When I created an Instagram account in 2015 for the PhD Program in Hispanic and Luso-Brazilian Literatures and Languages, I admit, I didn’t really know what I was doing. Instagram was a fairly unknown platform for me, despite its wide use among Millenials and in our program. Being so different than the two social media platforms we were already using in the program—Facebook and Twitter—proceeding in much the same way as on those was not practical or yielding results, although I tried.
In a nutshell, Instagram is a photo-sharing application for mobile devices, and because it has maintained this identity throughout its growth, Instagram has purposeful limitations that make it a less-than-ideal platform for the announcing of upcoming events, calls for papers, directing users to more information, pre-scheduling posts, etc. In short, the social media strategy applied to our Facebook and Twitter accounts was not an effective Instagram strategy. And the account sat, mostly unused, for many months of the year.
Several weeks ago, I joined Instagram myself, partially because I wanted an outlet for the pictures I like to take while running in the city and partially because a friend of mine adopted a puppy and shared adorable puppy photos on Instagram daily. And also partially because I thought that through using the platform personally, I’d be more prepared to tackle it as a Social Media Fellow. After several weeks of personal Instagram use and browsing through the often quotidian, often captivating photos of others with their witty hashtags, I was struck with an idea. Actually, the idea is not mine, but I remembered that the Twitter account, @sweden, has a new Swede Tweeter every week. I thought this model, called Rotation Curation, would be particularly interesting, novel, and a more fruitful use of the program’s Instagram account.
The intention of Rotation Curation on Instagram is to use the platform not so much as an account broadcasting news and upcoming events from our program, but rather keeping in line with its strengths showcasing spontaneously captured photos rather than planned images and information. The first Rotation Curation post on our account is mine: an adorable minor frustration during my dissertation writing.
As the curation of the program’s Instagram account moves throughout the members of the HLBLL community, we will have glimpses into the lives of students from the first year to their last, taking classes, preparing for exams, teaching on various CUNY campuses, writing dissertations, organizing and attending events, looking up in awe at the Midtown skyline.
On Instagram, the everyday moments, such as a weekly class…
…are given as much weight as a lecture in our spring Colloquia Series.
We are now beginning our third week of this Rotation Curation experiment. New curators announce their guardianship of the account in its profile and I have encouraged each one to invent their own hashtag signature for their posts.
And so I invite you to follow the HLBLL Instagram account and check out all that this Rotation Curation experiment has to offer.
Prospective Students! It’s a window into our program!
Graduate Center community! We’re having fun and working hard!
HLBLL PhD Candidates! Feel nostalgia for first exam preparation!
HLBLL Level 1 Students! Your dissertation-writing colleagues are scarcely seen but churning out the pages!
HLBLL students, future Instagram curators of all PhD levels are wanted for weeks starting April 10th. No personal Instagram account is required: just a willingness to download the app on your smartphone. If you are interested, send me a message: jprince[at]gradcenter[dot]cuny[dot]edu.