Social Media

Why do I use social media? I started using Twitter because I discovered that people were tweeting from conferences. Working in South Africa at that time and the idea of virtual conferences was essentially non-existent, people tweeting from conferences made them far more accessible. I was able to see the highlights and discovery work that I should check out even if I wasn’t able to be there or take part. When I then went to a conference, I tweeted to share what I saw, but I also discovered it was a great way to connect with other people at the conference. It was possible to have those hallway conversations while listening to a talk!

Beforethe pandemic, many of those secondary conversations moved to slack as people were already using that tool and people were tweeting less from conferences. It is hard to use multiple platforms - there are only so many different places where people can pay attention. The pandemic made conferences far more accessible by making it a norm to have virtual participation or posting videos and presentations after the conference, but it also moved almost all the conversations to private channels like slack or zoom. There was still some chatter on Twitter around big conferences, but it is much rarer as people have moved to more closed channels.

After about 2015, my Twitter posting was still mostly professional with some other fun stuff occasionally thrown in, but like everyone else, I was also following a lot of news and politics on Twitter. So, I was consuming a lot of information and doom-scrolling plenty. Though, the parts that I still enjoyed were the random science posts and learning about fields I wasn’t familiar with and listening to those with different experiences.

Looking back, my social media highlights have to include meeting Sarah for the first time at SPIE over watching the World Cup and a roadtrip across Ireland arranged with friends at the last minute. As mentioned, I’ve enjoyed the threads on science and learning from those that I would rarely have the chance to interact with.

So looking forward? Why should I use social media? And which ones?

  • It isn’t a great place for me to share random thoughts. My random/personal thoughts are usually not that entertaining (my Dad once called my twitter ‘boring’), and also not that relevant for those following me on Twitter or Mastodon or LinkedIn.
  • As I mainly use it professionally, there are better places to interact with local news and events and community. I found that NextDoor and Discord both seem better suited for these purposes, and with the uptick in Baltimore journalism, there do seem to be some better, local news outlets.
  • I prefer using the blog for my random, non-work thoughts. I’ll probably be posting more things here.
  • I do like it for discovering new things to learn about. I think following those that are posting interesting things is where I continue to get the most value. I think this also highlights who to follow, but it is more for the serendipity of learning new things.
  • I’ll probably continue to post on them related to professional topics: open science, Earth and Space Science, and NASA.

I think one thing that I’ll have to look at is how much value it is for me to post on professional topics and where I will have the most value on posting in those topics.

Also, if I’m posting here more often, I think asking what I’m doing and why I’m doing it. I like the idea of writing more. I like having a spot to post my ideas and thoughts and record them. I guess the main audience for this blog is myself.

Written on November 26, 2022