Welcome to The Social Academic

Welcome to The Social Academic

I’m Jennifer, The Academic Designer

Jennifer van Alstyne communications strategist

I’m a social media strategist for the HigherEd world.

Welcome to The Social Academic, my blog about online image and identity.

I talk about

  • social media
  • academic websites
  • communication
  • and design

And I interview some awesome faculty and grad students about their social media practices.

Good communication is something we need to talk about. And academia should be taking more advantage of the power of the internet to share their work with the world.

Check out a full listing of articles at the bottom of this post.

The Social Academic

So, what is a social academic?

Urban Dictionary defines “social academic” as

…what every college girl is looking for. He is the perfect balance between social charisma and academic excellence.

It is important to note that a social academic cannot be too social or too academic, but rather a perfect balance between the two.

This makes the social academic a rare and desirable breed of male specimen.

Sydney: “I really like Danny, but he’s just not a social academic.”

Taylor: “That sucks, my boy is a commerce major and can do a keg stand for 3 minutes. He’s a perfect social academic.”

See the full entry here.

This is a sexist and limited definition, but the term itself is appropriate for what we’re trying to do with our online presences in academia: balance our research / writing / teaching with the social aspects of the academy and being ourselves.

Academics can be self-centered. Oftentimes we have to be as research can sometimes be isolating, esoteric, internal. Much of our identities are based on the research and work that we do, and that makes sharing personal.

Share your work with the world

The other side of that is many faculty and researchers struggle with sharing their work publicly.

Dr. Karen Kelsky of The Professor Is In, wrote for Chronicle Vitae, “The fact is, you will be Googled.”

[Yous should know Karen, she’s AMAZING]

People aren’t looking for photos of you drunk on your last vacation.

Okay well maybe there is a Google-savvy grad student on the search committee, but really almost no one is searching for this.

People want to get to know you. Karen says most people want to “get a sense of your intellectual communities, of where and how you are active, and of your ‘style’ of communication.”

Nothing has changed. If anything, it’s become more important.

It’s all about balance.

A good online academic is a social one: if someone Googles you they should be able to find the basics of who you are and what you do in language they can understand in just a few minutes.

And that’s hard.

A good balance between the intellectual/creative pursuits you do, and social networking that allows for people to find and share your ideas with the world.

The bottom line is, you need an online presence beyond the static profile on your university’s faculty page.

This blog is all about the first steps.

And I feature amazing students and academics so they can talk about their research and social media lives.

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The Social Academic

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Jennifer van Alstyne View All →

Jennifer van Alstyne is a Peruvian-American poet and public relations consultant. She founded The Academic Designer, LLC to help academics, researchers, and writers control their online presence and share their work with the world.

She holds a B.A. from Monmouth University in English, and an M.F.A. from Naropa University in Writing & Poetics where she was the Jack Kerouac Fellow. Jennifer also holds an M.A. from University of Louisiana at Lafayette in Literature and Cultural Studies where she was one of four master’s fellows and a finalist for the Outstanding Master’s Graduate Award.

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