Twitter changed science — what happens now it’s in turmoil?
The social platform has flattened hierarchies, throwing people into conversations regardless of geography, seniority or specialism. “Academia is characterized by a lot of gatekeeping,” says Daniel Quintana, a psychologist at the University of Oslo, who has written an e-book on how scientists can use Twitter (https://t4scientists.com). “Twitter provides a fantastic way to actually get your work out there.”
The “flattening of heirarchies” is an interesting narrative spun out by the platforms acolytes. The Nature commentary is full of “promise” overstating the potential and presenting an opinion as a “fact”.
But for many scientists, Twitter has become an essential tool for collaboration and discovery — a source of real-time conversations around research papers, conference talks and wider topics in academia. Papers now zip around scientific communities faster thanks to Twitter, says Johann Unger, a linguist at Lancaster University, UK, who notes that extra information is also shared in direct private messages through the site. And its limit on tweet length — currently 280 characters — has pushed academics into keeping their commentary pithy, he adds.
Of course, I don’t necessarily agree with the narrative. There has been a standard riposte of the “mainstream media” to “decry” that their favourite platform is “dying” because they cease to have any specific influence and represent a picture of “doom”.
Because of its status as a pre-eminent public discussion network and its relatively open data, Twitter has become a hotbed for researchers studying social reactions to world events — in particular, how information spreads on the network. A Nature analysis of the Scopus database of scientific literature, for this article, found more than 41,000 articles and conference papers that mention Twitter in the title, abstract or keywords. That number has increased from just one in 2006 to more than 4,800 in 2022.
(The link opens here). I am NOT endorsing the link, but please draw your own conclusions, whether the published “research” has any impact on “policy” or predicting the complex social interactions. The link out was to another Nature commentary.
Nevertheless, there are other better options which never get written about; points towards a poor research practise.