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Oceanographers: Why So Shy?

Posted in UC3

Last week I attended the TOS/ASLO/AGU Ocean Sciences 2012 Meeting in Salt Lake City. (If you are a DCXL blog regular, you know I was also at the Personal Digital Archiving 2012 Conference last week: my ears were bleeding by Friday night!).  These two conferences were starkly different in many ways.  Ocean Sciences had about 4,000 attendees, while PDA was closer to 100.  Ocean Sciences had concurrent sessions, plenaries, and workshops, while PDA had only one room where all of the speakers presented.  Although both provided provisions during breaks, PDA’s coffee and treats far surpassed those provided at the Salt Palace.  But the most interesting difference? The incorporation of social media into the conference.

There are some amazing blogs out there for ocean scientists: Deep Sea News and SeaMonster come to mind immediately.  There are also a plethora of active tweeters and bloggers in the ocean sciences community, including @labroides @jebyrnes (and his blog) @MiriamGoldste @RockyRohde @JohnFBruno @kzelnio @SFriedScientist @rejectedbanana @DrCraigMc @rmacpherson @Dr_Bik .  I’m sure I’ve left some great ones out- feel free to tweet me and let me know! @carlystrasser).

That being said, ocean scientists stink at social media if OS 2012 was any indication.

First, the Ocean Sciences Meeting did not declare a hash tag – this is the first major conference I’ve been to in a while that didn’t do so.  What does this mean?  Those of us who were trying to communicate about OS 2012 via Twitter were not able to converge under a single hash tag until Tuesday (#oceans2012). Perhaps that isn’t such a big deal since there were only a dozen Tweeters at the conference.  This is unusual for a conference of this size: at AGU 2011 in December, I would hazard to guess that there were more like 200 Tweeters. Food for thought.

Second, I heard from @MiriamGoldste that there was actual, audible clapping when disparaging comments were made about social media in one of the presentations. For shame, oceanographers!  You should take advantage of tools offered to you; short of using social media yourself, you should recognize its growing importance in science (read some of the linked articles below).

Now for PDA 2012. A hash tag was declared (#pda12) and about 2 dozen active tweeters were off and running.  We had dialogues during the conference, helped answer each others’ questions, commented on speakers’ major conclusions, and generally kept those that couldn’t attend the conference in person abreast of the goings-on.  Combine that with real-time blogging of the meeting, and you had a recipe for being connected whether you were sitting in a pew at the Internet Archive or not.  Links were tweeted to newly-posted slides, and generally there was a buzz about the conference.

So listen up, OS 2012 attendees: You are being left in the dust by other scientists who have embraced social media.  I know what you are thinking: “I don’t have time to do all of that stuff!”  One of the conference tweets says it best:

More information…

Read this great post from Scientific American on Social Media for Scientists

COMPASS: Communication partnership for science and the sea. I attended a COMPASS workshop two years ago at NCEAS and was swayed by the lovely Liz Neeley that social media was not only worth my time, but it could advance my career (read “Highly tweeted articles were 11x more likely to be cited” from The Atlantic).

Generally all of the resources on the Social Media For Scientists wikispace

Social Media for Scientists Recap from American Fisheries Society blog

As for how social media relates to the DCXL project, isn’t it obvious? I’ve been collecting feedback straight from potential DCXL users using social media.  Because I have tapped into these networks, the DCXL project’s outcomes are likely to be useful for a large contingent of our target audience.

zach morris cell phone
It seems that oceanographers are stuck in the olden days of communication. For those keeping count, that’s TWO DCXL blog references to Zach Morris’ cell phone. From


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