Science in 140 characters

I never had any interest in cell phones let alone Twitter before taking this job last September. But between leaving California and joining PPEM I gained an iPhone. I dig my photophone in part because of its phone-saving pink and turquoise Otter Box and attached Steelie (Thanks Drew for knowing that I was going to need both). With phone in hand, it was only a matter of time before I began to seek ways to get out the word of the great accomplishments of PPEM. I took the leap into Twitter in December with my first post of Dr. Patreese Ingram buying poinsettias from the CoAS greenhouse sale. My most recent post was of Sara Klee’s newly announced honors. Information about her achievements went out on Twitter first, followed by posting in the From the Bull Penn memo (below), and will soon make it to our website news page. APS has already re-tweeted the message for other plant pathologists to read.

As I imagined Twitter is a great way to share information about our department, but I had no idea it would actually increase the scientific reading that I do. I am a bit appalled by the impact it is having on my science. I now read many more abstracts from papers because of Twitter. It has even led me to a few articles that I have read start to finish. @pseudomonaspapers is one of my favorite bots to follow. #365Papers is a great wayScreen Shot 2016-03-13 at 1.18.32 PM to encourage yourself to read a journal article a day. Chris Smyth is working his way through and a few that he has posted have been really interesting to me.

“To do science, you have to know what’s going on in science,” Jonathan Eisen University of California, Davis (24,900 followers) says. “I found Twitter…most useful for becoming informed of what other people are doing in science.” Geneticist Eric Topol of the Scripps Research Institute in San Diego, California (44,800 followers) thinks “It actually may be the most valuable time [I spend] in terms of learning things that are going on in the world of science and medicine.”

In addition to advertising the great things your lab does and keeping up with a broader literature, why else might you want to follow Twitter? In a recent article where scientists were asked why they use twitter the following were given as answers:

  • New collegial relationships
  • Expanded collection of trusted experts for advice, help, knowledge, and collaboration,
  • Cross disciplinary synergy
  • Quick answers and references from peers
  • Builds camaraderie before you meet in person
  • Virtual water cooler
  • Eavesdropping on informative people
  • Helps keep the public informed about science
  • Tweets of your scientific paper may be one measure of scholarly impact in the future

I would add that it has been an excellent way to follow support for our plight in the budget impasse #SavePSUAg

You might ask, Why would I waste my time on Twitter rather than write more papers? Well, we should all write the papers we have sitting in our dockets as quickly as possible. But sometimes we need to unwind. Some do it by playing music, by taking a walk in the woods, others by watching TV, and some by Twitter. For me I use Twitter when I am waiting for something. But if you feel compelled to stop your work to check your social media feed frequently, you might consider giving yourself specific times and time limits for these communication tools. After all, we want to have lots of great things to write about!

Now that I have a feel for how to use Twitter my next step is to set up an official PPEM Twitter account. I also want to create a bot to post plant pathology, phytobiome and microbial ecology publications related to work in our department. Anyone want to help? I also want to make sure that I am following everyone in the department. If you have and use a Twitter account, please consider post something with a @Buckhout_Bull tag so I can find and follow you!

Here is to the next post being only 140 characters!


P.S. Here are two important hashtags for your future posts. #PSUPPEM  #SavePSUAg



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