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Bloggers Wanted!

Posted by Mary Canady July 7th, 2009 .
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If you attended the Social Media for Scientists Event we had in May, you know that we are aiming to get more of you involved in the SDBN. One of the ways is through inviting you to write blog posts on the SDBN site. You can blog about events you attend, news or trends (any UC postdocs want to blog about the recent unionization?), or scientific topics of interest.

What’s in it for you? You’ll get exposure for yourself and your company/institution to the San Diego Biotechnology community (including hiring managers!) and experience blogging without having to start your own blog. Just submit your ideas to and we’ll be in touch to get the content.

Be creative–look for trends, anything newsworthy that you have unique insights on, or amusing things around you. Guides that others may find useful are also good, such as a list of resources. The tone can be amusing or irreverent, but we always want to have the aim of promoting biotechnology in the region.

We’ll look forward to hearing from you!


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Friendfeed: Life Scientists’ Biggest Little Secret

Posted by Mary Canady June 29th, 2009 .
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During our May 28th Social Media for Scientists (SMS) SDBN event, William Gunn talked about friendfeed as a useful tool for discussing science and learning. We polled the attendees before the event and found that they knew almost nothing about it, and had little interest in learning about it. We set up a friendfeed room for the group and frankly have not had much adoption.

So, what’s so great about friendfeed, why do we keep talking about it? Friendfeed aggregates all of your activity on social media, so that when you post anything on twitter, your blog, Flickr, etc. (58 social media applications are available), all of your connections there see it. Now, think of this used with a scientific ‘persona,’ if you will. You can share interesting articles, blog posts, presentations–some people even post data on Flickr–with your colleagues. Every post can be commented on, leading to interesting discussions. See this example of how friendfeed was used to stimulate and manage discussions regarding the conference, and the interest was so high that posts were thought to be spam!

Friendfeed takes it one step further, allowing you to form and join groups which focus on topics (see table below). You can benefit from group members’ posts, ask questions of the group, and take part in the discussions from any post. Scientists have been using the web to interact via forums and mailing list for a long time (we even discussed friendfeed vs. these older ways of communicating there). While someone pointed out that there is ‘nothing wrong with the old forums and mailing lists’ and that ‘you can post longer items using the old methods’ I see real value in the ’2.0′ forms of communicating such as friendfeed. With these types of social media, as with media such as twitter, often people post interesting observations that lead to unexpected comments and new directions–there is a level of serendipitous discovery that occurs. Also, because the groups are full of like-minded people, there is not much noise, and even discussions that are tangential to your work can be interesting. As William Gunn pointed out in our SMS presentation, you can also search all posts and comments from your friends or groups, leading to one of the most targeted web searches available (bing, eat your heart out).

One thing that I find incredibly interesting is that these groups can also become commentaries on larger issues. See the References Wanted group below–it is a repository for articles that scientists cannot access freely, and thus a commentary on the need for more open access science, paradigms that journals such as PLoS subscribe to. In addition, you’ll find that the scientists on friendfeed are keen to learn about new tools–see the Evernote Addicts group, a group dedicated to software for aggregating information that scientists (and others) find very useful. As with other types of social media, it is not clear what the lifetime of friendfeed’s relevancy will be, but you can be sure that the people here will be ahead of the curve in knowing what the ‘next big thing’ for scientists will be, even if it means moving away from friendfeed or being a ‘force’ to help change it.

As with other social media, the best way to learn is to try it yourself. I suggest signing up and subscribing to the groups below, getting email updates for convenience at first. We realize that some of you are still hesitant to join, and that’s OK. It turns out that Facebook and friendfeed have a lot of similarities, as a fan page can be set up for a group of people, and items can be posted on and discussed among members. We set up a SDBN fan page for this purpose, become a fan and start posting and interacting! We hope that it will give you a ‘taste’ of ‘serendipitous scientific social media’ and that you’ll be inspired to participate in tools such as friendfeed. We’ll also continue to help you learn more about the tools for science in social media through blog posts and events. As we mentioned at the SMS event, participating in social media gives you a way to get a ‘leg up’ from your colleagues in real time, and we think that once you start experiencing it, you’ll be as hooked as we are!

P.S. On friendfeed there is even a discussion on this post!

