This past weekend, scientists from around the world met in Colorado for Evolution 2013, the largest scientific meeting in the world for folks studying evolutionary biology.
I was not one of these scientists, and I was bummed about it.
Conferences are very important for scientists for many reasons. They serve as forums to share work that is brand new and unpublished. They allow scientists with common interests to meet face-to-face, creating opportunities for collaboration and generation of new ideas. They can even be places to find your next job!
But from the opposite perspective, conferences are expensive: registration, hotel, transportation, and food add up quickly. And if you aren’t there, you miss out. While not every presentation at a conference will become a published academic paper, many of the ideas and techniques presented could pass you by due to the lag time between the completion of scientific studies and the actual publication of those studies.
However, social media applications like Twitter are now allowing outsiders to get a peak into scientific conferences like never before in addition to giving conference-goers an improved experience.
Let me show you how. While working this weekend, I had my tweetdeck up monitoring the hashtag #evol2013. Below are some examples of how I got to see who was presenting what and how Evolution 2013 attendees made their conference better with lighting-fast sharing.
Disclaimer: since all of the below twitter accounts are public, I didn’t ask everyone for permission. Keep in mind that they are not endorsing my opinions, and I encourage you to link to their accounts to read all about their various adventures.
First of all, sharing interesting talks (even your own!) is easy:
Meeting up with like-minded attendees:
Making life easier for conference attendees with schedules, snacks, and saunas:
What are other scientists talking about? Now you know, from the interesting perspectives of respected faculty to the alway-relevant jokes about dress code and grad student scavengers:
Good stuff. I’ve cherry-picked some entertaining bits above, but in all seriousness, the #evol2013 hashtag allowed me to follow what was going on at the meeting while I was hundreds of miles away. Not only did I benefit from seeing the trends among my colleagues, but I also got a peek at the way scientific conferences are being conducted in the future.