I had a pretty solid plan for my project when I came into class on Monday. I am in the midst of writing a piece about science and social media for Misci, one of the science writing blogs I am a part of. I don’t have enough time to do as much as I would like to for this article (it is due this Friday– yikes!), so I thought it would be good to elaborate on the article as my capstone project. This would include interviewing scientists and organizations around campus about their opinion on science and social media.
So my topic was covered, the only question I really had was who my audience should be. I thought it could either be an informative piece for scientists against social media or for the general public, warning them of the issues with communicating science through social media. Exhibit one is this tweet by Lawrence M. Krauss, a famous Physicist:
My earlier rumor about LIGO has been confirmed by independent sources. Stay tuned! Gravitational waves may have been discovered!! Exciting.
— Lawrence M. Krauss (@LKrauss1) January 11, 2016
I’m not very into Physics, so I am not sure exactly what a gravitational wave is or what would result from its discovery. I do, however, know enough about the way research is done in science to know that this tweet sparks a red flag.
- “has been confirmed by independent sources.” AKA not his information to give out. Should scientists really be sharing someone else’s findings before they do?
- “may have been discovered.” AKA the research has not been peer reviewed OR published yet. The scientific process takes a while and for a good reason. I am not suggesting the lab behind this possible discovery messed up any of their experiments, but until they’re peer reviewed, it is a real concern.
I brought this up in class, and after talking about my concerns with audience, everyone seemed to be on the same page. They want to know what to trust and not to trust when it comes to science being shared on social media. I never really thought about it, but it is true; it is quite difficult to tell who is a credible source and to know what red flags to look out for. Thanks to my peers, I now know who my audience will be.
Knowing my audience now will also help me when deciding where to make my article. Right now I have a vision of an “emagazine” where I could put the live twitter feeds of the person I am interviewing right next to the article. I will have to come up with more components of the magazine if I go this route, but as of now it seems like a pretty solid plan. Thank you to everyone who helped me think through this idea. I can’t wait to see what comes of it.
Now… It’s time to get to work!