Friendfeed Groups for Life Scientists: Some Examples

Group Members Description
The Life Scientists 949 A room for all the life science types on FriendFeed (and everyone we’ve co-opted). Topics tend to focus on bioinformatics and computational biology, but discussion from any area in biological sciences is welcome.
Science Online 333 A room dedicated to online scientific communication. Previously: Science Blogging 2008.


51 Biology

Science News

197 News and discussion about interesting topics from the world of science.
References Wanted 93 This is a room to document the harm caused by closed/toll-access publication by collecting hard data to answer the frequent anti-OA attack "everyone has all the access they need already". Post here citations to journal articles you’d like to read/need for your work, but can’t get without paying a fee.
ScienceOnline 135 ScienceOnline09 – formerly known as Science Blogging Conference – will meet again in NC in January. 200+ people (and many more virtually) will discuss how the Web changes the way science is communicated, published, taught and done.
Evernote Addicts 1,193 For anyone who uses and loves Evernote. Discuss how you use it, what you’d like to see it do, and generally how it’s made your life better and more organized.
San Diego Biotechnology Network 18 Biotechnology professionals living/working in the greater San Diego area.

Don’t see a group that interests you? Search the friendfeed groups for your research area or anything you’re interested in, or start your own!

Posted by Mary Canady of Comprendia, which helps life scientists and the industry improve communication through social media and marketing strategies. Special thanks to Sally Church of Icarus Consultants & PharmaStrategyBlog for helping with the list of groups, and to the friendfeed life scientists group, who let this ‘marketer in scientist clothing’ participate in the group. Also thanks to William Gunn, for help and convincing me to persist with friendfeed even though I didn’t ‘get it’ at first.


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Social Media for Scientists Poll Results

Posted by Mary Canady June 28th, 2009 .
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Here are the results of the poll we took of attendees before the May 28th Social Media for Scientists SDBN Event. The presentation should be self-explanatory, contact us if you have any questions!


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Scientists: Is Modesty the Best Policy?

Posted by Mary Canady June 23rd, 2009 .

I recently looked over a company presentation for a friend and noticed something that I see a lot from scientists: she was being too modest in stating her reputation and abilities. When I pointed it out, it seemed as though I was suggesting that she should brag, a fate worse than death it appeared. Now, we all knew the jerk in grad school who acted like s/he can and did do everything, winning the favor of the advisor and not giving credit to others in the lab. I am not suggesting that scientists should overstate their abilities, but rather, be more confident and clearly communicate their skills and how they can benefit others.

I see this change in attitude being beneficial at many levels. On a personal level, scientists should think about what they’re good at early and often, and how to communicate it (also, if distinguishing talents don’t emerge, that needs to be worked on as well!). This is good for a scientist in developing his or her scientific progress as well as landing a job that fits well and positions them for maximum growth. See Comprendia’s Biotechnology Marketing 101: You First presentation for more hints on finding and communicating your ‘value proposition.’

Additionally, I see biotechnology as a whole benefiting from more confident, self-realized scientists. If companies find it easy to identify qualified candidates, either because they clearly post their abilities on LinkedIn or give great interviews, they save time and end up with employees who are a great fit and can communicate well. I also see scientists at companies being too modest at all levels, it doesn’t always ‘go away’ when a scientist leaves academia or reaches upper management. See Comprendia’s Biotechnology Marketing 101: Your Company for more details on clearly defining and communicating the value proposition of your company. Your business, science, and employees will all benefit when it is clear what your company excels at.

Who benefits when scientists are too modest? I can’t think of anyone. As long as you give credit where credit is due, and help others, you should realize that knowing and communicating your talents is the best way to advance the field. If you’re worried that you’re exaggerating, by all means ask for advice from some colleagues. Any fears about appearing too arrogant will likely be allayed by people who know you or your company, and they may even tell you that you’re still understating your abilities!

I sometimes feel as though I’m on the ‘other side’ of science since I concentrate on marketing, but I think I’ve got a good perspective on the importance of communication for success in biotechnology and life sciences. Success by any one of us means more success for all of us. Remember that many younger scientists are benefiting and learning from your science and your achievements–why understate them? As life scientists, we don’t have a Hippocratic Oath regarding our responsibilities to society, but maybe we should. Feel free to leave your ideas for one below!


