Saturday 12 April 2014

WeSpeechies: A meeting point on Twitter

As an avid Twitter user, I'm always interested in new developments in social media, and so I was intrigued when Caroline Bowen (@speech_woman) and Bronwyn Hemsley (@bronwynhemsley) invited me to curate a session of @WeSpeechies for a week.
I said yes immediately, though I had no real idea (and still have no real idea) of what I was getting myself into. But I knew that Caroline had done an enormous amount to encourage 'Speechies' (i.e., Speech and Language Therapists in the UK/Speech-Language Pathologists elsewhere) to use the internet. In 1998, she started a web-based resource: this is a mine of useful information, including links to assessments, interventions and evidence-based information.
I'm not a speechie myself –  I'm a full-time researcher with a Principal Research Fellowship from the Wellcome Trust and my background is neuropsychology -   but I've always worked closely with the profession, because of my interest in children's communication impairments. So it's great to have the opportunity to interact with those who work at the coalface, and @WeSpeechies seems like a great idea.
But how does it work? Well, there's a description here.
In brief, the idea is that the Twitter handle @wespeechies is taken over by someone – the 'curator' – for a week, with the idea that they can foster interesting exchanges on Twitter. What's more, the interactions can be preserved: this can be helped if those interacting with @wespeechies remember to add the hashtag #WeSpeechies to their tweets.This way we can build an archive of useful and interesting interactions.
Now, of course, most of us are not glued to Twitter all day, even though we may give that impression, and there can be difficulties in interacting across time zones. As curator, I plan to check in a couple of times every day during the week to respond to tweets, but Caroline and Bronwyn wanted also to ensure that there is an opportunity for some live chat. They therefore include in the course of the week a "Tuesday Chat", which involves me chairing a Q&A session. Caroline and Bronwyn have kindly given me an easy topic for my first attempt, namely Apprehensive Academics on Twitter – inspired by this blogpost.
I'm going to do this at 8 to 9 in the morning on Tuesday 15th April 2014 on British Standard Time. This means that the live chat should appeal to night owls in North America, and larks in UK and Europe, whereas for those in Australasia it will be afternoon or early evening.
If you'd like to take part, please feel free to respond to any message from @wespeechies, and remember to include #WeSpeechies in your message. I've generated some questions to get the ball rolling; if you want to answer one of these, please make it clear which one by including, for instance, A1, A2, A3 etc at the start of your Tweet.
Q1 What makes for an effective/ineffective tweet? #WeSpeechies

Q2 Have you got any tips for attracting followers? #WeSpeechies

Q3 Are there downsides to Twitter? #WeSpeechies 
Q4 What unexpected benefits of Twitter have you found?  #WeSpeechies

Q5 Does your employer have an issue or policy on staff being on Twitter, that you know about?  #WeSpeechies
Please note that the idea of #WeSpeechies is to engage and connect with those who work as SALTs/SLPs or who have shared interests in problems affecting communication and/or swallowing. You don't need to be an expert – on the contrary, part of the fun of the exercise is that we can all share experiences and maybe learn something new. The hope is that, if you take part, you may find new contacts around the globe: people with shared interests who can make you feel more of a world-wide community.
A final note of warning: WeSpeechies does not encourage advertisers, spammers or trolls. It is not the place to try and sell or endorse a product. Anyone who does not abide by the basic @WeSpeechies guidelines will be warned and then blocked if the advertising or unsuitable promo Tweets continue.

If you are interested in speechie issues, I do hope you will participate by following @WeSpeechies. I'll be taking over the twitter handle on Sunday 13th April for a week, so look forward to meeting you there!

P.S. 15th April 2014
The Live Chat was fun, if somewhat frenetic.
If you missed it, you can see the tweets collated here:

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