iCHSTM 2013 Programme • Version 5.3.6, 27 July 2013 • ONLINE (includes late changes)
| Paper sessions timetable | Lunch and evening timetable | Main site
E302. Discussion: social media, public engagement and the history of science, technology and medicine
Mon 22 July, 16:00–17:40Uni Place 1.219
Special session organiser: Rebekah Higgitt twitter | Royal Museums Greenwich, United Kingdom
With contributions from:
Rebekah Higgitt twitter | Royal Museums Greenwich, United Kingdom
Vanessa Heggie twitter | University of Birmingham, United Kingdom
Alice Bell, University of Sussex (online from Science in Public 2013)
Gregory Hollin twitter | University of Nottingham, United Kingdom
Lucy Veale, University of Nottingham (online from Science in Public 2013)
Nathaniel C Comfort, Johns Hopkins University (online)
Darin Hayton, Haverford College (online)

Fittingly, this session will use a social media platform to bring together, online, a panel of individuals at two conferences and in two countries, in order to discuss the issues raised by engaging with different audiences through social media. It is a panel that sits within the programmes of both the Manchester-based International Congress and the 8th Annual Science in Public Conference, being held at the University of Nottingham. The panel consists of speakers with experience of using social media and engaging with other groups and the wider public in a range of personal and professional contexts.

The session will include several short presentations before opening out to wider discussion. The focus will be on individuals’ experiences of using social media to reach out to wider, or other, audiences on the history of science, technology and medicine, and related topics. It will introduce the audience to some of the different forms and uses of social media and focus on how it can bridge or divide online communities. The speakers will probe the categories of academia, social media and the public, and discuss the importance of listening and two-way communication rather than simply broadcasting.

It is notable that social media has played an important role in developing links between the history of science and other fields in the humanities and social sciences. However, online communities can also encourage tribalism and lead to clashes with other groups. The session will explore whether such clashes can be productive, or if there greater danger of closing down communication and defining opposing sides. Participants will reflect on the ways in which online context may change what we choose to say, and how, and what we can learn from those who have interacted with groups that have very different agendas.

The session will give some historical context to the role of public engagement, and future uses of social media in engaging the public with science and its history. It is clear that social media blurs the lines between expert and lay, colleagues and public, subjects and audiences, and that this can be hugely rewarding and productive, but also provocative and troubling.

This session will be followed by an informal tweetup at the Ducie Arms pub.

Location: University Place 1.219
Part of: University Place