Just like Augustine marveled, in the year 400, at the sight of Ambrose reading in silence, many members of academia marvel (or react with rejection) at the rapid changes in the production and dissemination of scholarly work and interaction between academics and those “outside” academic institutions. Thousands of scholars and higher education institutions are participating in social media (such as Twitter), as an important aspect of their research and teaching work.
There is still considerable resistance to embracing social media tools for educational purposes, but if you are reading this article you are probably willing to consider their positive effects. New technologies have slow adoption cycles, and often the learning curve is steep. Those already using these tools within academic contexts should not be considered a priori as “the converted”; perception and usage of social media varies wildly, and due to the inherently fluid and malleable nature of the platforms themselves we are still in the process of assessing all their possibilities.