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Twitter and iMechanica

MichelleLOyen's picture

How many iMechanica users are on Twitter?  And how many are on Twitter with professional contacts? 

 I started to use Twitter about 4 months ago in a completely social, non-professional context.  As a personal (expat-focussed) blogger, I started to notice that I was
catching blog posts in my Twitter feed before I would see them in my
feed aggregator (Bloglines).   Twitter has emerged as a different sort
of feed aggregator, as well as a provider of information. 

But I soon started to find that there were potentially useful scientific links on Twitter.  I've got an upcoming meeting with a research colleague, who I met through Twitter, and I think this may be an interesting way to connect with other researchers.  But beyond direct interactions wtih individual people, institutions have picked up on Twitter in the past few months.   Most of the UK and US funding agencies are on Twitter.  Most Universities now have a Twitter feed, as do some departments, including engineering departments .   Twitter has emerged as a mechanism for quick and easy dissemination of information--grants agencies are the most obvious in this regard, in that their newsfeeds tend to  provide information about current grant opportunities and deadlines.  I 'follow' them without needing them to 'follow' me and I don't necessarily expect there to be much communication with them in the form of @ replies or direct messages. 

The web is a great source of information, and the best ways to obtain information are constantly changing.  iMechanica has been proven to be a useful source of information to the mechanics community; I don't know what role Twitter will have but I suspect there is one, and that it is both different to, and complementary to, the existing role of iMechanica.   My personal blog has a link to my personal Twitter feed, and the two seem to have different purposes and different roles in modern web-based communications.  My 'professional' website , which is built on a blog platform using Wordpress as a content management system, now has a link to my 'professional' Twitter feed.  

If you wish to follow my 'professional' feed on Twitter, I'm @michelleoyen .     



Zhigang Suo's picture

Dear fearless Michelle:  Thank you for this post.  I recall vaguely that I signed up for a twitter account, but never used it.  Once in a while I get an email that says so and so is following me on twitter.  A colleague here actually writes on twitter several times a day.  Let us know if you find a way for iMechanica to use twitter.

MichelleLOyen's picture

I think Twitter is like any other new technology--there has to be critical mass and enough people in the community participating.  But I think it has potential.  And I think it's like any other new technology in that you have to decide you're interested in it and try it out for a while.  None of these things (blogging, or any web 2.0 application, social media) serve any purpose if you never use them.  I'm sure I don't take much advantage of the networking site Linked In even though I have an account there and a handful of connections.  But a number of my professional colleagues are my facebook friends, and since I typically check that most days, we sometimes have work-related conversations via that medium even though it's intended more for social use.

Certainly it would be sensible for iMechanica to have one or more Twitter account and to send updates for key posts--i.e. categorized in jobs, conferences, commentary, etc.   I also hoped to suss out which other mechanicians are using Twitter so I could follow them and vice versa.  I'd be interested to know which colleague of yours you are mentioning!

I do note that Twitter is currently blocked in China, which is unfortunate.   

Google reader is also an excellent web tool for updates of posts in bog and forum.

Zhigang Suo's picture

Eric Mazur, a colleague in Applied Physics, writes regularly on twitter.  His account is

Dear Michelle,

i know twitter a few months ago but just signed yesterday, so, it's surprise to see your post about twitter here. The first impression about twitter is that it's not easy find someone to follow, as there are rare friends and related researchers there. Maybe, it will become a new daily communication tool for us if more and more mechanics sign and post there.


MichelleLOyen's picture

Xu, I agree completely, and it was partly my motivation in posting this to try and see who else was out there that I might be able to follow and vice versa, to get a community going within iMechanica.  I also find that the best way to find people to follow is to find even just one person you know, and see who they are following and who follows them.  I also searched for all the relevant granting agencies in the UK (they ALL had twitter accounts!) and also for things related to my University and the town in which I live.  But most of all, I find more and more websites have a little button somewhere on there that says "follow (name) on Twitter!" and now I'm trying to get into the habit of clicking on those whenever I see them.

Alejandro Ortiz-Bernardin's picture

Dear Michelle,

I do agree that social networks like Twitter is a very good way to interact with others. Personally, I am addicted to Facebook in the same way I am addicted to iMechanica. But both for different and divergent reasons. Facebook to be in contact with my relatives and people who I consider my friends with the objective to share personal things that I would barely share with people that I don't know; and iMechanica to be in contact with people who are not necessarily my friends but can provide useful information in what is interesting to me in the professional stage. Having said that, I did a quick survey at school among friends and most of them agreed that they would seldom use such a network for doing professional things. Moreover, most of them would never mention even the word *face* to their bosses, so that there wouldn't be any chance to receive a friend request from them, in this case through *Face*book. I can understand that people can foster a great relationship with their bosses, but to have a very close relationship is not the common case. From here I conclude that one person having Facebook or Twitter to share personal things with colleagues and possibly their bosses, would need to set up another different account to share professional things. I personally would not do that since for me with one facebook account is enough to be addicted to.

This was the first part of my argument. The second part is possibly better.  
I like the current state of iMechanica and the purpose it serves. Here we have a solid professional network (and some of us also have Facebook or Twitter friends here). iMechanica is very active in a daily basis. The point you mention that Universities, funding agencies, etc., are joining Twitter can be explained for the lack of a powerful network as iMechanica is. For instance, I never follow what happens in the international association of student at my school. This might be what other students also do. When this is the case, such type of associations must join Twitter or Facebook to be in touch with students and make sure they have a chance to read the information through different means (I have many of these associations in my Facebook account). The point is to gain the interest of people. This is certainly not the case of iMechanica. I believe all here read iMechanica very often because is really interesting to us. Thus, iMechanica does not need to find any other means to get in touch with its members. Therefore, I don't feel that there is a need for iMechanica to join Twitter or any other social network. Now, addressing your point of posting jobs, etc., through Twitter, the same apply. We have at the top of this blog a link to job and many other interesting things. Also, you can set up feeds to read recent posts (and I think other information too) on a daily basis through e-mail without the need to be permanently connected to iMechanica.

My kindest regards,


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