Science - September 7, 2011

From peer review to 140 characters

They may be rare but they do exist - Wageningen scientists who experiment with social media. But the sceptics are in the majority. There is a social media workshop for them on Wednesday at the Groene Golflengte landscape conference.

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Three questions about the plans of organizer Roel During (@perommegaande), an Alterra researcher at the Landscape Centre.
You only have a few Twitter messages and only two followers. So why do you want to get WUR enthusiastic about social media?
'It's true I am not that active personally but I do now plan on getting involved in social media. I have two aims: making sure policy remains representative and making people more prepared to take action. We are moving towards a society in which private action will be increasingly important. This means that changes in society will come about not through political actions or policies but through millions of minor decisions. That is why WUR needs to interact more with society at large - focusing less on policy and more on action.'

What will be the practical content of your workshop?
'We will be discussing techniques but also how you get mass involvement in a project through crowdsourcing and crowdfunding. There will be people like Martijn Duineveld, a cutting-edge researcher who has already integrated social media in his research methods. He gives others a say at an early stage and uses that input in his articles.'

What do you hope to achieve ultimately?
'At the moment we see the use of social media as a burden on top of our real work whereas we have to start seeing it as an elementary part of projects. The days when we were given an assignment by the responsible policymaker and simply had to write a policy document are over.'

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