Academics Online?

“Who is the online you – hand-coded pages of hobbies and family photos, terse departmental entries or slickly branded media portals? Zoe Corbyn surveys the world of academics’ personal websites

Like countless other academics, David Gauntlett has a perfectly functional departmental home page. Buried inside his university’s web presence, you can find the University of Westminster professor of media and communications’ biography, contact details and list of publications next to a semi-smiling headshot. His institution’s logo appears in the top left corner.

But go to his personal website , located firmly outside the university sphere, and he comes alive. Here you can peruse his current projects, check his Twitter feed and blog posts or view his latest drawings. If you happen to click on a mention of his son, you can even watch a video of the toddler interacting with a passing train.

“It seems only natural and rational that an active academic would want to have a website and to make it as full and as interesting as possible,” Gauntlett says.

He is part of a growing global band of academics who supplement their standard departmental online profiles with web presences outside the university domain. Despite the rise of Twitter, Facebook and blogs, such personal/professional websites are an important avenue for scholars to showcase their work and themselves in the digital world.

“It is not the case for everybody, but there certainly is a growing tranche of people who are actively making sure that they have their own domain name and complete control over their own digital identity,” says Melissa Terras, a senior lecturer in electronic communication at University College London who studies how academics use the web.”

See full story in Times Higher Ed.