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Talking Dogs and Galileian Blogs
I like
cheese
Chad Orzel
Social Media for Communicating Science
http://scienceblogs.com/p...
http://www.cbsnews.com/news/ebola-panic-in-us-spreading-much-faster-
than-disease/
http://www.business2community.com/world-news/map-offers-new-
perspective-ebola-crisis-africa-01056783
http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-
health/wp/2015/02/09/measles-outbreak-spreads-to-three-more-states-121-
people...
http://www.forbes.com/sites/tarahaelle/2015/03/16/yes-low-immunization-
rates-are-responsible-for-the-measles-outbreak-stu...
http://www.slate.com/blogs/future_tense/2015/02/26/inhofe_throws_a_snowball_on_
senate_floor_to_disprove_global_warming_vi...
http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/10/03/3575849/not-a-scientist/
Everyone who denies man-made climate change has the same
stirring message: “We don’t know what the f*$k we’re talking
abou...
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/03
/03/francis-colliins-nih-
funding_n_6795900.html
http://www.ibtimes.com/us-budget-cu...
Who Should We Blame?
Who caused the disconnect between science and general public?
Politicians?
Tempting, but no…
Religion...
Look
Think
Test
Tell
What Is Science?
Science is a process for learning about the world:
1) Look at the world
2) Make up a theory
3) Test your ...
1045 Total Citations
7632 Total Citations
Newtonian Publication
Most famous work:
Philosophiae Naturalis
Principia Mathematica
(published 1687)
Written in Latin, hi...
http://msquacksphysics.weebly.com/uploads/1/0/9/7/10974238/3850046.jpg
<2,200 Students <13,000 Students
Twitter
>3,000 Followers
<2,200 Students
<13,000 Students
>13,900 Followers
Galileian Publication
Most famous work:
Dialogue Concerning the
Two Chief World Systems
(published 1632)
Written in vernac...
Results
Outcomes of different publication models:
Lesson of History:
Newtonian Publication Is Better For Your Career
Newto...
http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/2014/10/i_m_not_a_scientist_
excuse_politicians_don_t_need_to_be_...
http://www.theguardian.com/science/occams-
corner/2015/jan/09/demoralisation-in-the-ranks-of-researchers
So You Want to Be Galileo…
How do you go about communicating science to the general public?
No single, foolproof method
Ha...
Social Media: Pro
Advantages:
1) Easy to do, huge audience
 Just sign up, start using
 Millions of daily users
Social Media: Pro
Advantages:
1) Easy to do, huge audience
2) Social media are social
 Reach people in ways
more formal c...
Social Media: Con
Disadvantages:
1) Easy to do, huge audience
 Trolls, cranks, racist
relatives
 Controversial issues ca...
Social Media: Con
Disadvantages:
1) Easy to do, huge audience
 Impossible to predict
what will catch on
2) Social media a...
Nobody Has to Be Galileo
Advantages:
1) Easy to do, huge audience
2) Social media are social
Disadvantages:
1) Easy to do,...
Blogs
“Blog” (short for “web log”)
Regularly updated personal site
Short essays, pictures, links to
other pages of interes...
Science Blogs
My own preferred channel…
Blogging since 2002, at
scienceblogs.com since
2006
Uncertain Principles
“Physics,...
Science Blogs
http://scienceblogs.com/principles/
My own preferred channel…
Blogging since 2002, at
scienceblogs.com since...
http://backreaction.blogspot.com/
http://www.preposterousuniverse.com/blog/
http://www.wired.com/author/rhettallain/
ScienceSeeker
http://scienceseeker.org/
Twitter
Short messages– 140-character limit
Advantages
Short, fast-moving –
“Live” experience
Very informal atmosphere,
co...
Science in 140 Characters
Twitter:
Popular with
journalists/
science writers
Fast-moving,
but can be very
useful
Live back...
SciStuChat
Twitter education: chats
Example: #SciStuChat
Q&A with scientists on
Twitter, HS students
Organized by Adam
Tay...
Dinosaurs and Baseball
New media, new communications opportunities…
Facebook
Facebook “Pages”
Advantages:
Enormous audience, easy
to use
Disadvantages:
Walled garden– hard to
see what people...
Video
YouTube “Channels”
Advantages:
Video = kilowords
Disadvantages:
Doing video well
requires technical,
artistic skills...
Social Media for Science
Powerful tools, if interested
Choose channel that suits
your skills/talents
Connect with enormous...
What About the Dog?
Emmy, Queen of Niskayuna
January, 2007:
“Bunnies Made of Cheese”
Imaginary conversation
about QED
Dram...
Many Worlds, Many Treats
I'm sitting at the computer typing, when
the dog bumps up against my legs. I look
down, and she's...
