In a spurt of not giving a fuck (and I hadn’t even read the book yet), I decided to give it a go. I asked the keeper of the twitter account @people_of_space if a person like me, a starting scicommer with little followers, would qualify for hosting the account for a day. And I was. This week would turn out to be a week where I learned more than I could have imagined. And I even found some confidence.
Space is for everyone
Tara created people_of_space so people from all walks of life could talk about their passion to a larger audience. Space is for everyone. So one week, it’s people who work in the space industry sharing what they do. The other it may be an enthusiastic amateur astro-photographer sharing their pictures. I think it’s an amazing concept and it really shows that people from all walks of life and from anywhere in the world have something to say about space. And anything that comes with it. Last week I hosted the account and I admit the closer the moment came, the more nervous I became. I had plans on what I wanted to talk about, but what if people didn’t want to hear about that?
In the week ahead I had some encouraging words over twitter, telling me that I could do anything, it was my week. Also, in a conversation a German astrophysicist mused whether #SpaceComm could be a thing, working nicely with the already known and used hashtag #scicomm. “Now, here’s something I can talk about!” I answered. I also stuck close to my twitter bio: Space, Cats, Aliens and Star Trek. Also, science writer. What does that even mean? Where do I write? I can do this! I can actually find good topics that are space and that also reflect on who I am. Just stick to that, I said, and it’ll be fine. There’s no plottwist here. I was fine. More than fine.
Aliens, Star Trek and Space Cats
Not all subjects I talked about gained an equal responds. My thread about the Netherlands Space Society didn’t seem to be doing much. Which may be okay of course. I ran two polls and was massively surprised that the poll about Aliens had much more responds than the one about Star Trek. It gave me the confidence boost to talk more about Aliens on my own account as well. People do believe in Extraterrestrial Intelligence. And some space people are too open to alien abduction stories, it’s not just me. I created #AlienFriday. I will keep using that. Who cares that I’m the only one using it? It now belongs to my space communication. And so does Star Trek, space people like Star Trek and their references.
Space Cats on Thursday was amazing. I have thought long and hard whether to talk about Felicette, the first cat that went into space. She’s not that well known. The cats were used for research and that’s what I find hard to talk about. I can’t look at pictures of animal neglect and abuse. Her story is a tad different but still. She was the first (and only) real space cat. I had to mention it. And I found it hard. But the responds was overwhelming! So much love and sympathy. I’m glad I mentioned her. My wife later added that it was also good, because using animals (against their will) is part of the space program and it’s important to talk about it, even when it’s more comfortable to just ignore that part. (I have skipped the part about the mice in Scott Kelly’s book for instance.)
Interaction and information
I was quite lucky with a relative quiet week at work. I could write most threads under office hours. So a small thank you for my colleague who didn’t mind doing a bit more that week is in order. Though I won’t tell him directly. I was also able to interact with people and that turned out to be easier than i thought. Someone asked me about blogging. It was nice to give some advice. Also people asked about CHEOPS, which was really cool as well.
What I learned was that I really enjoy talking about Space and sharing information. What I learned was that you can use a Star Trek gif or reference when applicable. I learned to talk about aliens when I wanted to, despite what others might think. I also learned that it actually didn’t bother me that some threads did better than others. It was interesting to see this development. And it’s good to know that you never know what will spark a discussion. It is also timing after all. The most important thing I learned was, well, that I have been downright lazy before.
SpaceComm learning experience
Here I am, science writer, scicommer. Granted, I can’t do this full time as I have a office job. But I shouldn’t just wait until subjects present themselves to me, that’s not how it works. I knew that. But it’s how I often did my social media (to my followers: I’m deeply sorry for that). This past week made me think about contents, made me make a strategy. Exactly what my social media course had taught me but I hadn’t put in practice yet. And you know what, I really enjoyed that. This week has given me more confidence and more insight. Maybe it was because, no matter how you look at it, you are representing the account People of Space and you want to do it justice. And that helped.
I wil take all that back to my own account. I want to do it justice as well. I’ve added #SpaceComm to my twitter bio, because that’s exactly what I’ll continue to do. I’ll see about how #SpaceCatsonThursday will develop but I definitely will keep #AlienFriday if only that it will force me to keep talking aliens. And I want to keep talking about aliens. I’ve already been asked if I’d like to host again in the future. Ask me again after a couple of months and I’ll talk Space Comm. This is just getting started. And then I might tell about what I learned, how cool would that be? People of Space, you are amazing.