Social media for science writers
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Social media for science writers: a class at UC Santa Cruz, May 4, 2010

Social media for science writers: a class at UC Santa Cruz, May 4, 2010

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Social media for science writers Social media for science writers Presentation Transcript

  • UCSC science writing program
    May 4, 2010
    David harris
    @physicsdavid
    SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory
    and
    Symmetry Magazine
    Social media for science writers
  • Your social media use
    Who in this room does each of these?
    uses facebook
    uses twitter
    uses LinkedIn
    has a blog
    is in some specialist social network
    uses social bookmarking
    regularly posts video/audio?
  • Why care about social media?
    Our trade is information
    Information is flowing in new ways due to social media
    We need to understand those ways to take advantage of them
    It gives us new ways to think about what we do
  • Evolution of Information Ecosystems
    Authority relationships
    Trust relationships
    Personal networks
    Trusted authorities
  • The secret life of social media
    Key points:
    It often doesn’t work the way you imagine or the way it claims to
    It can be quite complicated and you really need to understand it to take advantage of it
    Social bookmarking as a case study
    See a full presentation on this from NASW 2009 at: http://bit.ly/9dip5J
  • Fundamental rule of social media
    It’s just a tool
    or
    It’s a tactic not a strategy
    or
    The technology is not the sociology
  • Corollary of the fundamental rule
    Social media is often not about the content itself: It is often the meta-content or the distribution
    Social media offers a chance for you to be entrepreneurial in reaching new audiences
    You’ve written the story, now get it to the people
    Social media can be particularly useful to science writers as science interest is a non-geographically-specified niche.
  • Use the right tool for the right purpose
    Q: When would you use a facebook status update vs twitter update?
    Q: What’s the main difference between facebook and MySpace?
    Q: Why would you blog with LiveJournalvs Blogger vsWordPressvs … ?
    Q: What’s the difference between email and a twitter stream?
    Q: How do individuals matter in social media?
  • It’s the community, stupid
    The use of social media tools is inextricably linked with the kinds of communities you wish to include, create, connect with, or be part of.
    The sociology is not really new in most cases. However, the power of the tools is much greater.
    There is a loose community of science fans who previously could only coalesce around popular science magazines. What does social media offer?
  • Journalists’ concerns
    How does a journalist navigate the private-public spectrum that replaces the old private/public separation? (Risks and opportunities.)
    What is happening to the gatekeeper role of journalism? (Middleman problem. The importance of filters.)
    Can journalists beat the sources to breaking news any more? (The role of scoops. Scientists who blog.)
    What value does a journalist add? (Will “just the facts” cut it? Content vs. context vs. analysis)
  • Business models
    Like old media, still predominantly ad-based
    This means, it’s all about eyeballs on ads, and therefore about boosting traffic
    Increased traffic is used as a proxy for just about everything else, but how valid is that? Does it matter if it’s valid?
    Some new models appearing
    Content is a loss leader in the form of community building. Monetized through other options, such as events. Example: thebolditalic.com
    Relying on sources for content such as Journalism/PIO partnerships. Example: US News & World Report/NSF
  • 10 uses of social media for science writers
    Finding/tracking breaking events
    Reporting on events as rapidly as possible
    Observing remote events/conferences
    Participating in remote events/conferences
    Finding ideas and commissioning stories
    Finding sources
    Building community (among peers & readers)
    “Meeting” new people -> meeting new people
    Hearing about useful events
    Spreading ideas, generating secondary pickup/stories
  • Adoption of social media by science writers
    Where are the science writers’ social networks?
    Why are science writers so slow to adopt social media and so resistant to it?
    How will you cope with being seen as the expert on social media in your next job, just because you are young?
  • Planning social media strategies
    Remember the fundamental rule: it’s a tactic not a strategy
    As a tactic, you should experiment to see what works. If it works, keep it up (at least until something changes). If not, abandon it (at least until something changes).
    Cost of failure is low if you haven’t invested lots of time. The tech makes it easy to do without large time investments.
    A social media plan should naturally derive from a communications plan. It shouldn’t take long to plan.
  • Collaboration
    An insufficiently answered question: How can science journalists use social media for collaboration?
    Tools of social media allow for easier blending of different media types
    Collaborative workspaces share many features of social networks
    Tools for other social media can be put to collaborative use in science writing. (e.g. Google Wave)
    Given the technical nature of much science writing, many questions arise for readers. How can social media help with this?
  • Old media recommendations
    Books:
    Clay Shirky, Here Comes Everybody, 2008
    Jeff Howe, Crowdsourcing, 2008
    Lewis Hyde, The Gift, 1979
    Mancur Olson, The Logic of Collective Action, 1965
  • Some new media recommendations
    Twitter: @physicsdavid/forsciencewritingstudents
    Web:
    www.mashable.com
    www.zephoria.org/thoughts
    ksjtracker.mit.edu
    www.niemanlab.org
    www.cjr.org/the_observatory
    How do you want me to share good links/resources?
  • Other stuff
    Some stuff from me:
    Secret life of social media (slides+audio): http://bit.ly/9dip5J
    What does twitter mean for breaking news stories? The ISS near-collision case study: http://bit.ly/bz6wEk
    Some recent articles:
    Who’s using twitter? http://bit.ly/aLbcTf
    How Freelancers are Using Social Media for Real Results http://bit.ly/b0be4m
  • During this class
    Who has read some form of social media in this class?
    Who has updated some form of social media in this class?
    Who had the urge to either read or post during the class?