Saturday, July 12, 2014

The social media revolution in fashion (and its parallels to science)

I came across this article in the May 2014 issue of Vogue: "Follow Me! Kate Upton Leads the Charge of Models Who've Gone Crazy for Social Media". The entire article itself is worth a read, and as I was paging through I noticed some quotes that could have been easily applied to social media and science:
Is fashion, at least as it is presented on the runway, really still doing this? The no-personality, samey-samey thing? Is it any wonder so many models have taken to Twitter and Instagram and Facebook and Tumblr to establish themselves as actual humans, with quirks, style, and interests all their own? No one should be the least bit surprised that Upton, who looks nothing like most models, has stormed the gates. The hunger for personality—for stars—in the modeling world is just that great.
Are scientists still really being presented as stereotypes, the parade of old white men? It's no wonder that the younger generation of researchers are now presenting their own, diverse public faces on Twitter and other social media.
For models these days, social media offer the promise of a different kind of career: one that is more connected, more fulfilling, and, if they are lucky (and want it), lasts longer than three or four years. And while there’s nothing surprising about the fact that this new crop feels comfortable on social media—they are part of the generation that’s grown up on them—it still takes a certain mastery of the form (your own jargon, an irresistible personality) to really stand out. Even then, the top models might have only one million followers, as opposed to the tens of millions that actors and pop stars have. 
In the wake of Kate Upton’s social-media-fueled rise, models are grappling with exactly how to present themselves. “It’s a really interesting opportunity for them,” says Lara Cohen, Twitter’s head of TV and film talent, “because it gives them a voice and makes them more three-dimensional. There’s no shortage of pictures of Coco Rocha out there, but to know that she likes watching New Girl humanizes her.”
I strongly believe that social media helps to humanize scientists too, and steer us away from the "unfeeling robot" perception.
There’s no such thing as living in the moment anymore. Thanks to social media, every event, from the Super Bowl to the State of the Union, from the Olympics to your best friend’s wedding, now happens in real time and “real” time. It certainly has completely transformed our experience of Fashion. As Zac Posen says, “I think the big transition started almost a decade ago, with the realization that fashion had gone beyond the industry and had become fashion-tainment.” Posen, of course, is a judge on Project Runway, a show whose success has served to point out that, surprisingly enough, untold millions are fascinated by how dresses are made—and how someone from Kalamazoo gets to Fashion Week.
Social media is changing science too, helping connect people to the researchers doing the work and relaying the process of science itself. Just look at the online buzz that #cosmos created!

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