I created my Twitter account in the spring of 2009. Back then, science blogging was new and we all though that using pseudonyms for anonymity was the pragmatic and cool thing to do. Southern Friend Science had been cooking for over a year at that point, and we were excited about the near-limitless potential of the social web.
Blogs were still king, with Deep Sea News, and Oyster’s Garter, and Malaria, Bedbugs, Sealice, and Sunsets and myriad others speaking up for the oceans, online. But this isn’t a history of ocean science bloggers, this is a history of Ocean Science Twitter.
Those early days were, more than anything, fun. We were still finding our voices and finding our communities. David joined soon after and the rest of the core Ocean’s Online crew arrived soon after. We were live-tweeting experiments, sharing hypotheses, planning research projects, starting collaborations, forming communities.
Twitter is gone now, replaced by the impersonal X, not just a new brand name, but a reminder that you should close that tab. Since its acquisition by Elon Musk, the once-vibrant site has been slowly gutted, transformed into a desperate grab for cash from subscribers and an endless sea of paid content. But if this last year has been a tale of slow decline, this last few weeks have been the final death roll. The rebrand to X was bad, but far, far worse was the protection, promotion, and financial compensation of a user who posted explicit child sexual abuse material. There’s nothing left of the Twitter that was.
Everything changed for Ocean Science Twitter on April 20, 2010, when the Macondo oil well rupture, setting the Deepwater Horizon aflame. Eleven oil rig workers died and 200 million gallon of crude oil poured into the Gulf of Mexico. The community mobilized quickly to provide critical context and public outreach as the disaster stretched from days to months. Ocean scientists on Twitter were positioned to respond to media queries and act as expert sources, but beyond the communications push, scientific collaborations emerged from these very large, very public discussions. As one example, we determined that I had some of the most recent pre-spill sediment samples from the areas near the disasters and identified the right researchers to work up those samples and provide a necessary baseline for understand the scope and scale of the spill.Read More