Jul 162015
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Markus Wei?kopf and Thorsten Witt

Wissenschaft im Dialog

JUnQ, 5, 2, XVI–XVIII, 2015

In the space of a few years, the internet has radically altered our media consumption. The average internet usage in Germany increased from 17 minutes per week in 2000 to 111 minutes per week in 2014, making the internet the third most popular media type after television and radio. Every day the internet is used for twice as long as print media. Among 14–19 year olds, who use the internet for an average of 233 minutes per day, the internet is the medium of choice, well ahead of all other media. Social media accounts for a significant proportion of internet use: 24% of 14–19 year olds spend over two hours a day on Twitter, Facebook, etc.; another 28% spend over an hour. Social media have also brought about major changes in our usage behavior – we are no longer merely recipients and consumers of information but have become active users and even creators.

Science communication has also changed as a result of these developments. According to a recent study, 45% of Germans use the internet as a source of information on scientific issues; among the under-30s, this figure is currently at 68%. Statistics from the USA and UK suggest that these percentages are likely to rise sharply in the coming years and that the internet is increasingly replacing classical media as a source of information.

What are the implications of these changes for one of the main players in science communication, namely the scientists themselves? In the following pages, we will explore this and related questions, including how scientists’ communication with the public has changed as a result of social media, and the opportunities and risks involved.

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  3 Responses to “The Opportunities and Risks of Social Media in Science Communication”

  1. […] Wei?kopf und Thorsten Witt berichten im Journal of Unsolved Questions (JUNQ) ?ber die Auswirkung von Sozialen Netzwerken auf die externe Wissenschaftskommunikation. Im […]

  2. […] and Markus Wei?kopf from Wissenschaft im Dialog, a German institution for science communication, describe the changes, opportunities and risks of science communication through social media in their article for the newest issue of the Journal of Unsolved Questions […]

  3. > “The distinction between media creators and consumers is removed.”

    From my point of view this statement is too strong. I would say that the distinction between media creators and consumers is “blurred” and not “removed”. The fact that many consumers (not everybody) are able to produce valuable content means not that they are able to do this on an everyday basis and with a broad scope. The questions are: Would it be sufficient that everybody is consumer AND producer of content (for free)? Or do we still need people that professionally produce content (and make a living out of it)?

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