I was amazed today to see a piece in Cell about whether scientists should twitter. In it David Bradley compares his twitter following to that of two celebrity tweeters, ‘Richard Dawkins has almost 25,000 followers on his Twitter feed; the actor Ashton Kutcher has 3.8 million‘.
I wrote very excitedly about the appearance of @richard_dawkins back in 2008. I thought that his appearance on twitter would legitimise the medium for scientists and encourage others to experiment with it. Unfortunately, I got a stock publicity comment on the blog from ‘dawkins’ and it was shown to be an imposter. So I checked back from the Cell article today and I was rather surprised to see that the account was still alive and had such a big following (25,879). I assume that this is the account to which David refers, since it has just over 25,000 followers. Interestingly @richarddawkins has almost as many followers (17,680). The latter links to richarddawkins.net the former to Richarddawkins.com. Neither twitter account has a ring of authenticity to it, no conversation, just broadcast. Both could easily be simple ways to make a lot of money on amazon click through ads, but my money is on @richarddawkins as the legitimate source (richard_dawkins follows some suspect peeps and as much as we would all like to see Dawkins following The Official Jesus, and God, I can’t quite see it happening).
So, two accounts, neither embracing twitter in any way other broadcasting. What a shame and a wasted opportunity to engage.