Tuesday, July 07, 2009

End of term report

Report card At the beginning of the year I set myself a resolution:

At the risk of appearing smug, I'd give myself a pretty good report so far. So in the spirit of Gifted and Talented, I'm going to set myself an additional challenge:

Go after the twossers

Since the failure of Small Worlds, I've been pondering the way forward in promoting social media for scientific researchers. One possibility is to concede that "social media isn't for everyone" and simply talk to the receptive part of the audience. The problem with this approach is that as these technologies continue to gain traction, it will simply create a digital underclass, so the problem has to be tackled head on.

Although Martin Weller's post Arguments for social media engagement was not directly about the scientific research community, his list of responses to the objectors is highly relevant:
  • The argument of recognition
  • The argument of simplicity
  • The argument of benefit
  • The argument of imperative
It's an interesting list, but for most of the hardcore lab researchers I talk to, it's still going to be a very hard sell. Recognition? Impact factors. Simplicity? Not enough hours in the day. Benefit? Always managed without it, danger of revealing "secret" data. Imperative? I can make this argument with regard to teaching - how can you ask students to keep a reflective portfolio if you don't - but it's harder with researchers.

This is the task I've set myself in the run-up to Science Online London.