Ironically, I write a blog post about it. I’ve been asked to talk to first year faculty about “Communications Strategies: Using the Internet, Email and New Media in Teaching and Scholarship.” My mandate is vague, so I thought I’d focus on how I use “social media” in my professional life. I’m not going to talk about email. Because, honestly, if they aren’t using email effectively by now, I’m not sure how they got a faculty position. And managing the email-beast is way beyond my expertise.
Instead, let’s talk about blogging and Twitter and the like.
Watershed Hydrogeology Blog (here)
I’ve maintained a “lab blog” here since May 2008. It’s purpose has evolved somewhat, but presently I view it fulfilling the following needs:
- a place to brag about the cool things my students and I are doing;
- a place for prospective students to get an idea of what I’m interested in and working on;
- a place for me to post all of my abstracts, papers, etc. so that I can easily find them again when I need to reference them;
- a place to post links to interesting miscellany (REU announcements, videos, etc.) that I think might be of interest to me, my students, or other hapless folks who read this site.
At one point, I thought I would use this site as a way to aggregate all of my on-line writing. But I haven’t always kept up with that. However, I still do sometimes cross-post between here and my other blog, Highly Allochthonous. I should be better about it actually.
I haven’t asked my students to write on the blog, though I could probably let them know it is available to them if they want to do so. I figure graduate students have enough on their plates without being obligated to write a blog. I would be open to any student who did want to write posts here, though I’d probably want to work out a system for vetting posts so that they wouldn’t contain regrettable or unpublished material.
I write this blog along with another geologist. Here I am writing for an audience that ranges from professional geoscientists, to K-12 teachers, to the interested public, to whoever Google search delivers. We tend to write things that we are interested in and we think others might be too. Our writing there is less technical than the scientific literature (or the lab blog), but posts there are more in-depth and analytical than here. I also pay more attention to my writing style.
I’ve written a lot about current events, scientific papers, and particular places on the landscape, and a little bit about issues of diversity in science, the lives of academic scientists, and the way I teach. We also periodically do compilations of things we’ve linked to on Twitter.
My pace of writing at Highly Allochthonous ebbs and flows depending on my workload and inspiration. The last few months have been pretty sparse, but I suspect it will pick up again in the summer and fall. I’ve been blogging there since spring 2008 as well.
I tweet as @highlyanne – mostly about water science and resource issues, geology, geomorphology, climate, and science careers. Basically things that I find interesting when I am reading on-line or off-line. I also usually Twitter a lot more socially than blogs. A lot of my tweets will be replies to friends or colleagues on Twitter. Both my PhD advisor and undergraduate advisor are on Twitter actually, though one is more active than the other.
What I get out of all of it
- A collegial atmosphere with more diverse scientists and interested citizens than I see in real life
- Knowledge of a wider breadth of current events in science than I would get from reading journals
- Practice writing for a variety of audiences (blogging has undoubtedly made me a better writer)
- Spill-over knowledge into my teaching
- More visibility than your average assistant professor (media interviews, book reviews, attention from my scientific societies)
- Quick answers to questions either scientific or pedagogical (“crowd-sourcing”)