone” and after his talk I can understand why. Blog posts can be used as a place to begin to formulate an idea that can be used for an academic paper or project, and they can also allow a person to get an idea out there for the public to see and to make connections. Dr. Cordell brought up the example of a Silicon Valley tech reaching out to him to discuss a topic that he wrote about in one of his blogs. That tech is someone that Dr. Cordell never would have spoken to otherwise, so having the blog is extremely valuable because it enables him to discuss topics with people all over the world in extremely different professions, not only making connections but also exploring how other people view his work. Like a personal blog, Twitter is another platform to connect with other professionals that I had never really thought about. Twitter, like a professional blog, is a great way to connect with people who share similar interests and to stay tuned as to what is going on in the professional world. By following fellow professors, authors, etc., professionals have the ability to keep up with all the new information coming from other academics and institutions.
By attending this talk, I learned that being able to have an online presence gives students like me an opportunity to not only share my work, but also is a place to learn from and connect with other scholars. Personal websites without blogs are supremely valuable in their ability to share a person’s information on a platform that they are comfortable with, but by adding a blog portion or having a professional twitter, that gives someone the ability to connect with others on a topic that they find interesting and in doing so gives them the opportunity to grow and learn in a way that scholars from previous generations did not have. I personally find that to be a very valuable lesson.