Science in the Social Network

Given that Facebook was founded in 2004 and Twitter two years later in 2006 you may think the impact of social networking on science was limited before the 2000s. But you would be wrong. Dead wrong. Take the example of the ‘Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica’ otherwise known as Newton’s Principia which forms the foundation of classical (Newtonian) mechanics and Newton’s law of universal gravitation. As Tom Standage [1] explains, the Principia has its very origin in the social network sites of 1600s England – the Coffeehouses.

From discussions, to collaborations, from stories to experiments, the pre-2000 social networking sites had them all. And how we use social media today reflects how we used it then. A survey conducted in 2014 by Richard Van Noorden [2] into the social media use of over 3,500 researchers showed that many were using social media to discover peers, or find collaborators.

But ‘science in the social network’ is not just about scientist-to-scientist communication. It is also about how scientists share their information to the layperson. This is important to improve both the general literacy of the human population about the World around us and to inspire the next generation of scientists to go further and farther into the depths of understanding.

References

[1] Standage, T., 2013. Writing on the wall: Social media-The first 2,000 years. Bloomsbury Publishing USA.

[2] http://www.nature.com/news/online-collaboration-scientists-and-the-social-network-1.15711

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