I am now almost in the 11th hour of my crowd funding campaign for Hips 4 Hipsters and I have done various activities since I last wrote in an attempt to increase awareness of the project and the process (as well inadvertently engaging in a fair amount of self sabotage…a subject for another blog post on another day!)
One of the most time consuming activities I have engaged in was to spend a week as the eponymous ‘Real Scientist‘ on the @realscientists Rotational Twitter account. This was to amplify my signal from just under 2000 followers to the site list of over 12,000 followers, who are ostensibly engaged cheerleaders of science (or scientists themselves). And thank you to the kind folks who moderate the account such as @upulie @theotherdrsmith @reneewebs and @sciencesarah for giving me the opportunity to use it in such a way.
But, as with all communication, I had to establish a relationship with the audience first and decided to reflect certain parts of my real life persona (a love of vintage frocks, loud tights and high heel shoes) as well as many aspects of my daily lived experience as an female early career academic scientist (in the style of a real time stream of consciousness). I was critiqued by some followers for this style as they preferred the less personal style of some previous incumbents which was to ‘stick to the science’ in isolation from the factors than impact their abilities to conduct that science.
But other followers of the account appreciated the blow by blow account of my life – including some glimpses as what it was like to run a new research lab whilst juggling a heavy teaching and admin load, not to mention a young family. And I was pleased that this ‘warts and all’ expose proved instructional for many. I must have made an impression on some as I managed to increase my personal Twitter follower count by several hundred in the interim, many from my week on the rotation account.
I tried to inform as well as educate and entertain during that week (including some interesting interactions with trolls!) and even though I had been tweeting about the subject of implant infections and antibiotic resistance generally (peppered with some plugs for the project, including the URL), I decided to wait to the end of the week to ‘pass the hat’ around for my performance on the site. I liken this to busking and whilst people often expect science communication to be ‘pro bono’ , I really can’t see why I shouldn’t try and leverage such opportunities to have gratuities paid towards my research for such exchanges.
Thankfully, many of the rotation account followers agreed and by the end of the last day I had amassed perhaps $1000 in pledges from the time spend on this exercise, which is not a bad outcome for something I had wanted to do as a science communicator anyway. And some pledges from the tweeps that came to my personal account from this time are also trickling in.