twitter

Two weeks ago I visited collaborator Adam Eyre-Walker at the University of Sussex in Brighton. Adam and I have been working on a paper exploring what selective forces underly the rate with which bacteria take up new genes, using insights from theory developed to explain the rate at which point mutations occur. The manuscript is close to submission and I hope to post about it sometime soon. Adam also has a blog, where he writes both about population genetics (primarily the fitness effects of mutations) and the sociology of science (primarily scientific publishing): recommended reading! It was great to catch up and also to meet the people in his group. Our converation in the pub turned not to blogs but to twitter, as Adam mentioned his recent tweets describing his experience with PLoS ONE asking him for his personal bank statements to prove he really did qualify for a publication fee waiver, which garnered quite some attention. I have always been  suspicious about twitter, mainly associating it with every man and his dog spouting uninteresting opinions about everything and anything all the time.anabodiodicsThere seems to be an element of truth in this assessment. Idiocy, in-jokes and self-promotion aside, of course there are also plenty of interesting tweets. In Adam’s experience, twitter is a good tool to promote his research, as well as an effective way of finding out about interesting new papers and events in his field (something collaborator Britt Koskella told me before). I realize that twitter can be a very efficient medium to keep updated on specific interests. It might actually be a little bit too good at its job by offering an endless source of procrastination. For instance, scrolling for just a minute through Adam’s twitter feed I found a cool clip on false positives, an interesting discussion of Adam’s analysis of lab size and productivity and a witty comment on The Sun’s page 3. Considering that I have the attention-span of a prawn anyway, I have not yet signed up…

Michiel

P.S. A nice post by Beryl Lieff Benderly on the pro’s and cons of using twitter in science can be found here.

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