Social Media – The New Professional Development

ShakeMap for the 1868 Hayward Earthquake

It’s hard to believe that I’ve only been blogging and on Twitter for just over 6 months.  Wow, how does your world change quickly!!  Many people look at Social Media as a means for product development, marketing, receiving feedback, and exploring social relationships with people who are interested in your product.  Others see it as something completely social.  However in these past six months, I’ve been amazed at the conversations, connections, and doors that this media has opened up to me.

Social Media is simply the use of media (written and/or visual) to communicate thoughts and ideas through social interaction.  Within the Geographic Information Systems (GIS) community, there are a number of people all around the country that I now interact with on a regular basis.  The same is true about the Social Media for Emergency Management (#SMEM) community.  I’ve also had the incredible privilege to explore and learn more about the next frontier of connected data “BIG DATA” (#BigData), interact with incredible minds in the Data Visualization #DataViz community, and even build good working relationships with some of the best minds in many of these fields.

On the DisasterMapping blog side of things, I’ve received nearly 15,000 views of my blog posts since last October (6.5 months).  I was stunned one day last December when my post on Operational Context – Earthquakes was the #1 “Freshly Pressed” post on WordPress for the day.  That week alone, there were nearly 2,800 views of the post.  In the beginning of March, tornado season swung into full steam with the March 2, 2012 Tornado Outbreak.  My post depicting the path of the storm producing the Henryville tornado struck a nerve with many people and the blog was viewed 2,000 times that week.  Finally, this past week, with the tornado that struck Norman, Oklahoma on Friday, April 13th and the April 14th Tornado Outbreak on the following day, there have been over 4,200 views of the blog in 72 hours.

I’m sharing this not to focus on numbers or the quality of the maps depicted in these posts.  I am however sharing this to encourage people to share ideas through social media.  This forum (blogging, twitter, etc) is an avenue where you can rapidly share information and receive incredible feedback on your ideas.  This venue requires the development of your written communications skills.  Most of us don’t have the same type of  opportunity to develop these skills in our workplace setting, but I can definitely say that I have benefited in all areas of life from the lessons learned over the past seven months.

In summary, if you know of people who doubt the value of social media as a means for professional development, please share this with them.  Engage in a discussion with peers and colleagues, and look for the opportunities to grow in ways that you could never have imagined.


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