Social Media: A Virtual “School of Athens” for Researchers

"The School of Athens" by Raphael, 1511. Apostolic Palace, Vatican City (Image via PDArt/Wikimedia Commons)

“The School of Athens” by Raphael, 1511. Apostolic Palace, Vatican City (Image via PDArt/Wikimedia Commons)

I’ve been asked by the Delta Stewardship Council to speak briefly at their Delta Science Fellows workshop on January 23, 2013, on how social media has influenced my career in science. Here are my notes.

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When I was a boy, I had this vision in my head of what college and academia would be like. And it was this painting — “The School of Athens” by the Renaissance master Raphael.

Which one is Stallone?

Which one is Stallone?

This fresco pretty much features “The Expendables” of classical philosophers and scientists. You’ve got Plato chatting with Aristotle down the middle. Socrates looks like he’s preaching some serious stuff to the upper left. And on the lower left, everyone’s looking over Pythagoras’ shoulder to copy, presumably, his math homework.

One grand hall. So many great minds. Everyone’s relaxed, familiar, and engaged in some deep conversation — or maybe gossip and friendly jests. You can imagine just strolling around a room like this, as if you were wading into a confluence of streams of great ideas and insights — picking up a tidbit here and an inspiration there; stopping to listen to something that caught your ear; or even speaking up and joining a particular conversation.

This is what the social media experience can be like for you in the research field.
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