February 17, 2013

do scientists need social media? I know social media needs more science!

I've just joined a social media committee at the Academy for Eating Disorders and enjoying discussing the role of social media in science with others who are active in this way. Great example, the team is discussing this podcast on the topic, Do Scientists Need Social Media on a LinkedIn forum that is being Tweeted and +1 and liked on Facebook..

I know, scientists and clinicians are busy people and don't need to be wasting time on uneducated fluff, right? Yet plenty of scientists, and busy people, are finding social media more than just a time-sucking popularity contest. I see this in the ED world, where some of the brightest thinkers are as fluent in Facebook and Twitter as anyone.

Using social media to network with other scientists, spark conversations, popularize ideas, and learn from others is an underused, enormous, and largely free resource. Having to hear from folks about what your work means to them - rightly or wrongly - is important to remaining current in an interdisciplinary, global science environment. (Many people who have joined the world of social media didn't quite get that they would be hearing as well as speaking, and aren't always happy about the noise!)

I used to be more tolerant of the anti-Internet snobbery and condescension that plagues the topic. These days I tend to feel sorry for those who think it is an insult to say "Yes, well, I'm not on Facebook."

Not that everyone should be, but the assumption that there is nothing valuable there and that it is a higher moral position, or a sign of a busier or more important person, well: those days are gone.

3 comments:

  1. There are some fascinating theological debates on facebook these days too - along with the silly ones. Social Media is changing the speed of history, if not its course.

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  2. Honestly, if scientists didn't use social media - blogging, facebooking, linked-in-ing - I would miss out on a lot of stuff!

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