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Social media for science writers


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

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Social media for science writers

  1. 1. UCSC science writing program<br />May 4, 2010<br />David harris<br />@physicsdavid<br />SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory<br />and<br />Symmetry Magazine<br />Social media for science writers<br />
  2. 2. Your social media use<br />Who in this room does each of these?<br />uses facebook<br />uses twitter<br />uses LinkedIn<br />has a blog<br />is in some specialist social network<br />uses social bookmarking<br />regularly posts video/audio?<br />
  3. 3. Why care about social media?<br />Our trade is information<br />Information is flowing in new ways due to social media<br />We need to understand those ways to take advantage of them<br />It gives us new ways to think about what we do<br />
  4. 4. Evolution of Information Ecosystems<br />Authority relationships<br />Trust relationships<br />Personal networks<br />Trusted authorities<br />
  5. 5. The secret life of social media<br />Key points:<br />It often doesn’t work the way you imagine or the way it claims to<br />It can be quite complicated and you really need to understand it to take advantage of it<br />Social bookmarking as a case study<br />See a full presentation on this from NASW 2009 at:<br />
  6. 6. Fundamental rule of social media<br />It’s just a tool<br />or<br />It’s a tactic not a strategy<br />or<br />The technology is not the sociology<br />
  7. 7. Corollary of the fundamental rule<br />Social media is often not about the content itself: It is often the meta-content or the distribution<br />Social media offers a chance for you to be entrepreneurial in reaching new audiences<br />You’ve written the story, now get it to the people<br />Social media can be particularly useful to science writers as science interest is a non-geographically-specified niche.<br />
  8. 8. Use the right tool for the right purpose<br />Q: When would you use a facebook status update vs twitter update?<br />Q: What’s the main difference between facebook and MySpace?<br />Q: Why would you blog with LiveJournalvs Blogger vsWordPressvs … ?<br />Q: What’s the difference between email and a twitter stream?<br />Q: How do individuals matter in social media?<br />
  9. 9. It’s the community, stupid<br />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.<br />The sociology is not really new in most cases. However, the power of the tools is much greater.<br />There is a loose community of science fans who previously could only coalesce around popular science magazines. What does social media offer?<br />
  10. 10. Journalists’ concerns<br />How does a journalist navigate the private-public spectrum that replaces the old private/public separation? (Risks and opportunities.)<br />What is happening to the gatekeeper role of journalism? (Middleman problem. The importance of filters.)<br />Can journalists beat the sources to breaking news any more? (The role of scoops. Scientists who blog.)<br />What value does a journalist add? (Will “just the facts” cut it? Content vs. context vs. analysis)<br />
  11. 11. Business models<br />Like old media, still predominantly ad-based<br />This means, it’s all about eyeballs on ads, and therefore about boosting traffic<br />Increased traffic is used as a proxy for just about everything else, but how valid is that? Does it matter if it’s valid?<br />Some new models appearing<br />Content is a loss leader in the form of community building. Monetized through other options, such as events. Example:<br />Relying on sources for content such as Journalism/PIO partnerships. Example: US News & World Report/NSF<br />
  12. 12. 10 uses of social media for science writers<br />Finding/tracking breaking events<br />Reporting on events as rapidly as possible<br />Observing remote events/conferences<br />Participating in remote events/conferences<br />Finding ideas and commissioning stories<br />Finding sources<br />Building community (among peers & readers)<br />“Meeting” new people -> meeting new people<br />Hearing about useful events<br />Spreading ideas, generating secondary pickup/stories<br />
  13. 13. Adoption of social media by science writers <br />Where are the science writers’ social networks? <br />Why are science writers so slow to adopt social media and so resistant to it?<br />How will you cope with being seen as the expert on social media in your next job, just because you are young?<br />
  14. 14. Planning social media strategies<br />Remember the fundamental rule: it’s a tactic not a strategy<br />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).<br />Cost of failure is low if you haven’t invested lots of time. The tech makes it easy to do without large time investments.<br />A social media plan should naturally derive from a communications plan. It shouldn’t take long to plan.<br />
  15. 15. Collaboration<br />An insufficiently answered question: How can science journalists use social media for collaboration?<br />Tools of social media allow for easier blending of different media types<br />Collaborative workspaces share many features of social networks<br />Tools for other social media can be put to collaborative use in science writing. (e.g. Google Wave)<br />Given the technical nature of much science writing, many questions arise for readers. How can social media help with this?<br />
  16. 16. Old media recommendations<br />Books:<br />Clay Shirky, Here Comes Everybody, 2008<br />Jeff Howe, Crowdsourcing, 2008<br />Lewis Hyde, The Gift, 1979<br />Mancur Olson, The Logic of Collective Action, 1965<br />
  17. 17. Some new media recommendations<br />Twitter: @physicsdavid/forsciencewritingstudents<br />Web: <br /><br /> <br /> <br /><br /><br />How do you want me to share good links/resources?<br />
  18. 18. Other stuff<br />Some stuff from me:<br />Secret life of social media (slides+audio):<br />What does twitter mean for breaking news stories? The ISS near-collision case study:<br />Some recent articles:<br />Who’s using twitter?<br />How Freelancers are Using Social Media for Real Results<br />
  19. 19. During this class<br />Who has read some form of social media in this class?<br />Who has updated some form of social media in this class?<br />Who had the urge to either read or post during the class?<br />