Jumping into social networks: What would Humphry Davy think?

Its funny how a little break and some holiday reading can open ones eyes a bit. In my case I was reading an article by Richard Holmes in the Chemical Heritage Magazine (vol 29, p26-31) about the icon that is Sir Humphry Davy. The article describes how Davy became a hero, added glamour to chemistry, held audiences spellbound and was a scientific communicator of the highest order through his lectures at the Royal Institution. Interestingly Davy inspired many by his lectures that went on to become great scientific communicators or scientists themselves.  We live in a different age, chemistry does not have the glamour it once had in Davy’s day and people no longer clamour to buy chemistry sets. Chemistry is drowned out by big science in the popular media and left poorly funded by governments. How can the voice of chemistry or for that matter the voice of any scientific discipline that does not fit neatly into the 10 second media soundbite, be heard? What would Humphry Davy do if he lived today? I think he would have embraced social media to get his message out to the masses and this thought has inspired me.

A new year and a resolution, one of many. Push myself out a little more on the web and into more applications so people can find me and I can communicate my research more widely. I figure that this can also help in my efforts to do more collaborative research. Admittedly I have been a bit slow on the social networks side. I jumped in to Linkedin years ago and slowly got to Facebook and then Twitter finally in 2011. I do feel emboldened to jump in a bit deeper because of Antony Williams efforts putting a slideset together as a “how to manual”. Now I am going to see how easy it is to follow his footsteps and use the tools to further my scientific research networks.

Like many I added links to all these social networks and tools at the bottom of my yahoo emails but it started to get a bit unwieldy.

Antony suggested I try about.me as a one stop place to put all my links.

So this is step one in coordinating  my online profile, another effort has been to update my profile on Scientists’ Database www.scientistsdb.com . As Wikipedia seems to be only interested in dead or very notable scientists, there really is no other alternative place for a complete listing of all my interests in science, bibliography etc. Antony has produced some slides to give more detail and doubtless I will blog again as this database progresses.

So a few small steps for me, now to get on with my research so I have something to talk about to inspire the next generation of scientists. I think Davy would approve of the that.


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