Tag Archives: Twitter

How can scientists use social media?

This video will mainly interest scientists who are interested in social media and its use in networking (blogging, Facebook, Twitter, etc). Scientist took a while to accept this new media, and many are still suspicious or reluctant to use it. But at least the media is being discussed and considered these days.

This is a Google Hangout video of a discussion by 5 US scientists. it brought home to me that different people use these media for different purposes and in different ways. As a retired scientist my use could be very different to the way a working scientist uses it. And scientists involve in policy issues, or science communication, will use it differently to those involved in teaching and/or research.

Credit: UCS Science Network: Tip of the Week | Union of Concerned Scientists.

Black cat in a dark room – and the role of science

photo 5
There are some  really excellent quotes on social media – Facebook and Twitter.
The one above really appeals to me. Sure the classifications are broad, and it would be interesting to break each one down. But the main message is certainly one I agree with.

It does summarise the problem very well. But I am sure someone will disagree?

Potty Peer in Waikato

Well, Christopher Monckton’s “Freedom Tour” totters on. Peter Griffins has given an initial summary in his blog post Monckton’s nightmare week in New Zealand. This has links to some of the press coverage – which, as we might expect with the Potty Peer, is rather humorous.

Flate-earthers-2

Percy the Astrologer and Mavis the Comely Wench representing the NZ Flat Earth Society came to support Lord Monckton’s Waikato meetings

The good Lord was in the Waikato yesterday. He “wowed” a largely passive, and I suspect largely apathetic, “crowd’ of a couple of dozen people at his  lunchtime presentation to a student forum at the Waikato University. A high point (for me) was the applause and speeches from members of the NZ Flat Earth Society, who are, apparently, the Lord’s most enthusiastic supporters.

While Monckton was challenged on some of his cherry picking he seemed to want to hide his political message about the international conspiracy which is using climate change and scientists to impose a one world government and preparing concentration camps. I thought this was meant to be the main message of his “Freedom Tour.” But he really overdid his claim that, despite his lack of a scientific education, he was well skilled in science and had the support of most scientists. There was something about classical architecture (his education is in classics) and his skill with differential equations. People from all over the world contract him as a consultant. Bloody hell, wonder he has time for all the travelling and talking tours.

He assured us that he gets on well with scientists, works well with them, gives advice to them, and is even himself publishing peer-reviewed papers. There were just one or two individuals he seemed angry with – scientists who were “controversial” and unsupported by their colleagues. Hmm.

Poor guy, though. He wouldn’t just modestly accept the flattery from Percy the Astrologer (see photo), who listed some of Mockton’s immense achievements. He felt the need to respond in detail, repeating and describing these achievements himself. This impressed one of the bystanders who commented that the man suffered from narcissism. Had to look up that word when I got home – it describes “a generalized personality trait characterized by egotism, vanity, pride, or selfishness.” Hmm, actually seems quite correct.

A very low-key forum. Students seemed not to have heard of the guy before (except a suspicious few elderly types who heckled scientists) – one student even referred to him as “that man in the suit.” Don’t know if that is just modern student apathy, or a healthy disregard of minority personalities. Perhaps these students have a fuller life than I do.

Later in the evening Monckton spoke to a meeting sponsored by the NZ Institute of International Affairs (Waikato Branch). I think their support is just local, and I wonder if their political orientation is somewhat unrepresentative.

I didn’t bother with that meeting but followed it on Twitter. It sounded rather humorous. I have put together below some of the tweets using Storify (see Potty peer in the Waikato or follow the hashtag #MoncktonLive).

Wish I had gone now!


Some of Joshua Drummond’s tweets from Monckton’s Monday Night Waikato meeting. This was sponsored by the NZ Institute of International Affairs (Waikato Branch) – I think the support was purely local.

Of course, there was the usual cherry picking and misinformation

cakeburgerJoshua Drummond@cakeburger Drought’s nothing to worry about. That’s good. I think he should tell that to Waikato farmers. They’d laugh. #MoncktonLive
cakeburger Joshua Drummond@cakeburger Antarctic glaciers aren’t retreating, therefore glaciers aren’t retreating. #MoncktonLive

Is he still claiming he is a member of the House of Lords?

cakeburger Joshua Drummond@cakeburger I read the letter from the House of Lords at him. Audience: When did you write that? #MoncktonLive

cakeburger Joshua Drummond@cakeburger That was interesting. He didn’t like being told he wasn’t a member of the House of Lords. He says he is. #MoncktonLive

cakeburger Joshua Drummond@cakeburger .@ImperatorFish When I pressed him after event he refused to give yes or no, just repeated “learned opinion is that I am” #MoncktonLive

