Driving back to my office today, I heard an interview on NPR with Lisa Randall, Professor of Physics at Harvard University. She was there to talk about new discoveries in the field of physics, including new evidence for the existence of the Higgs boson. In the context of her discussion she said, “I think it’s fairly widely known by now that the World Wide Web was developed at CERN ... and that was awhile ago.”

Twenty-one years ago to be precise. And why did CERN develop it? “To get experimenters in different countries to be able to talk to each other as if they were in the same room.”

While the need for trans-global collaboration was obvious in 1991, the reluctance of the scientific community to embrace the social media aspects of the Internet for that same purpose seems curious. As recently at last April, we were asking the question: “Are laboratory professionals ready to take advantage of [social media’s] new communication tools?” The answer then was uncertain. However, this month’s cover story answers with a resounding “yes.”

“Social technologies have become a means of exchanging information among a network of peers in scientific and lab contexts. The dissemination of interesting research findings or controversial studies will increasingly flow through social media channels. That’s not up for debate. It’s just a fact,” says Dietram Scheufele, professor and director of graduate studies for life sciences communication at the University of Wisconsin.

Mark Lanfear in this month’s “Science Matters,” says, “However your business ends up using social media in the sciences, just know that the trend is not likely to wane. If you can get a grip on it now and explore how you can use it to your advantage, you’ll already be well on your way to succeeding in the scientific workplace of the future.”

In “No Boundaries,” John Borchardt echoes the same sentiment as it pertains to managing global teams: “Some managers view social media such as Facebook and Twitter as time-wasting distractions. However, they can offer advantages for global collaboration because they create a sense of community. Social media offer a new style of collaboration through profiles, status updates, groups, feeds, lists, and filters.”

Borchardt also stresses good communication practices when it comes to managing a global research enterprise, reminding managers to “use some of the same principles as employed in effective listening but do so in writing. The most important principles include asking open-ended questions and restating what another person wrote in order to clarify understanding.”

And speaking of communication, in his article, “Talk the Talk,” Ron Pickett provides some unique and somewhat counter-intuitive advice for communicating effectively with your staff. One topic is how a manager should deal with work/friend relationships. “Building the work/friend relationship and making it work is one of the most difficult issues managers face. It begins when you first take on the responsibilities of leadership and it never goes away.” 

Whether you are interested in purchasing new or upgrading your current LIMS or ELN, you would be wise to read this month’s INSIGHTS supplement, which takes an in-depth look at laboratory data management systems. From trends in the technology, to maintenance and upgrade considerations, to honest insights for end-users, there is a wealth of information to help you make the very best purchasing decision.