Being a PhD student, we are trying to build our scholoarship in five to seven years through literature review, conducting independant research, and peer-reviewed publication. However, the real haunting question that I asked myself every once a while is this:
How to make an IMPACT on your community and the general public?
It is particularly true when I am approach the end of my PhD studies. To advertise work and promoting myself become more than a concept in the PhD orientation book. It is an urgent need. So the question gradually changed to
How to make yourself KNOWN to your community and the general public?
Other than doing good research and advertising my work to my peers through traditional approaches, such as:
- Publish a journal paper
- Give a oral / poster presentaton in a conference
- Be reported by magazines or local/national news (if ever possible)
Some of the recent trends that people around me start to use are catching my eyes, e.g.
- Publish code / tools online
- Build a website and write online tutorial / books
- Share their work in social media
- Be involved in online forum discusson
Although, these are much less formal communication, it does raise people’s attention to my works and attract potential collaborators.
What is Web 2.0?
Accroding to Wikipedia,
Web 2.0 describes World Wide Web websites that emphasize user-generated content, usability (ease of use, even by non-experts), and interoperability (this means that a website can work well with other products, systems and devices) for end users.
Tim O’Reilly, one of advercate of the concept of Web 2.0, emphasized on his webpage that Service instead of Software become the basis of the Web. The center of service is the content that delivered through those service. One company or a few of companies are never able to deliver all those useful content to the general public. It is up to the user to become the content provider. Hence, in the age of the Web 2.0, we are searching for the best serice that can help ourselves, as users, to deliver our content to the rest of users.
What can Web 2.0 do for researchers?
So why does this matters to researchers? We, researchers, are naturally content creators that are constantly searching for the best way to make ourselves heard. We can achieve that by doing the following through many available services:
- Communication / social media (Facebook / Twitter / Wechat)
- Online publishing / advertising (My Webiste / The Rust Programming Language)
- Code sharing / community development (GitHub / BitBucket)
- Online disucssion and Q&A forum (Reddit / StackOverflow / Disqus)
The Web 2.0 provide a list of tools that can help us get there faster and in a elegent way:
- Static Site / book
- Online demo / app
The Basic Concepts
To understand all these new tools and softwares, we need first ask ourselves: “Why do they exists in the first place?” Isn’t that our old tools are good enough for the communication and publishing needs? The answer is simple: “Yes they are.” The traditional publishing scheme is more than sufficient to help us release the research work and make it known to the scientific community. Sometimes, I even feel that they are more than enough. Nowadays, we have more and more journals and endless conference that we can show the world the andvance we made in our research frontier. But that gradually becomes a problem: the overwhelm of information that actually made many of us ignorance to many information. Close circles starts to form (like in WeChat) that share most relevent research updates to a restricted group of peopel. We are less likely to go to many big conference but in favor of small focused workshops. In some sense, the current simualtion actually makes it more difficult, especially for the new-comers in the research field, to get your idea across to people that works on the similar field.
The Web 2.0 emerges along with the self-publishing community that believes in quick and straight forward communication. It is the ideal tool that we, as young researchers, can take advantage of to advertise our work and promoting ourselves in the community. More importantly, it helps us to find folks like us that take internet collaboration to it full extend. The website and repository we created along the way of our communication and collobartion will easily serves as cornerstones for commercialize our research after our graudation. In some sense, you, as a PhD student, are running a small startup company that focuses on a small nitch of a research field. Only have a R&D departmet in your company is not enough for a success enterpenue. The website serves as a front page of your company while the repository is the demo of the products. At the end of the day, you can both selling your research as products as well as promoting yourself as a company. So, for the next a few posting, I will introduce the common tools for self-publishing and help you get up-to-speed with this fast train.