August Updates

  • Another academic year starts in a few weeks, so expect a slowdown in activity [on my part] from now on.
  • I’m pretty much finished with long pieces (like On Constructive Dialogue and 7 Deadly Sins) for the summer. I’ll mostly stick to reviews and Russia Roundups, unless something very outrageous happens that I just have to comment on. One exception: some thoughts on the current state of American Rusology and Russian Studies.
  • Unfortunately, there will be no Russian Imperialism Comix this summer. I don’t have Photoshop or a way to scan inked pages onto the computer.
  • The final update is that I’m mulling an end to my Twitter presence. Let me explain.

I’ve been active on Twitter for approximately 3 months, but even after that short period of time I’ve gotten signals that a disconnect might be a positive choice. Here’s why:

  1. One of the main reasons I joined Twitter was to promote my blog via social media. However, it appears my presence on social media hasn’t increased my readership by much. Only three of my blog followers are connected with me through Twitter; the vast majority follow the blog via WordPress subscription, email, RSS or just manually checking every day for new posts. Only seventeen of 9, 168 views have come from a link on my Twitter profile. That’s 0.2% of views. For comparison, 810 views (or 9%) come from referrals by other blogs.
  2. The second reason I joined Twitter was to connect with and access the wider discussions going on in both the Russian Studies sphere and the world. Yes, I naively believed the claim that “social media increases the amount of information at the fingertips of the ‘global citizen'”. My first batch of Twitter follows included Russia Direct, RIAC, ASEEES, and the Carnegie Endowment; and I occasionally look at tweets from news outlets. But I quickly learned that although there is an enormous amount of information on Twitter, there’s a deficit of useful information. What you’re getting on Twitter is soundbites, not sound analysis; superficiality, not significance. Twitter has helped me discover some professional Russia-watchers who produce good work – like Bryan MacDonald and Maxim A. Suchkov – but on the whole I can’t say Twitter’s helped me become more informed in the slightest.
  3. In those short three months, I was reminded of exactly why I’d waited nearly ten years to join any social media platform. Initially, I was reluctant to start using social media because I knew how much drama, idiocy, demagoguery, and general ignorance I would find there. Case(s) in point: the pro-/anti- Russia Twitter battles, ideological fights, the whole Trump fiasco, millennial narcissism, the latest #WhereIsPutin hoax, crappy Russia coverage, knee-jerk reactions to basically any and every international event. I underestimated how much tweets by Russia “experts” would annoy me – to the point of changing the tone of my blogging. I don’t need fuel for any more Rage Pages, thank you very much.

I don’t plan to delete my Twitter account anytime soon, since this is somewhat of a snap decision. Plus, there are some really awesome people who I can only connect with through Twitter. What will likely happen now is that I’ll log in less frequently, unfollow some organizations, and prep for an eventual disconnect.

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