I signed up for my Twitter account about two years ago, and then realized that I didn’t really want to let the world know what TV show I was watching, or what my daughter was having for breakfast. I didn’t see the use until noticing that I could follow news stories in real time, keep up with friends, and get updates from professional meetings. But it was not until I started working on this blog again recently that I realized how many scientists are using the platform to disseminate information and network with each other. Oh, and promote their blogs too.
It might just be the timing or my naiveté, but it seems like Twitter and science are in a fast growth phase. Some evidence?:
- BoraZ just participated in a widely reported session on social media in science at the recent AAAS meeting, where he warned scientists that Twitter, or something similar, will become as common as email for communication between scientists.
- The Twitter hashtag (#) is a great way to aggregate tweets on specific topics. These hashtags are often used to make tweets from a specific meeting searchable, like the recent AAAS meeting. Dr. Isis recently started an impressive meme tagged #scienceconfessions, that became a virtual tweetup, an opportunity to meet new scientists, and incredibly funny. A must-read for all the young scientists out there so that you know what you are getting in to.
- My experience is that only relatively old people use Twitter. My undergraduate students don’t. But Dale Basler recently posted on his high school students using the platform during field trips.
- And NerdyChristie riveted the science twittosphere with her live account of the Hawaii tsunami.
And this past weekend I had my first, prolonged, real time Twitter discussion on academic science careers. Very interesting, lots of fun, and I picked up some new followers and made a great new contact. But one worry – how do you handle the volume of messages? Now, I feel like if I am not monitoring my Twitter stream, I will miss something. Besides the blogs I try to follow, this is another set of information to keep on top of.
So, we will see how it goes. Will I keep with it? Don’t know. But I am looking forward to tweeting from the upcoming Fort Lauderdale eye meeting this May.