“Social Media for Science and Conservation: A Guide to Making an Impact in the Digital Age”
Posted by Alex
“To raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old problems from a new angle, requires creative imagination and marks real advance in science (Einstein).”
Being in grad school, it is not very often that I have time to read books “for fun” as most of my colleagues I am sure would agree. However, when a multitude of people sent me the link to the new ebook from Christine Beggs, “Social Media for Science and Conservation: A Guide to Making an Impact in the Digital Age,” I had to see what all the hype was about. I had actually been looking for a book just like this and let me tell you, if you were searching too…look no further. The book I now lovingly refer to as SciComm101, hits the proverbial nail on the head. As I just recently flipped the last page of this one on my kindle, I wanted to share my thoughts, without giving away all the juicy details, on a book I believe all scientists (young and slightly more distinguished) should be reading.
“Stories are at the core of our beliefs and through the ages, the importance of documenting and passing on information and knowledge has shaped the evolution of the world’s cultures and societies. Stories and language are the threads that stitch individuals together, allowing us to communicate complex ideas, emotions and messages…And in a time of increasingly complex environmental issues, we need communicators from across cultures and disciplines; we need good storytellers.”
I could not agree more with this introduction. Whether you are writing a novel, a blog article, or a manuscript for Science, your story and how you tell it is the legacy that you leave behind. Social media, in all of it’s forms, allows scientists an open and global platform to portray their ideas, their research, and most importantly their stories. The use of social media makes scientists and their research real to a much broader audience where access was previously limited. Beggs explores this concept in depth and answers the Who, What, Why, and Where, in this fairly all-inclusive and well synthesized social media “how-to-guide.”
SM4S&C begins by giving it’s readers a quick and dirty definition on what Social Media is and isn’t as well as the numerous types of ways to get your message out there (Online forums, Social sharing, Microblogging…oh my!). The best part about it is that due to the various platforms scientists/conservationists can use, no matter who you are or how much time you have to denote, there is something for everyone.
The blurb on “Why Use Social Media?” I believe to be particularly important, especially for all those out there who aren’t quite convinced. Citing the one and only A. Thaler, who hails from the deep southern lands of Southern Fried Science, I believe this question was summed up perfectly, “Because communication of knowledge, is at ‘the heart of conservation, environmentalism, and environmental science’ (Thaler et al. 2012).” From increasing transparency of the research realm, to inspiring and promoting conservation and societal change, no matter what your end goal, Beggs walks readers through the in’s and out’s of exactly why social media is such a powerful tool. No doubt, as we all know, with great power comes great responsibility (EXPECIALLY IN THE ONLINE WORLD), but luckily for us, Beggs touches upon even some of the downsides of social media and how they can be avoided.
Continuing right along, I found all of the statistics/inforgraphics for Facebook, Twitter, WordPress, etc. that Beggs referenced to be quite fascinating and well surpassing the magnitude and volume I was expecting. Especially this one, which really hits home on the reach and power of social media to get your message across.
However, what I probably love most about this book is that it is easy to understand, even for those of you who still think that MyBook and Facespace are real things, and walks you through all of the social media platforms step by step (some of which I didn’t even know about and will now be using, Thanks Christine!). From the importance of setting goals of what you want your online presence to be, to finding the best place to make those goals a reality depending on the audience you are looking to reach, this book truly has it all.
As scientists, social media allows us a chance to keep up with the current research in the field, to collaborate with our colleagues and friends and people we haven’t even met before, to open up new dialogues and carry on with old ones, but most importantly social media allows us to increase the reach of our stories.
“Monitoring conversations that are taking place on issues and research in your area of expertise will help you identify opportunities (Weidinger, 2012). These opportunities may come in the form of new connections or a chance to leap into a discussion and transform an issue. Social media gives individuals and organizations the power to make an impact in the digital age by crafting messages of science and conservation that are compelling, viral, and easy for people to act on.”
Without reservation, I recommend this book to all of those looking to garner a better grasp on the numerous online avenues that are changing the way we communicate science.
About the author:
“Currently pursuing her Master’s in Marine Conservation at the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science (RSMAS), Christine Beggs is the founder of Project Blue Hope. Her zeal for understanding the complexities of marine issues and coral reef protection drove her decision to attend the RSMAS program, interdisciplinary at its core, which prepares students for jobs actively informing policy and engaged in conservation efforts.
Beginning life as a dancer, turned scientist, turned entrepreneur, diver and conservationist, Christine says, “It has been said that we have ‘unlearned the patience and attention of lingering at the thresholds where the unknown awaits us.’ This is what my connections with communities and the ocean teach me and what I try to impart.”
Learn more about ProjectBlueHope.
Own it for yourself! Purchase Here.