Radicals and reactionaries, Utopians and Luddites - round and round we argue in tedious circles about whether social media is worthwhile. The one thing we can agree on is that these tools are transforming the way information flows through society.
These dramatic shifts demand the attention of those who believe that science communication has the power to ward off misery, disease, and death. So when we debate, "Should every research be on twitter?" or "Does blogging help or hurt scientific careers?” the arguments we make matter deeply. On one hand, choosing not to engage carries its own costs and consequences. On the other, misdirecting precious hours of effort is a demoralizing waste. Worst of all, we might inadvertently do more harm than good by polarizing audiences, reinforcing misinformation, and politicizing research.
Given the high stakes of getting it wrong, science communicators and proponents need to be as rigorous in our approach to social media as we are in the science we share with them. I'll highlight recent research from communication, network science, and psychology to challenge common assumptions and arguments for (and against) social media. Together we’ll explore whether we can put some of old arguments to rest and sink our teeth into new ones.