Twitter and the elevator pitch

Last week, Namnezia made this observation on the Twitterz:

Tweeting skills come in useful when submitting preproposal abstract capped at 750 characters.

I replied as such:

@Namnezia Except u can’t use the same abbrev we use to shorten our tweets in sci abstracts.

To which Namnezia replied with this totally winning tweet:

@microdro Pls fund my MF Sci Proj, cos IMO it’s totes cool and I need $$$, even if sci’s LOL 2 U. YMMV.

I <3. While this ROFL moment was quite enough brilliance, Nam’s original tweet also got me thinking: can Twitter actually serve a purpose outside of social networking by sharpening our skills of pith?

As this idea stewed, I began wading through my PubMed updates on Google Reader. While making the decision to click the link or not from one abstract to the next, I started wondering how well I could summarize some of the more… esoteric articles. Could I do a better job than the authors? Was it possible to summarize the driest of scientific reports on my reading list with more brevity, while still conveying their essence – and maybe even make them sound interesting?*

So here’s an exercise for those out there with some *free* time. Find an obscure scientific article – one of your own, or just on a topic of interest to you – and Twitterize it (i.e., summ in ≤140 char). It took me about 5 minutes to do this with one of the drier articles on my RSS feed. I’m not sure if it was a waste of time or not, but today, as I work up my newest manuscript abstract, I think Nam might be on to something.

*to someone besides myself or others in my sub-sub-sub-field


2 thoughts on “Twitter and the elevator pitch

  1. Ha! Didn’t know you admired my tweeting skills so much! But I think you’re onto something. About once a month, during lab meeting, we go over relevant journal articles. Each person is assigned one or two journals and they have to go over relevant papers that came out during the last month. That way everyone keeps abreast of the literature and we cover a much wider breadth of journals than if each of us did this on their own. The problem is that people take for fucking ever to summarize the gist of each article and this lab meeting takes for ever and ever and everyone dreads it. I should institute the summarize the article in 140 characters or less rule. If people are interested, you can then elaborate more, or present it in journal club.

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