Bunnies Made of Cheese: The Book
“Many Worlds, Many Treats” linked by Boing Boing, Digg
 more than 50,000 readers
Contact...
What to Do?
State of the world demands better public
engagement
For communicators:
Social media provide tools to reach
mas...
Talking Dogs and Galileian Blogs: Social Media for Communicating Science
Talking Dogs and Galileian Blogs: Social Media for Communicating Science
Talking Dogs and Galileian Blogs: Social Media for Communicating Science
Talking Dogs and Galileian Blogs: Social Media for Communicating Science
Talking Dogs and Galileian Blogs: Social Media for Communicating Science
Talking Dogs and Galileian Blogs: Social Media for Communicating Science
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Talking Dogs and Galileian Blogs: Social Media for Communicating Science

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Slides from my Forman Lecture talk at Vanderbilt University 3/26/15. Arguing that the current state of the world demands greater engagement with a broader public on the part of scientists, and that social media can be a powerful tool for this. Including discussion of pros and cons of specific platforms, and advice based on 12+ years of talking science on the Internet, sometimes with my dog.

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Talking Dogs and Galileian Blogs: Social Media for Communicating Science

  1. 1. Talking Dogs and Galileian Blogs I like cheese Chad Orzel Social Media for Communicating Science http://scienceblogs.com/principles/ 2 x p  
  2. 2. http://www.cbsnews.com/news/ebola-panic-in-us-spreading-much-faster- than-disease/
  3. 3. http://www.business2community.com/world-news/map-offers-new- perspective-ebola-crisis-africa-01056783
  4. 4. http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your- health/wp/2015/02/09/measles-outbreak-spreads-to-three-more-states-121- people-now-affected/
  5. 5. http://www.forbes.com/sites/tarahaelle/2015/03/16/yes-low-immunization- rates-are-responsible-for-the-measles-outbreak-study-suggests/
  6. 6. http://www.slate.com/blogs/future_tense/2015/02/26/inhofe_throws_a_snowball_on_ senate_floor_to_disprove_global_warming_video.html
  7. 7. http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/10/03/3575849/not-a-scientist/
  8. 8. Everyone who denies man-made climate change has the same stirring message: “We don’t know what the f*$k we’re talking about.” -- Stephen Colbert, November 2014
  9. 9. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/03 /03/francis-colliins-nih- funding_n_6795900.html http://www.ibtimes.com/us-budget-cuts-lead-new- foundation-seek-private-donors-basic-science- funding-1848592
  10. 10. Who Should We Blame? Who caused the disconnect between science and general public? Politicians? Tempting, but no… Religion? Lots of religious scientists Teachers? Doing the best they can… My claim: WE HAVE FAILED AT OUR JOBS AS SCIENTISTS
  11. 11. Look
  12. 12. Think
  13. 13. Test
  14. 14. Tell
  15. 15. What Is Science? Science is a process for learning about the world: 1) Look at the world 2) Make up a theory 3) Test your theory 4) Tell everyone about it Find some interesting phenomenon to explain Develop a model to explain the phenomenon Design experiments, make observations to test model Publication, dissemination, replication Where Things Break Down
  16. 16. 1045 Total Citations
  17. 17. 7632 Total Citations
  18. 18. Newtonian Publication Most famous work: Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica (published 1687) Written in Latin, highly technical, highly mathematical Deliberately difficult, “to avoid being baited by little smatterers in mathematicks” (Hat-tip: Robert Krulwich, WNYC RadioLab) Isaac Newton (1642-1726)
  19. 19. http://msquacksphysics.weebly.com/uploads/1/0/9/7/10974238/3850046.jpg
  20. 20. <2,200 Students <13,000 Students
  21. 21. Twitter >3,000 Followers <2,200 Students
  22. 22. <13,000 Students >13,900 Followers
  23. 23. Galileian Publication Most famous work: Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems (published 1632) Written in vernacular, dialogue between three characters Witty, accessible, highly readable, and persuasive Widely read and influential Galileo Galilei(1564-1642)
  24. 24. Results Outcomes of different publication models: Lesson of History: Newtonian Publication Is Better For Your Career Newton Galileo: Master of the Mint The Inquisition
  25. 25. http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/2014/10/i_m_not_a_scientist_ excuse_politicians_don_t_need_to_be_experts_to_make.html
  26. 26. http://www.theguardian.com/science/occams- corner/2015/jan/09/demoralisation-in-the-ranks-of-researchers
  27. 27. So You Want to Be Galileo… How do you go about communicating science to the general public? No single, foolproof method Have to find what works for you Similar to asking “How do you write a bestselling novel?” As many strategies as there are popularizers Can suggest some general tools and approaches NOTE: Not about “dumbing down” or condescending to audience Ways to make real science appealing to non-scientists