Seems much of the audience was pretty much in awe of the Potty Peer.What does this say about the members of the NZ Institute of International Affairs (Waikato Branch)? Is this a local libertarian coven?

cakeburger
Joshua Drummond@cakeburger Monkton on biofuels = mass death. Guy behind mutters “That’s the agenda. That’s the agenda.” #MoncktonLive

cakeburger
Joshua Drummond@cakeburger Audience member to me, after #MoncktonLive “I was very disappointed with your disrespect towards Lord Monckton.”

cakeburger
Joshua Drummond@cakeburger Things just got VERY shouty. At me, again. Now I know how poor Richard Prosser feels #MoncktonLive

This final drama sounds intriguing. Would love to see a video. or perhaps a circus presentation by clowns.

cakeburger
Joshua Drummond@cakeburger #MoncktonLive Got a brief 1-on-1 with the man himself. Ended with him grabbing my laptop, me saying “No, MY laptop. Mine. Mine.” #TrueStory

cakeburger
Joshua Drummond@cakeburger Final #MoncktonLive: Monckton says to security guard “Please escort this man [me] from the premises”.

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Our world from the International Space Station

Baikal

Photo by Chris Hadfield / NASA: Lake Baikal, Siberia. Immensely old and deep, it holds one-fifth of all the Earth’s fresh water. 26 Feb 2013, 7:31 PM (Click photo to enlarge)

Anyone following Chris Hadfield (@Cmdr_Hadfield) on Twitter will have seen some of his gorgeous photos taken from the International Space Station (ISS). Somebody should collect them together so we can browse them.

Well, someone has done that with photos taken by Hadfield and other members of the ISS crew. Have a look at the web site Our World From The ISS or click the screen image below.

ISS-photos

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The internet – Yeah, right!

Here’s something I picked up on Twitter from Tim Hart (@Timwellspent).

As he said “This is quite brilliant. What The Sun newspaper wrote about the internet 20 years ago.”

Brings back memories.

Update:

Thanks to HappyEvilSlosh we have the origin of this page at Hold Ye Front Page. This provides more information on the history of the Internet.

How to write a best-seller!

If you haven’t heard of Deepak Chopra you may not  appreciate this – the Random Deepak Chopra Quote Generator. It enables you to manufacture a “quote” – generated from a list of word in Deepak’s Twitter stream.

Like his normal utterances it will be “indistinguishable from a set of profound sounding words put together in a random order.”

Here’s a few I got (click on “Receive more wisdom”).

  • “Evolution experiences ephemeral reality”
  • “The world heals an expression of happiness”
  • “The universe comprehends humble space time events”

Hell – you could just about write a popular book using this generator.

Thanks to Jerry Coyne at Deepak generator!

Do atheists need religion?

I was in no hurry to read this book – Religion for Atheists: A Non-believer’s Guide to the Uses of Religion. It got such bad reviews. And I really wasn’t impressed by Alain de Botton’s contribution to public debate – on TV and in the media. However, an atheist friend recommended the book and, although I don’t think she had finished reading it, she was impressed with the book’s arguments. Or at least the problems the author identified for atheists living in a secular society.

So, out of a sense of responsibility I purchased and read it.

My conclusion – a waste of money and time!

I don’t intend this to be a review of the book. For that I recommend reading Martin S Pribble’s thoughtful review (Religion For Atheists). As an aside, I followed Martin’s reading of this book via his Twitter comments. First time I have come across a Twitter book review! I think it sort of works – at least when the reader gets emotional about what he or she is reading.

Sufficient to say that de Botton sets up straw men – an idealised, perfect religion (mostly Christianity) and a deficient, sterile, secular society. His only objection to religion appears to be their supernatural stories. So his answer to the worlds’ problems is to ditch supernaturalism but adopt the remaining institutions, buildings, funding structures, social relationships, moral messages, music and art of religion (particularly Christianity). As is! Artificially.

My atheist friend often comments on the need in our secular society to develop institutions which provide for the social needs of people. Their desire for community and charity. So I can see why she was, at least initially, attracted to this book. It’s just that I can’t see how de Botton’s utopia (religion with all its trappings except its gods) provides this, or is even possible.

Personally I agree that modern society needs to provide more in the way of institutions, ceremony and even buildings which appeal to our desire for community and significance. But that is not unique to modern society – it has always been the case – especially as the old institutions often did not fulfil these promises, or were even quite evil.

