In a previous post,Dorothy Bishop explained why it is that research scientists might be interested in using Twitter. I share her views, having been moderately active on Twitter for a few years under my handle @STWorg. I have lost count of the number of really interesting papers and articles that I have come across using Twitter. Although it does inevitably take some time to tweet, I found the payoff to be a net positive in terms of scientific gains.
I also find Twitter cognitively rewarding: I once micro-blogged a conference (hashtag #AGUchapman), sending live tweets from the audience to summarize the talks in 140 characters. Several audience members did this in real time, and it was a striking experience to see the tweets recreate a complex talk in 140-character bursts. As we probably all know,recall attempts provide a striking benefit to retention compared to just listening to the material—so if I had to guess, Twitter may well be a "cognitive prosthesis" that may help one get more out of attending talks.
In this post I want to share a few tech tips for Twitter and also talk about the Society's Facebook page and how you might use that to share our research.
Twitter Tech Tips
Dorothy's post mentioned hashtags briefly. There is quite a bit more to hashtags and a good explanation can be found here. I am hoping to introduce a hashtag for the Society's annual meeting so that we can run live microblogs during the conference: I have found this to work well and there is now even an etiquette for live tweeting that comes with certain ethical strictures.
If you've ever been on Twitter you will have noticed that some tweets begin with "@xyz", where xyz is someone's handle. Those tweets form a 'conversation' between various different people, for example between @JaneDoe and @JoeDoe, and the rules of who gets to see what from whom are quite nuanced and important to know—your conversation may not be as private as you think! This post explains the technicalities really well and I recommend it for anyone who wants to engage in conversations on Twitter and keep control over who is partaking in the exchange. By the way, having conversations on Twitter can be quite rewarding because you really need to get to the point in 140 characters or less. Miraculously, this works surprisingly well and can be quicker than sending lengthy emails. (The downside is that it's tough to be polite in 140 characters so this is not recommended for criticism or challenging exchanges about replication failures, for example.)
If you want to share a Tweet with someone not on Twitter, you can obtain the URL of a tweet—yes, each tweet has its own unique internet address—as follows:
Locate the Tweet anywhere on twitter.com and click anywhere in the tweet
The Tweet will expand slightly and will have more information on the
bottom about when it was posted.
Click on Details next to the timestamp.
Copy the URL that shows up in your browser's address bar, then email
it or insert it into a document or whatever.
Finally, if you find that something you just tweeted was incorrect or somehow didn't express what you wanted to say, you can delete it very easily:
Locate the Tweet in your timeline and click anywhere in the tweet.
Click on the "more" below the tweet and choose "delete" from the menu that appears. The tweet is now gone forever and unless someone took a screen snapshot of it, it will disappear as though it never existed.
Reviled by some, loved by others, Facebook seems to be here to stay (at least for a while). Although most people use Facebook primarily to stay in touch with friends and family—myself included—it can also have an academic payoff. I have had several maths questions and queries about MATLAB or R resolved by my Facebook friends, although unlike Twitter, I rarely come across interesting scientific papers on Facebook.
There is an easy way to change that, however: Simply follow and "like" to the Psychonomic Society's Facebook page, and your Facebook news stream will be populated with information about the posts on the Society's Featured Content—a link to this post could appear on your Facebook stream automatically if you sign up for it.
To benefit from the Society's Facebook page, you go to https://www.facebook.com/psychonomicsociety. Once there, and having logged on to your own Facebook account, you click Follow and Like, as shown in the image below:
There is one minor but important detail you have to consider: You need to tick "get notifications" when you press the "Like" button, via the little menu that pops up next to the "Like" button with the down arrow. This is shown in the screen snapshot below:
Once you have done that, anything that gets posted to the Society's Facebook page shows up in your newsfeed. From there, you can click through to whatever is being posted by the Society.
And once things are in your newsfeed, you can "Share" them so that your friends also see the Psychonomic content.
What does all this have to do with cognitive psychology? Quite a bit actually, as was shown by Laura Mickes and colleagues last year in a Psychonomic journal : Facebook content is remembered strikingly better than comparable sentences from books—a magnitude comparable to the difference in memory strength between people with amnesia and control participants. The authors conclude that "the remarkable memory for microblogs ... may be a more general phenomenon of their being the largely spontaneous and natural emanations of the human mind." So who says Psychonomic research is dusty laboratory empiricism?