Last week, I sent out a request via Twitter–I asked chemists to send me popular hashtags that they use in their tweets. I don’t know that I need to introduce hashtags to the Newscripts audience, but just in case, hashtags are those words you see on Twitter preceded by the # sign, such as #ACSSanDiego. Folks use them to wade through the morass of tweets because they help classify tweets by topic, conference, location, etc.
I thought I’d share with you why I sent out said request. Part of the reason is to have a handy list of hashtags for chemists in one place. But it also has to do with my upcoming talk at the San Diego ACS national meeting. I’m part of ACS President Bassam Shakhashiri’s symposium, “Communicating Science to the Public”, which takes place Monday afternoon in the convention center. Click on the image to get the full lineup from the meeting program.
I’ll be talking about how C&EN reporters have our collective ears to ground of the chemistry world, and from time to time end up being sources of information for media outlets with a broader reach. For example, C&EN reporter and Fine Line blogger extraordinaire Rick Mullin was a guest on NPR’s Science Friday earlier this month, talking about unusual pharma partnerships. And in January I went on SiriusXM’s Doctor Radio channel to chat about how drugs get their generic names.
We reporters keep tabs on what chemists are talking about in many ways, but I’d like to emphasize Twitter in my talk (even though it is limited to a small group of chemists who are self-selecting to communicate with social media).
That’s where you and your hashtags come in. I could think of a few hashtags that have become symbolic of issues chemists care about.
#chemjobs – chemistry employment
#altchemicalfree – chemophobia in advertising and the mass media
#SheriSangji – everything related to the lab fire that killed UCLA lab assistant Sheri Sangji and the ongoing case, but I’ve also seen it referred to in general discussions of safety in chemistry labs
And so I decided to put out the call to see if any more such hashtags would pop out at me from the big list. Of course, many hashtags come and go, and some are more active than others. And still others are just for fun, like #chemvalentine, which was a collection of chemistry related love missives timed to Valentine’s Day. But I strongly believe that chemists are using social media to talk about issues that matter to them, and the number of issues is only going to go up the longer those channels are around. Anyone in the business of covering or communicating chemistry should be up on those conversations.
I’ll happily take more hashtag suggestions, or suggestions for meaningful conversations happening on Twitter, all the way up to Sunday March 25th. Email me or send me a message on Twitter @carmendrahl.
In the meantime, here’s the collection of hashtags you sent so far. Please note: I haven’t checked all of these to see whether they are active.
#chemistry (which, as Adam Azman points out, has been co-opted for other purposes as well).
UPDATED March 21:
Thanks to folks who emailed me or sent me a message on Twitter with a few more hashtags.
#polymer or #polymers