GAM 2012 Blog

April 22

By Avivah Yamani

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In recent days, the way people communicate has changed. We still have the traditional way of communication, but along with it the digital world brought people into a new way of communication through social networking.

Cyber world became “more realistic” and people started to open about themselves and probably one will think there is no room for privacy anymore even though there are privacy settings to control whom you want to share with.

Social media users increase over time and it does facilitate people to communicate to each other and to reunite friends and family in the world.

How about Indonesia?

Social media became a new trend of communication and it does increase internet users rapidly in this developing country. World in you hand, probably we can say that to describe this new trend because majority of internet users in Indonesia are on mobile device.

Why social networks such as twitter and facebook have become famous? The reason is people in Indonesia loves to talk, cheap and the sense to build community based on interest (source :

The 3rd reason become the main reason for amateur astronomer as well as astronomy enthusiast to gather in a group and start a discussion about astronomy and observation activities. There are many groups maintain by each amateur club to discuss about astronomy. It doesn’t stop in a cyber discussion, all this group also maintain an offline gathering to have event together. The number of fans and follower increase especially when we have astronomy event such as meteor shower, lunar/solar eclipse, or “hoax issues”. Another advantage of social media for astronomy, educators can easily find astronomy club in social media and schools usually use this network to invite astronomer or amateur to teach as guest teacher in their schools.

We can simply say that social media bridging the gap for people to come and ask the scientist or people who have the knowledge.

So how about the astronomer in Indonesia?

Many young astronomers also use social network to build the networking with amateur astronomers and astronomer enthusiasts. A few researchers also use social network to discuss certain issues to public. But, still we have some issues regarding the use of social media to do science communication to public. Once, I met a professional researcher who said, “if you reach certain academic level, you can’t do outreach anymore because it is not scientific and the main focus of professional researcher is research”. At that time, I felt upset but then I met some other people who also said the same and some others also had opinion that social media is wasting time for scientist. Is it true?

Well as a communicator, I know it isn't true. I use social media to communicate and interact with public. In fact, some of the Twitter users I follow are professional astronomers who tweet and blog their scientific result and drag public attention to talk about the result in social media. But the issue of “social media is not scientific” still exist in my country and I think scientist or in this case astronomer must change their mind. Well... we can’t explain science in 140 character or explain everything in facebook status. But, we can write all explanation on facebook notes or blog it. Internet provide all the media for us to talk and communicate.

The question now, do we want to do this or keep reluctant and avoid all the new changes in the world.

Public needs the true science explanation to drag them away from all those hoaxes and false concept. The one who can do this is they who have the knowledge. And sometimes certain academic degree will give confidence for public to trust on them. So why not doing outreach as well as doing your research?

Social media is not for in depth explanation but we can build astronomy interest among public through many issues that spread rapidly through twitter, facebook or even BBM. Beautiful astronomy images, meteor shower, comet and asteroid close encounter, a new exoplanet, new space mission are several of many issues that drag people attention that we can’t avoid to give short message to them and drag public to blog or website who has in depth explanation regarding the issue. The good thing of social media for science is public can interact directly with the scientist.

So again, another question rouse. how to write a valuable article? A scientist is not a journalist or science communicator who can write easily about something in a simple explanation. But still you can do that. Just imagine you talk to your friends, relatives and family about your research or certain astronomy topic and write it down. Publish it and share it in all social network to get people attention and to start a new interaction with public. Other than that, astronomer in social media can work along with amateurs to communicate and build astronomy awareness for astronomy enthusiast all over the country.

Right now, Indonesia become the 4th largest facebook users and 3rd active twitter users so why not engage yourself with social network and start to communicate, collaborate with amateur and share knowledge with public?


Avivah Yamani, is an astronomer, blogger, writer and a communicator who works in langitselatan (Indonesia astronomy online media), astronomy magazine in Indonesia and involve with 365 Days of Astronomy as project manager. She is involved extensively with astronomy communication with the public, enjoying the challenge of conveying complex ideas in an easy-to-understand manner.