Science can be scary. Even as a biology minor wanting to pursue science journalism, I’m a little intimidated by the ideas of quantum physics, thermochemistry, or developmental psychology. Unfortunately, it’s the stigma that science is hard that keeps a lot of people out of it, and once they’re out, it’s difficult to get them back again. With the access we have today, thanks to the Internet, there are myriad opportunities to make science easier to manage, more interesting, or, dare I say, even fun.
While the Internet is full of scientific studies and research done by field experts all over the world, these aren’t exactly something the average person wants to be reading in their spare time. Technical jargon, no pictures, and an overall lack of readability make these studies a burden to even skim through. The study on your screen could explain the cure to your asthma, your cousin’s Celiac disease, or your neighbor’s cancer, but without an intermediary to translate, the information might as well be lost.
The solution? Social media seems to have some of the best short-form science so far. Science pages abound, but there are “science” memes all over Facebook that are just plain wrong, content aggregators such as I Fucking Love Science are a reliable place for smart, snarky, and silly science content. IFLS posts content in the form of pictures, summaries, and links, from quotes from science greats and the latest discoveries to science-related comics and pictures of cute animals.
Twitter accounts from science periodicals and independent bloggers are another source of science tidbits that are easy to manage. Discover Magazine, for example, tweets quotes from interviews with experts in the field to give followers a taste of the topic without infodumping onto them. The microblogging style of Twitter also enables a poster to promote more articles in fewer words, increasing the likelihood that followers find something they are interested in rather than hoping that readers are interested in whatever makes the front page.
In the next post, we’ll take a look at the long-form science fun the Internet has to offer, so stay tuned!