  28. 28. Social Media: Pro Advantages: 1) Easy to do, huge audience  Just sign up, start using  Millions of daily users
  29. 29. Social Media: Pro Advantages: 1) Easy to do, huge audience 2) Social media are social  Reach people in ways more formal channels don’t  Provide community for communicators
  30. 30. Social Media: Con Disadvantages: 1) Easy to do, huge audience  Trolls, cranks, racist relatives  Controversial issues can lead to ugly situations
  31. 31. Social Media: Con Disadvantages: 1) Easy to do, huge audience  Impossible to predict what will catch on 2) Social media are social  Requires engagement and networking for success
  32. 32. Nobody Has to Be Galileo Advantages: 1) Easy to do, huge audience 2) Social media are social Disadvantages: 1) Easy to do, huge audience 2) Social media are social Important: NOT FOR EVERYONE Requires particular skills right personality Also: TOTALLY OPTIONAL
  33. 33. Blogs “Blog” (short for “web log”) Regularly updated personal site Short essays, pictures, links to other pages of interest “A Directory of Wonderful Things” (tag line of Boing Boing, but could serve generally) Best-known blogs deal with politics, gadgets, celebrity gossip Also blogs about science…
  34. 34. Science Blogs My own preferred channel… Blogging since 2002, at scienceblogs.com since 2006 Uncertain Principles “Physics, Politics, Pop Culture” Built up regular audience ~2,000 views (good day) HIGHLY variable
  35. 35. Science Blogs http://scienceblogs.com/principles/ My own preferred channel… Blogging since 2002, at scienceblogs.com since 2006 Advantages: Infinite space to deal with complex topics, issues Disadvantages: Can be hard to get people to read long posts
  36. 36. http://backreaction.blogspot.com/
  37. 37. http://www.preposterousuniverse.com/blog/
  38. 38. http://www.wired.com/author/rhettallain/
  39. 39. ScienceSeeker http://scienceseeker.org/
  40. 40. Twitter Short messages– 140-character limit Advantages Short, fast-moving – “Live” experience Very informal atmosphere, conversational medium Disadvantages Short, fast-moving – deliberately ephemeral Very large, eclectic audience
  41. 41. Science in 140 Characters Twitter: Popular with journalists/ science writers Fast-moving, but can be very useful Live backchannel for conferences, breaking news
  42. 42. SciStuChat Twitter education: chats Example: #SciStuChat Q&A with scientists on Twitter, HS students Organized by Adam Taylor (Overton HS, Nashville) Connect students with scientists in cheap, easy way Also: #ITeachPhysics Prof. development
  43. 43. Dinosaurs and Baseball New media, new communications opportunities…
  44. 44. Facebook Facebook “Pages” Advantages: Enormous audience, easy to use Disadvantages: Walled garden– hard to see what people say Newsfeed manipulation– don’t know who you’re reaching
  45. 45. Video YouTube “Channels” Advantages: Video = kilowords Disadvantages: Doing video well requires technical, artistic skills Fun to do, but difficult, slow
  46. 46. Social Media for Science Powerful tools, if interested Choose channel that suits your skills/talents Connect with enormous audience Build constituency for science Stumble into further amazing opportunities
  47. 47. What About the Dog? Emmy, Queen of Niskayuna January, 2007: “Bunnies Made of Cheese” Imaginary conversation about QED Dramatic Reading: (CNET Buzz Podcast, ~2min) The dog is standing at the window, wagging her tail excitedly. I look outside, and the back yard is empty. "What are you looking at?" I ask. "Bunnies made of cheese!," she says. I look again, and the yard is still empty.
  48. 48. Many Worlds, Many Treats I'm sitting at the computer typing, when the dog bumps up against my legs. I look down, and she's sniffing the floor around my feet intently. "What are you doing down there?“ "I'm looking for steak!" she says, wagging her tail hopefully. "I'm pretty certain that there's no steak down there," I say. "I've never eaten steak at the computer, and I've certainly never dropped any on the floor.“ "You did in some universe," she says, still sniffing. May 2007:
  49. 49. Bunnies Made of Cheese: The Book “Many Worlds, Many Treats” linked by Boing Boing, Digg  more than 50,000 readers Contacted by agent  Book proposal, bought by Scribner Popular audience book on quantum physics, mixing dog conversations with explanations for humans Published December 22, 2009 Extreme example, but illustrates general principle Use blogs to promote science produce new opportunities for outreach
  50. 50. What to Do? State of the world demands better public engagement For communicators: Social media provide tools to reach mass audience Easy to try, see what works for you For others: Recognize, support, reward communication as essential Let Galileo be Galileo

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