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Tweeting at a Conference: The Magic of a Hashtag

16 Apr

With the mammoth task of Storifying #EGU2013 this week, I’m wondering just how useful social media, particularly Twitter, has become at conferences.

While having a hashtag for a conference with 4,684 oral, 8,207 poster, and 452 PICO presentations (#EGU2013) won’t give you an insight into what’s going on in all the sessions – there’s simply too much science – it provides a guide to what’s happening next (as speakers share their sessions) and is an indicator of the “hot topics” as multiple media-savvy participants share their experience of particular sessions. More importantly though, it gives people attending the conference an opportunity to interact and extend their discussion online.

When there’s over 3,800 tweets on the #EGU2013 hashtag during the General Assembly, curating a scintillating story that also falls into the category of ‘short and sweet’ no longer seems achievable. But do we need it? Perhaps it’s better to preserve the discussion that surrounds topical sessions such as the Great Debate on fracking and shale gas (Storify to come – watch this space!) and short courses, which can then be used as a resource for hints and tips later.

Just a sample from #EGU2013 (click for larger).

While making something public via Twitter can bring up the subject of potentially being “scooped” on science before it’s published. At a conference you are already communicating your work externally, so this is not an issue. Instead, it presents an opportunity to communicate your research with the wider public and scientific community. Here are some of the benefits:

Enriched discussions

Twitter provides opportunities for a much richer discussion during a conference – not only are you listening to the speaker’s insights on a topic, but you can tune in to the knowledge and experience of others in the audience. The knowledge gathered in a scientific conference is phenomenal and in the case of the EGU General Assembly, having over 11,000 brilliant scientific minds at your fingertips, why wouldn’t you ask a question?! Okay, so they aren’t all on Twitter, but the chance of a well-informed reply is high, so it’s still worth asking!

Remote participation

To add to the already enriched discussion, when something is being broadcast on Twitter, anyone can follow the goings on – be it the colleagues you left back in the lab, the geologist whose fieldwork clashed with the event, or the interested twitterer, who happens upon the hashtag! If a talk is being live tweeted (someone is tweeting updates about the speaker’s presentation) then it’s even easier for others to participate in the conference online and ask their own questions of the audience and the speaker.

Leaving a legacy

So we have a rich discussion, that involves members of the audience and connects with the wider public, potentially sharing the science with individuals across the globe – is there more to gain from a conference Twitter feed? Yes. The online discussion can be condensed and curated using Storify, which leaves a legacy of the discussion that people can return to later. Take the #EGUjobs session for example, Sarah Blackford and Helen Goulding gave an excellent talk on how to apply for jobs both in and out of academia last week and you can return to their recommendations here.

What did you gain from the conference Twitter feed? Fancy more of the same next year? Less? Or an even bigger online presence in 2014? Leave a comment below, or include it in the conference feedback form and we’ll do our best to make it a reality. 

Sci Comm at the 2013 General Assembly

27 Mar


GeoLog will be updated regularly throughout the General Assembly, highlighting some of the meeting’s most interesting sessions, workshops and lectures as well as featuring interviews with scientists attending the Assembly.

Writers from the EGU Blog Network will also be posting about interesting research and sessions during the Assembly, so you can catch up on any sessions you’ve missed and get a feel for what’s going on in the press room through them!

As in previous years, the EGU will be compiling a list of General Assembly related blogs (the blogroll) and making them available through GeoLog.  If you would like to contribute to GeoLog, add your blog to the blogroll, or join the EGU Blog Network please contact Sara Mynott at


Participants can keep updated with General Assembly goings on by following the EGU twitter account (@EuroGeosciences) and the conference hashtag (#egu2013). You can also direct questions to the EGU communications staff and other participants using #egu2013, or by tweeting to @EuroGeosciences directly.

Some sessions also have their own hashtag including the Great Debate (GDB1; #eguFrack), the Union Session on Curiosity (US2; #eguMars), how to apply for a job (SC9/EOS13;#eguJobs), and how to use blogs and social media in scientific research (SC8/EOS12; #eguSMedia). Make sure to tag your tweets accordingly if you are posting about these sessions!


And other social media!

While these will be the main media streams during the Assembly, you can also follow the European Geosciences Union on Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn and YouTube to keep up with us there!

EGU Twitter Journal Club 5 — Policy briefing: Water resource resilience

8 Nov

It’s time for the fifth edition of the EGU’s Twitter Journal Club, our interactive online discussion about a timely scientific article. If you have not yet taken part in one of these discussions, read more about it in our introductory post and make sure to participate when we meet online next week! 

This time, we will be discussing the recent peer-reviewed policy briefing Water Resource Resilience, produced by the UK Parliamentary Office of Science & Technology (POST).

The discussion will take place on Twitter next Thursday 15 November at 14:00 CET, and you can take part by following the EGU’s Twitter account (@EuroGeosciences) and using the hashtag #egutjc5 on your tweets. Please email the EGU’s Science Communications Fellow Edvard Glücksman if you have any further questions.

Happy reading!

The availability of water resources is fundamental for society and economic activities. (Photo: Edvard Glücksman)

Water Resource Resilience

Published 17 September 2012 | POST notes POST PN 419

Summary. The availability of water resources is fundamental for society and economic activities. This POSTnote describes the reasons for uncertainties in water resource availability for future supply and demand and possible responses to managing these risks in the medium term.

Questions to think about:

1. How would you summarise this briefing in a tweet?

2. How does the framework presented here apply internationally, particularly in other European countries?

3. Why are Environmental Flow Indicators (EFIs) important?

4. What would you add to this paper, if given an extra two pages of space?


Roundup of EGU Twitter discussion on L’Aquila

29 Oct

On Friday, the EGU hosted a prolific Twitter discussion on the “Consequences of the L’Aquila verdict on the dialogue between science and society” where dozens of participants shared and discussed their thoughts on the verdict,  the scientific uncertainty surrounding earthquakes, and the outcomes of the decision for scientific research, communication, and education. You can now read the full transcript of the discussion on our Storify page.

If you didn’t get the chance to take part on the #eguAquila Twitter event, or would like to continue contributing to the discussion, you can do so on our blog forum.

Chris Rowan (@Allochthonous) summarises the L’Aquila issues in a tweet during Friday’s discussion


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