Thoughts about the 1st Brain Twitter Conference27 May 2017
I presented my work at the 1st Brain Twitter Conference, hosted by the Aalto Brain Centre. Here are my thoughts about the experience.
The 1st Brain Twitter Conference was hosted on Twitter on the 20th of April, 2017. The conference events consisted of Twitter “talks” (let’s call them Twalks). Each twalk had the structure:
- Announcement tweet of the twalk by the Aalto Brain Centre, who acted as the chair.
- A string of n tweets by the presenter (with images/gifs/videos attached)
There were two types of twalks - presentations and keynotes. Each presentation consisted of 6 tweets by the presenter, and the keynote consisted of 10 tweets. Each presentation was allotted 15 minutes for the tweet delivery while the keynotes lasted 30 minutes. During the presentation and the keynotes, others were free to ask questions, and all the proceedings were recorded under the hashtag #brainTC. Aalto Brain Centre retweeted the tweets of the twalks so one could easily cut through the comments and follow the twalks.
Ckeck out the Storify of the conference.
Thoughts about the Conference
- Condensing your work to 6 tweets seems like an impossibility, but the conference showed that it is possible without toning down scientific rigour. Images become extremely important and need to stand their own ground. Using images directly from your publication seems tempting, but the captions seem cumbersome. The focus should be on the pictorial flow of ideas within the image. It wasn’t an easy task for me (took a week and multiple discussions with the team to get things right). It was fun.
- #braintc was abuzz with discussions. There weren’t many well-known names. Maybe they were merely spectating. It somehow felt like the initial outreach of the conference was not sufficient to capture the attention of well-known researchers. I guess after the success of this edition, the next edition will enjoy a wider group of participants. Given the ease (?) of organising, compared to other conferences, I guess we should have two or three Brain Twitter Conferences in a year. It was awesome of the Aalto Brain Centre to host the first edition, but if we are to host multiple conferences in a year, other research groups should pick up the torch.
- We had a nice discussion about the importance of scientific blogging as a part of PhD training. Most research is highly specific. Viewing the work in a broader perspective would be useful to us as scientists and would make it easier for the public to understand what we are doing. That discussion got me thinking - it wouldn’t be a bad idea to host panel discussions on such topics as a part of the conference. The organiser’s Twitter handle could tweet about the issue/idea, and the discussion could follow as replies to that tweet creating a tree under that tweet. That could be tried in the next edition. We could also have a dedicated event where people provide general introductions to new ideas, which might be half-baked, and could receive feedback about them from the community.
All in all, it was an enjoyable experience. I remember people being skeptical about this format, but it turned out fine. I am looking forward to many more of these conferences!