The point is that the most appropriate ceremonies, institutions and culture for these purposes are the ones that are built by the existing society, not artificially transplanted into it. And we are building such institutions, ceremonies, etc., in our modern, pluralist, secular society.

Religion needs secularism – and can learn from it

Why should we artificially transplant something from a religion (after removing its supernatural content) when we can do better? Consider modern ceremonies like weddings and funerals in this country. They have become a lot more secular – even where they are performed in a Church. We seem to have welcomed with open arms the secular concept of remembering and celebrating the life of a deceased person in our funerals. Friends and family give their stories and feelings. New Zealand funerals today are far more satisfying than those in the old days which simply had the religious purpose of sending the person of into the “afterlife.”

The church has noticed and adopted many of the features of secular funerals and other ceremonies. Incorporated them into their own ceremonies.

There are many other examples. The point is that – yes, we do need more and better institutions and ceremonies which contribute to our human need for community and friendship. We do need more buildings, art and ethical commentary appealing to those needs. It’s a matter of more of what we are doing well, not artificially transplanting from old and moribund institutions and ideologies. And its a matter of creating these new institutions and culture in a way that is inclusive – not the exclusiveness “them vs us” of the religious approaches.

So, my recommendation is that you should give this book a miss, unless you feel a responsibility to read it like I did. At least I will now be able to discuss the book and my reactions intelligently when I next see my atheist friend.

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“Web monkeys” and science presentation

Dr. Danah Boyd on stage at Web 2.0 Expo NY 2009. (Credit: Danah Boyd) – Be careful of presenting the tweets.*

Here’s an inspiring tale for young scientists. If you are working on presentations for a conference it’s always tempting to try something new which might create interest, wake up those who have fallen asleep or just to get your point across in a nice graphic.

Well what about using Twitter to convey the main points of your message – as you present?

Sounds impossible, but Amy O’Leary (@amyoleary ) did it.

Apparently it’s simply a matter of linking the presentation software to twitter so that as each new slide is projected, a tweet, which has been carefully crafted in advance by the speaker, is launched into cyberspace.

Sounds like a great idea to me. Sometimes I do follow a presentation on Twitter – but tweets are sent by members of the audience, they depend on their own understanding and they may not properly reflect what the presenter is actually saying. This way, the version that gets tweeted is the “official” one at least.

You can read more about her presentation, and watch a video of it, at How Amy O’Leary live-tweeted her own speech — and won the #backchannel

I don’t present much these days but must try this idea next time I do. A quick google search indicated two possible tools enabling one to do this:

For Apple users, Keynote Tweet allows you put your tweet wrapped in [twitter] tags in the presenter notes pane for that slide and when you click onto that slide, the tweet gets published.

For Windows users, AutoTweet is a new add-in for PowerPoint developed by Timo Elliot of SAPWeb2.0. It works in the same way as Keynote Tweet. For more information see PowerPoint Twitter Magic.

Here’s a short video describing How to Download, Install, and Use PowerPoint Twitter AutoTweet.

Anybody here tried this?

Perhaps I have just “discovered” something that everybody already uses.

Any readers here have experience with this sort of use of twitter during a presentation?


* See Beware the Backchannel: Dr Boyd incorporated Twitter into her presentation – “What happened? Briefly, the audience, using Twitter (the backchannel) made disparaging comments about the speaker, Dr. Boyd. What was most dreadful, and lamentable, is the fact that the Twitter comments were visually displayed behind her – while she was giving her presentation…”

Souvenirs for scientists

I love these Matryoshka dolls: Copernicus, Galileo, Newton, Sagan and Hawking

Matryoshka dolls are great ornaments – and kids, especially the very young ones, love to play with them. I have been aware that the whole idea of these traditional dolls has been extended to produce sets of politicians, for example, as souvenirs. However, this is the first set I have seen of scientists.

A great idea – along the lines of standing on the shoulders of giants. Just the thing for a scientist’s desk.

Now, I wonders of there are sets for biologists,chemists, mathematicians, . . .

Thanks to Rachana Bhatawdekar  @astrogeek03


Thanks also to Darcy who hunted down the original source. These dolls were constructed by as a gift for his girlfriend who was majoring in astronomy. He talks about it on his post Astronomatryoshkas

Higgs and homeopathy

With all the news lately about the Large Hadron Collider and evidence for the Higg’s field I had to laugh at this little twitter exchange I saw this morning. It was apparently sparked by an advocate providing a quantum proof of homeopathy.