Brain food: lunch and lectures

UCL runs a series of public events under the title of Brain Food, which I think is a brilliant title. Part of the Brian food events are the Lunch Hour Lectures. The lectures, which have been running since the 1940s and rated as one of the 10 best ways to spend your lunch break in London. The main aim of the LHL’s are to provide an opportunity for anyone to sample the exceptional research work taking place at the university, in bite size chunks.

The 17th March saw Claire Warwick’s Lunch Hour Lecture to mark 5th anniversary of Twitter on 21 March. I had the privilege of writing the LHL brain food blog post about the lecture.  It will be going up on The LHL page I think.  But I’m not sure when or how.  But here is a bit of a sneak peak of part of it.

LUNCH HOUR LECTURE: Great 2 meet u IRL Twitter and digital identity

The topic focused on Twitter and digital identity. Asking questions about whether or not Twitter is an ephemeral technology, consisting of mundane, pointless tweets about people’s personal lives, normally revolving around what people had for lunch? Or can a study of its use help us to understand how we express our identities on and offline?

Claire Warwick started the LHL by stating that each of her slides will use Twitter conventions and language, all the slides were also auto tweeted so there could be a direct online discussion as well as followed by those in the lecture itself. Traditionally lectures have a single focus of attention. I think Claire showcased how Twitter, positioned alongside the official lecture, can provide another dimension of communication which can extend beyond the lecture room to engage with a much larger audience. Changing the dynamics of the lecture room from a one to many transmission to a many to many interaction. The LHL’s are live streamed so this also adds another type of audience into the mix. It is obviously incredibly important to include that audience in with the discussions arising from the lectures, just because they aren’t in the physical space does not mean that they are in anyway less engaged and interested in the content. Twitter provides that facility.

Claire’s approach to the lecture was lighthearted, again in with the way a lot of academics, particularly at UCL’s Centre for Digital Humanities use Twitter. There is a serious point to this though, Twitter conventions are an interesting challenge when taken out of context and put into a physical space, but Claire shows it can be done, raising questions about the fact that there are different languages within digital media. Tipping these language conventions on its head by deliberately changing the way you register with a language and a tone of voice. Claire also stated that Tweets are More permanent than speech which is something individuals should be aware of.

Claire then went on to discuss Digital Identity Asking: Who are we online really?

Is the UCLDH website, or the UCL website part of our digital identity? The answer is most definitely yes, Corporate Digital Identity is becoming more and more important. But the purpose of this lecture was to talk about individual digital identity. This is not a new idea, it has grown from the concepts of cyborgs and avatars and talking to the machine to brilliant manifestations of virtual communities to tweets & social media.
But what does that do to our identity? Are we playing a role or being ourselves?
The idea that the avatar an individual chooses actually says a lot about you; some of the options discussed were:

What does your Twitter handle and avatar say about you??

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