Thoughts on TED talks

For this week’s post I would like to talk about TED talks, a podcast I have been using for two years now.

I first use TED talks when I was a master student majoring in sustainable tourism and found that there were quite a few interesting talks on the topic of sustainability. I started followed TED talk on Facebook, where they usually post/repost some inspiring and carefully selected talks. Since then I no longer only focused on sustainability but a wide range of topics. And personally I appreciate the fact that their Facebook page is quite active and I could usually spare a few minutes to watch some short talks while I am scrolling down Facebook. In fact, now I rarely will go on to their website to search for specific topics.

Albeit without specific focus, watching TED talk seems to have little to do with my research, it in fact helps me to acquires some good general knowledge. My research is on tourism and social science. Hence, it is important for me understand what is actually going on in the society. For instance, the latest talk that I watched is a powerful speech on preconception on transgender and how it affects their everyday life. Gender issue have always been an ongoing topics in social science and in recent years has render itself as a critical topic in tourism research. This talk in fact inspired me to think more about how gender can affect social life as well as tourism.

There is one thing that I also love about TED talks is that the speakers usually have very good presentation skills which makes me engaged with their speech effortlessly. In addition, it also urges me to think about how will I design my slides and present my research when the time comes.

Professional Networks

I have accounts of both LinkedIn and Academia.edu but have rarely made use of them. LinkedIn from my perspective is a useful platform to present a professional profile as it is widely used by both researchers in academia and practitioners in the industry. However, as an early-stage PhD student went straight from my undergraduate and Master to a PhD programme, I have, on one hand, very little work experiences but a few short-term internships, and on the other hand, no acknowledged research work. My LinkedIn profile is not at all likely to capture eyes of potential employers. Moreover, because I had little work experiences, I almost have no connections on LinkedIn, which even worsens the situation. Therefore, I still need to contrive to build up my competitiveness and network.

Academia.edu is specialised for academics. Since I intend to pursue a career as a researcher, Academia.edu is probably a networking tool I should pay extra attention to. Albeit I still have no published paper that I could upload, I found it very convenient and helpful to follow some renowned scholars who are expertise in my research topic. Following their works will no doubt allow me to keep up with the most up-to-date research that is associated with my own research interests. Nonetheless, I do find that it have been a practical problem for  to spare enough time to have a look at the papers uploaded by scholars that I follow.

I agree that LinkedIn and Academia.edu are better online platforms for professional activities than Facebook. I personally consider Facebook as an everyday social network as their functions are designed for this purpose while Facebook is largely used as an everyday social networking tool.

Multiple Social Media Accounts and the Balance between Life and Work

This week 23 Things explored several social media with us. These social media includes Twitter, Flicker, Pinterest, Instagram and so forth.I have been using some of these for some time whilst registered with the others per the task of 23 Things. Please have a look of my different social media pages via the hyperlink should you be interested.

Thing 4 appeared to me striking since I have hardly thought of my social media accounts would be so easily reached by simply typing my name on Google (even my Airbnb accounts appeared!!!!). It really urges me to reconsider how to manage all my social media accounts as well as how to present myself on those social media where I intend to look professional.

The social media explored in Thing 5 and 6, albeit seem to be for everyday life sharing at first sight (and probably mainly used for this purpose by most), can in fact also be used by researchers to market themselves. Pinterest in particular seems fun to me in that some easy-to-understand image depicting complex research issues could be found. Flicker too is enjoyable to search whatever ‘keywords’ come into my mind. It is surprising how many high quality, among which some are carefully edited, one could find there. And the most amazing thing is that many of these photos are subtly ‘themed’.

In terms of using these social media as a researcher, however, I failed to picture myself any of them to promote my research, probably because they have been just part of my ‘non-professional’ daily social life (although I do not really use them quite often). But I do think I will consider to use some of them to strategically promote myself as a researcher in the near future. Twitter appears to be a good place to start as I have seen some ‘serious’ posts there. For instance, I have followed for quite a while some accounts associated with sustainable tourism and there have been some interesting and critical reports or comments from these accounts.

Nonetheless, from my perspective, the most challenging thing in managing multiple social media is not linking them all together but to separate them. In fact, it would seem easy to synchronise different social media accounts but that is likely to appear intimidating (at least for me :)) as it will be like one personal life being ‘robbed’ as one will restrict posting ‘non-professional’ on social media where one needs to professional. To separate the different accounts, however, would be a lot of work. Therefore, I think it would be helpful if 23 Things could provide some practical tips to balance work and personal life on social media.

Yet, someone cynical like me would think it is ironic that while both the potential employers and employees (including me sadly) understand better than anyone else that the so-called professional looking social media account is nothing more than a show to improve employability and can only tell little about the real person, but are still obsessed with it. I do insist that it would be better if both employers and employees could accept that all of us have an ‘unprofessional’ side. We may all enjoy a lazy weekend, like some celebrities (and like their posts) and do some crazy stuff every now and then, and would also like to share them through these social media. After all, Twitter and Instagram, unlike Academia and Linkin, are not specially designed for professional purpose.

My experiences with social media

Being from China, the early social media I was and still am in touch with are Chinese ones, including QQ, Weico, Wechat and Douban. Not until I started studying in the UK in 2013 I began to use Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

These social media for me so far are mainly tools to maintain my relationships with my families and friends. Therefore among all these social medias, my most frequently used ones are Wechat and Facebook. This former is for my families and friends from China and the latter one is for my foreign friends. There, however, is a increasingly fuzzy boundary between this dichotomy within my networks as some of my Chinese friends and foreign friends are like me using both of them.

Due to the large number of users, I understand that social media could be used as powerful instruments to promote oneself. For example, I myself follow some popular pages on Facebook and some public accounts on Wechat. Through 23 Things, I hope I could learn some skills about how to decently present and preferably effectively promote myself on these platforms. Furthermore, it also occurred to me that there are a plethora of social media, many of which I know little about. Thus, I also hope to explore some of these unfamiliar but useful online platforms through 23 Things.