There are many signs that email is threatened as the primary mode of communication between individuals. From record levels of spam (96.4% of all email is spam, some claim) to its incompatibility with cell phones, email is threatened with being tossed aside in favor of text messaging.

Want more evidence?

  1. A nationwide text-messaging system was just approved for emergency messages. This is a major jolt of reality — it is both practical and forward-thinking.
  2. Business people are increasingly seeing text-messaging used in professional circles instead of email. I have personally witnessed this shift, and there are professional contacts I can only get in touch with via text messaging — they just don’t check their email anymore.
  3. People are beginning to think about an Elements of Style for text-messaging. This is a sign of social relevance and a maturing communication technology.
  4. Twitter is a major service enabled by text messaging. From journalists announcing they’ve been laid off to famous instances of on-site Twittering, Twitter is becoming a Web-enabled and archived version of communication. It creates community. It is a phenomenon known as micro-blogging.

What does this mean for STM publishers? It opens opportunities, I believe. We are participants in niche communities, and text-messaging and micro-blogging are perfect community systems. Twitter has shown this.

Niche “Twitters” are emerging. I’m an avid cyclist, and there is a Twitter for cyclists.

Competitors (Pownce, Jaiku) are emerging, with Pownce notably adding file-sharing.

What does this do for researchers? Peer-reviewers? Members of our societies? Readers? Are they communicating through services tailored for them on these devices? Why not? Is it time for an “STM Twitter”?

Kent Anderson

Kent Anderson

Kent Anderson is the CEO of RedLink and RedLink Network, a past-President of SSP, and the founder of the Scholarly Kitchen. He has worked as Publisher at AAAS/Science, CEO/Publisher of JBJS, Inc., a publishing executive at the Massachusetts Medical Society, Publishing Director of the New England Journal of Medicine, and Director of Medical Journals at the American Academy of Pediatrics. Opinions on social media or blogs are his own.