Social media in science

1 minute read

Last month, Virginia Gewin put an article in Nature about social media and science, which is now available online for free: “Social media: Self-reflection, online”.

The Internet is markedly changing how science and scientists are perceived. Publications are lauded or rebuked in the Twittersphere (see Nature 469, 286287; 2011), and leaked e-mails can escalate into political controversy, as in the case of 'climategate' (see Nature 468, 345; 2010). Scientists can also now engage with the public in new and innovative ways, as demonstrated by a researcher who was contacted about his ancestry after publishing his genome on the Internet (see Nature 468, 880881; 2010). Even if you never pay attention to the online world and don't want anything to do with it, it's bleeding into your real life, says Liz Neeley, the Seattle-based assistant director of science outreach at the Communication Partnership for Science and the Sea, an organization that helps scientists to engage with the public.

Gewin spoke to several blogging and tweeting scientists, and I get to play a small part as the voice of moderation. A range of people at different career stages get a few words to describe how blogging and social media fit into their strategy.

Along similar lines is an article from The Scientist late last year: “You aren’t blogging yet?” It’s sort of a howto featuring Bora Zivkovic and Jonathan Eisen, among others.

Science is a realm in which many highly motivated and smart people are competing for a limited number of jobs. There are many ways to put your work forward, and blogging can be one of them. I never discount that the biggest factor is luck. But 90 percent of luck is standing in the right place at the right time. The beauty of a blog is that it’s standing there waiting all the time for the right person to look.