InstaScience: a visual exploration of #ThisScientificLife

You may have noticed that the frequency of posts on this has gradually declined over the last year or so. In part, this is because I’m not sure that the various forms of social media I follow (twitter and blogs mainly) have upheld the promise of democratization, “getting your voice heard” and hearing other people’s voices the way I had hoped they would. In fact, if you have a science blog or a twitter account, there is a fair chance that you might end up writing primarily for the friends and colleagues you would talk to anyway – not because your content isn’t interesting, but because you didn’t have the right connections (which will then bring you even more connections) to begin with.

I have the feeling that this phenomenon is discouraging not only for me, but also for other interesting cool new voices out there: many blogs and and twitter accounts that I follow grow eerily silent after a few initial attempts, and instead an “old boys club” seems to be emerging: a network of people who are already well-connected and know each other, and who talk about the same things over and over again: open access, pre-print servers, the postdoc crisis (or maybe that it’s not a crisis at all), sexism in science,  lookMyPaperJustGotPublished, lookMyFriendsPaperJustGotPublished and so on… If you have a novel idea or a divergent opinion and are at the periphery of this network then you are typically not heard at all. And it is not that these things aren’t important. But to have a real discussion you need diversity and you need to listen to people outside of the “club” – and that’s the thing that seems to be missing right now.

So, after some thought, I have decided to experiment with a new type social media: Instagram. Just as 5 years ago twitter was a blank slate for me, today instagram is that blank slate. From what I’ve seen there isn’t much science content, but maybe that’s because I don’t know what I’m looking for.

Slide1

Some top hits when searching Instagram for #genetics, #molecular or #transcription…

Either way, I’ve decided to start a visual journey that documents the life of a molecular biologist in snapshots. Similar to #365papers on twitter I hope to make it a daily (or every other day?) endeavor to post at least one image that captures my scientific life for that day. I don’t know if it will work: maybe this time I’ll be posting for an audience of zero. But then again,maybe I’ll be posting to a new crowd I would otherwise not interact with at all.

Of course, I don’t want to give up twitter and blogging – I’m hoping that I can balance these activities and see if they provide a more diverse reach.

Let the games begin.

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