July 15, 2009

Exoplanetology's Twitter Manifesto

When I started the @exoplanetology twitter account I did not expect that it would take me to an amazing journey through fascinating worlds. Well, twitter is a world of it's own, but it has allowed me to learn and discover new interesting realms that i could never have known without this medium.

My goal to answer the question, "How does the discovery of exoplanets impact humanity's culture and future?" --has guided me into worlds I've never known before. Little did I know that tweeting would become a soul-searching activity as well.

So I am forever thankful to the Tweeps--my Karass, the tweeting embodiment of the hive mind. They helped shape the path to new genres that I am dabbling into.

My latest foray, which I am so excited about--is exploring planetary worlds in fiction, comic books, graphic novels, short stories, movies, music, and videogames. I focus only on those that has something to do with worlds and exoplanets. I became interested in SciFi after I realized how inspiring it is to delve into the narrative behind planetary worlds, all the while enjoying the scientific study of real exoplanets. Without the stories, the study of Exoplanetology would be a bore. In a sense, Imaginative Science is the latest addition to my playground.

Thus, if you follow @exoplanetology then you would be taken along on a journey of exploration in science as well as in literature, culture, and some bit of futurism.

Some wackiness slips in between the cracks, occasionally. I often end up drawing other-worldy insights from mundane experiences, or finding planetary metaphors from simple things like soap bubbles.

Sometimes I tweet about what an astrophysics arXiv article is really saying, or you would just find me RT'ing or raving about a new comic book set on a distant alien world.

I like synthesizing. Often i'd tweet about how I can mix different subjects, for example Synthetic Biology and Astrobiology to find insights about detecting life on other planets. Exoplanetology is itself a synthesis of different fields of Science, namely Astronomy and Astrophysics, so it does not come as a surprise that I like to mash up things! I think it resulted in my blogging style becoming 'interstitial'.

The keyword is "Worlds", and it has become my favorite word lately. For me, "Worlds" is a key that integrates Science and Fiction, using imagination as the glue. And from that stems a redefinition: Aside from being "The Art and Science of New Worlds", Exoplanetology is also the over-all study and "Thought" of Worlds.

My intent with this twitter account is to be a node between the Third Culture and the informed public. Perhaps this makes it part of the Fourth Culture--a term derived after C.P. Snow's lecture, A Tale of Two Cultures.

The @Exoplanetology account is being stewarded by a non-scientist non-literati but with a strong interest in Science, the Humanities and the Arts--plus a penchant for seeking Truth. Thus there is no other way but for @Exoplanetology to act as node between these seemingly disparate things.

In terms of that perennial debate on God or un-God, I tweet from the standpoint of an active 'Seeker'--one who thinks that perhaps we don't know enough just yet to make a solid stance on whether God does or does not exist, but that there is plenty of Wonders in the Universe to inspire Awe, and then ponder upon that mystery. As such, it makes me forever curious.

Lastly, I myself am confused whether to treat @Exoplanetology as a person or as a robotic curator with no will of its own. But i've learned to appreciate the ambiguity of such treatment, after I realized that stewarding Exoplanetology has changed me, and guided my thinking in a lot of ways too.

The melding of the person and a meme is quite interesting to me, for I've never seen a nascent field of science come with a personality along with it's presence on the web. This is "only in twitter" they say, only in twitter.

I am @Exoplanetology and this is my Twitter Manifesto.