I’ve been playing with Twitter over the past few months, trying to see what it’s about, who’s using it and how. In all this time I’ve encountered only a handful of Twitterers who regularly mention microfluidics (although there are many who cover nanotechnology). Searches for “Lab on a Chip” turned up a few more accounts, but the total is pathetically small, much smaller even than the number of pharma companies on Twitter.
The sad, small list of microfluidics-related Twitter accounts (let me know if you can think of accounts to add!):
@microfluidics: Microfluidics lab at Johns Hopkins University
@LuisEnrique09: PhD sending breaking news about nanotechnology, MEMS, microfluidics
@NextAdvance: Company providing laboratory instruments for life sciences as well astechnical consulting for microfluidics
@Cellasic: Company providing microfluidic perfusion systems for live cell imaging, cell culture, & timelapse microscopy in biomedical research
@Affymetrix: Presumably the account of the Affymetrix company
@LabonaChip: Presumably the account for the RSC journal Lab on a Chip (0 Tweets)
@ufluidic: account held by Kevin Christ, member of Kevin Turner’s group at the University of Wisconsin at Madison
@TcatTomorrow: Steve Bitton, a technology analyst with interest in MCUs, robots, and medical technology (added Dec 2, 2009)
@scientwist: Ali Salehi-Reyhani, a member of Imperial College’s Single Cell Analysis Project (added Dec 2, 2009)
Why so few? Despite the number of microfluidics companies out there, a lot of the communication about microfluidics remains in the academic world, which has been slow to adopt Twitter and other forms of social media. Is the reluctance to use Twitter just an extension of the infamously introverted nature of most science types? Or is Twitter poorly suited to scientific communications–is something like FriendFeed a better fit? Why should people tweet about microfluidics? To whom should they tweet?
Also, with so many instances of Twittersquatting out there, it’s hard to know if the @Affymetrixor @LabonaChip accounts are even run by Affymetrix and Lab on a Chip. And a fair portion of the microfluidics tweets are actually job announcements (which seems like a decent indicator for the microfluidics market), but I wonder if they’re reaching their audience. Who’s reading these tweets besides me? Is the microfluidics community mostly lurking? Where is everyone?