Partically perfect in every way: thanks and farwell David Zaslavsky

David Zaslavsky (@ellipsix) is a postdoctoral researcher in physics at Central China Normal University and joined Real Scientists in mid August. David introduced us to his research in a very succinct manner – tweet perfect!

But it didn’t take long before things got WEIRD. Particle physics weird.

Luckily, David made this excellent picture to help us understand

David also let the cat out of the bag about the super secret physics project of marshmallow monster creation. So this is how they plan to take over the world…

We asked David to complete our post-curation interview, which he kindly agreed to do and his answers are below.

In general terms, how did you find your week as a curator?        

Overall, it was okay. There were a lot of ups and downs; some topics went over well and others did not.

It can be a shock talking to so many. Did you find the sudden rush of interactions (good and bad) daunting?           

It was surprising, but not really daunting, though perhaps only because I had enough free time to respond to people! I’d say the interactions I got were universally good. The worst were a few unsolicited tweets advertising commercial products or pushing for discussion topics outside my scope (which I ignored), but they weren’t really that bad.

What were the highlights? Were there any lowlights?        

It was pretty nice that my tweet-length explanations of my research, which I consider to be relatively obscure and very complicated, seemed to be well received. I was especially surprised that a lot of people expressed interest in hearing more about numerical methods! On the other hand, some of my tweeting about China offended a lot of people (and in retrospect I have to agree with them), which was definitely a low point.

Is there anything you wanted to get out of / do on the RS account that you didn’t manage to fit in?

I would have liked to share more of my experiences in China, since that’s the main reason I thought I would be an interesting curator in the first place. Other than that, I managed to touch on all the topics I had in mind going in. A lot of the discussions, especially about science communication, were really interesting and I would have liked to continue them, but that would take away from other things I wanted to get to.

Did you have a plan? If so, did you stick to it?       

Going in I had a rough idea of the major topics I wanted to cover: my research, life in China, my interest in science communication, my hobbies, and the culture of doing science. I also thought it would be good to dedicate each day to a different topic. And that’s basically how it worked out. But I filled in the details of the plan as I went along, e.g. switching around which topic would go on which day, and sometimes I’d return to a topic from an earlier day because people were asking interesting questions about it.

Do you have any tips or advice for future RS curators?

Sure! Dear future hypothetical curator:

1. If you’re going to Storify your tweets, it’s best to add tweets to Storify each day as you go, not all at the end. Their interface for adding tweets gets harder and harder to work with the further back in time you go.

2. Threading conversations by replying to your previous tweets really helps people follow them, so do that. And you can thread without actually including @realscientists in the tweet, so it doesn’t cost you any characters (I learned that from a follower).

3. With such a large audience, be prepared for the possibility that someone calls you out on any inaccuracy (or perceived inaccuracy) in anything you post. People do like to hear about things other than the science you do, but it’s a lot safer to stick to topics where you have expertise.

4. If my experience is any indication, engagement with the account directly correlates to how much you tweet. The more active you are, the more follows, retweets, mentions, and favorites you’ll get.

5. The Twitter web interface sucks for managing a high-activity account. Tweeting and reading at the same time would have you jumping back and forth between different pages. I used TweetDeck for the week and its multicolumn view was a huge help.

What other people or accounts should people follow if they enjoyed your tweets this week?

On my regular account @ellipsix I keep lists of people who tweet interesting things about various types of science. I couldn’t do better than to recommend people look at those lists. If I had to select just a few… @AstroKatie, @rjalainn, @startswithabang, @orzelc, @BadAstronomer, and a few less well-known @emcconover, @gravitate_to_me, @RobertGaristo, @DrAndreDavid, but there are many others.

Thanks once again David from all of us here at RealScientists HQ. If you missed anything from his week, the tweets are all collated at the following link.


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