At the 2014 ScienceOnlineTogether conference, I will be moderating a session focusing on how to use social media as a scientific research tool (2:30 P.M. on Friday, February 28th in room 3). The hashtag is #ScioResearch , so be sure to follow along, and I’ll make a Storify afterwards. This post is primarily intended to be a source of background information for participants in my session, though feel free to read, share and ask questions in the comments if you are not planning on participating in my session.
ScienceOnline community members understand the value of social media for collaborating with colleagues and communicating science to the public, but few think of the incredible resource that these tools are for scientific research. Hundreds of millions of people all over the world are constantly sharing their experiences and opinions in a format that is public, archived, searchable, and accessible, giving researchers access to this enormous dataset without the expense or logisitical difficulties involved in organizing a large-scale survey or series of focus groups. To use a technical term, for many types of scientific research, social media and “big data” is what is called “a freakin’ gold mine.”
Below are a few examples of how social media can be used for scientific research.
A year ago, David Shiffman published How to live-tweet a conference: A guide for conference organizers and twitter users, an informative and exhaustive guide to using twitter to help promote scientific conferences. Since then, I’m certain you’ve internalized his lessons and become a veteran of the science twitterverse. Now that you’re among the top twitter users in your field, it’s time to address how that changes the way you use twitter to interact with your peers.
How do you know if you’re a twitter veteran? There’s no real, concrete rule but, being that this is a guide for scientists, let’s say that a veteran twitter has significantly more followers than the average twitter user attending the conference. If you sampled the number of followers that each conference attendee on twitter had, you would fall outside of the 95% confidence interval. For a huge tech conference, this might mean you have hundreds of thousands, even millions of followers. For a small, regional conference in a relatively narrow field, this could be a couple of hundred followers.
Several users have e-mailed me about a weird .torrent file that automatically started downloading when thy loaded the mainpage. According to Business Insider, this is the result of a bug/exploit in twitter’s share buttons. For the moment, we have disabled all twitter sharing buttons on the site. Please contact me here if you continue to experience a suspicious download from Southern Fried Science.
As 16th Conference of the Parties of the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES COP16, pronounced sight-eze) comes to a close, I’d like to reflect on something that made this meeting unlike almost any other wildlife conservation and management meeting in history. Yes, history was made as delegates voted to list commercially exploited shark species for the first time, and history was made when manta rays became the first shark or ray species to be listed under CITES the first time they were proposed, and that’s all fantastic news. However, what I believe made CITES COP16 a game-changer for wildlife conservation and management was the large-scale inclusion of online outreach by both attendees and organizers. For the first time ever, interested members of the public from all over the world could follow along (and to some degree, participate) in real time.
At 7 AM EST on Monday, February 25, the ROV Isis rose from the depths of the Cayman Abyss, bringing to a close the 82nd cruise of the RRS James Cook. During JC82, we explored two recently discovered hydrothermal vents fields in the Cayman Trough: Von Damm, named for the late marine geochemist Karen Von Damm, and Beebe, named for the 20th century explorer William Beebe. By any measure, JC82 was a massive success. The samples and videos we’ll bring back will provide ecologists, geologists, and chemists with new insights into fundamental ocean systems for years. The images alone, some beautiful, some heart-breaking, have already inspired.
Eyeless shrimp, dancing anemones, and a garden of filamentous bacteria. I’m a pretty good writer, and I can’t even begin to describe how beautiful this is. Photo Credit: NERC
Since I last updated the blog on our adventures exploring the Cayman Trough, we’ve had a steady stream media coverage, most of which has been excellent, some of which has been… strange. It’s been fascinating watching the articles come out, seeing what different media outlets consider the story, and, most important to me, getting a chance to share our adventure with a wide audience. Now that the #DeepestVents cruise is officially over (and we’re in transit to yet another, equally exciting bolt on cruise to investigate submerged lava flows off the island of Montserrat), I thought it would be a good opportunity to reflect on the cruise, the story, and how the media shaped it.
A few of my colleagues recently came to me looking for advice on how to get started on twitter. Even for seasoned marine scientists who grew up during the internet revolution, establishing a twitter presence can be a daunting task. When used well, it provides a steady stream of news, commentary, and discussion that can provide broad insight into the current state of marine science and conservation. When used poorly, twitter can become a continuous, unrelenting torrent of irrelevant nonsense, punditry, and manufactured controversy. I put this guide together to provide a foundation for those interested in using twitter to engage with the Ocean Community.
There are several great basic guides on how to get started on twitter, so, rather than reinventing the wheel, here are a few of my favorite resources:
All of these guides have some good advice, but really, the best thing you can to get a feel for twitter is to create a personal account and play around for a week or two. Always start with a personal account. You’re going to make mistakes, faux pas, or perhaps accidentally tweet something that you’d wish you hadn’t. You don’t learn to ride a bike on a Pinarello Dogma 60.1 and you shouldn’t learn to use a new social media tool on an account that will be permenently linked to your online reputation.
Science is a conversation, and in 2011, a significant portion of that conversation happened on twitter. 2011 saw some fascinating new discoveries, bizarre assertions, disheartening revelations, and brilliant discussions. Twitter, it seems, is both a petri dish for nuggets of insight and an autoclave for steaming piles. So, without any further ado, here are the top 11 science hastags of 2011.
Last May, I attended the 2nd International Marine Conservation Congresss, an interdisciplinary conference that brought together scientists, NGOs, policymakers, and interested members of the general public. It was the largest professional meeting dedicated to saving the oceans in history, and it was an honor to be a part of it. In addition to seeing old friends and meeting some of my heroes, I took the opportunity to “live-Tweet” the talks I attended. Whenever a presenter made an important point, I summarized it in a Tweet, and, whenever possible, I included relevant hashtags (#Shark, #bycatch) and links to more information (either a website or published paper affiliated with the presenter, or one from a 3rd party working in the same field).
Southern Fried Science is on vacation! Once again, we’ll be taking a break from blogging during the month of December. Weekly dose of TED and Biodiversity Wednesday will continue (since they don’t require any work on our part). While we’re gone, please enjoy a selection of exclusive penguin videos shot by Antarctic Adventurer David Honig. Don’t forget to check out the Gam to catch up with the rest of the Southern Fried Science Network, follow us on twitter (Andrew, David, Amy), and subscribe to the Gam RSS feed for updates across the network. Regular posting will return in January.
In the mean time, consider this post an open thread to discuss anything about marine biology, graduate school, conservation, life in science, or just life in general. We’ll check in every so often.
Can’t last a month without the fry-off? Check out our favorite blogs, tweeps, and articles.