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Social Media for Scientists: Video Resources for Life Science Researchers

Posted by Mary Canady June 17th, 2009 .

At the recent Social Media for Scientists Event, we talked about the fact that the trends you are seeing in ‘everyday life’ such as increased utilization of the internet to communicate, are also finding their way into scientific research. This is also true for the ‘YouTube’ revolution–there are an increasing number of video sites and resources for scientists. They range from visualized experiments, to reviews of current research and events, to wacky and fun ‘kitchen science’ such as the nerdiest ways to slice butter.

The resources range from dedicated sites and communities to simple YouTube playlists (see also this resource which lists independent resources with an emphasis on medicine). UCSD/SDSC’s Phil Bourne has started SciVee, which is a website dedicated to “changing the pace at which science is conducted and communicated.” You can participate by joining the independent sites and/or creating an account in YouTube and subscribing to the channels. Also, as with all social media, you’ll get the most out of it by participating directly. You can create your own playlists or even create your own videos–small video cameras are inexpensive and take great videos. Also, we’d LOVE to see your videos of local events, and we’ll feature them here and on YouTube. As always, we welcome your comments/additions!

Channel/Resource Type Description
SciVee Independent Enables researchers to combine video with documentation and data in a media rich format, we enable scientists to make their research more visible, shareable, and accessible throughout the research cycle.
JoVE (Journal of Visualized Experiments) Independent A peer reviewed, PubMed indexed journal devoted to the publication of biological research in a video format.
Nature Video Channel YouTube The latest innovations and ideas in all areas of science and technology.
DnaTube Independent A scientific site providing video based studies, lecturers and seminars.
National Center for Science Education YouTube Channel The NCSE is a nationally-recognized clearinghouse for information and advice to keep evolution in the science classroom and "scientific creationism" out.
Hydrocorax YouTube Channel Time-lapse nature paintings.
California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) YouTube Channel Interviews relevant to stem cell research and regenerative medicine.
Stacystube YouTube Channel A product of–original videos and playlists
Integrative Biology 131 YouTube Playlist Integrative Biology 131: General Human Anatomy. Fall 2005. Professor Marian Diamond. The functional anatomy of the human body as revealed by gross and microscopic examination.
MIT 7.012 YouTube Playlist Introduction to Biology, Fall 2004. The MIT Biology Department core courses, 7.012, 7.013, and 7.014, all cover the same core material, which includes the fundamental principles of biochemistry, genetics, molecular biology, and cell biology.
Bill Nye the Science Guy 1/2 YouTube Playlist Comedian/scientist Bill Nye stars as the genial host of this popular, fast-moving show designed to get kids interested in the science of everyday, and some not-so-everyday, things.
Science Experiments YouTube Playlist Simple science experiments.
Joannelovesscience YouTube Channel Joanne reviews some of her favorite science books and discusses stem cells for the layman.
Cell Press Video YouTube Channel Showcases some of the important findings published in Cell Press journals, covering the full spectrum of biology.
Periodic Table of Videos YouTube Channel This channel has a video about each element on the periodic table from the University of Nottingham.
Nottingham Science YouTube Channel See behind-the-scenes footage and other material from scientists working across a range of interesting subjects, including physics, chemistry, biology and engineering
Cell Medicine YouTube Channel Original stem cell videos describing current research.
NewScientist YouTube Channel International team of expert journalists brings you the latest innovations and ideas in science and technology, from the wonderful to the worrying to the weird.
Potholer54 YouTube Channel This channel is dedicated to explaining science in a way that most intelligent people can understand.
ScienCentral YouTube Channel From broadcast news features to educational products, we cover the medical, environmental, and technological issues that affect daily life.
Wired Science YouTube Playlist Each week, the Wired Science Video Podcast reports on the latest in green tech, health, science, bioethics and space exploration
Compare Networks/BioCompare YouTube Channel Funny videos from Life Science companies–mostly commercials, but very entertaining.
World Lecture Project Independent A video library with links to audio and video lectures of each faculty and from all over the world; and with a search engine that helps you find the lecture of your choice.

Special thanks to the folks at the friendfeed Life Scientists group for helping me compile this list, especially @BoraZ. Here is the original post, it illustrates the power of friendfeed!