Bryan Vartabedian, MD over at 33 Charts has an interesting post on his blog today: Should Twitter be Restricted at Scientific Meetings? I encourage all to read it.
Increasingly, scientific sessions (many of which have heavy corporate sponsorship) have evolved from scientific endeavors to those of marketing and media endeavors. While there are benefits to pharamceutical and medical device representatives gaining "access" to "key opinion leaders" to explore ways to further innovate in medicine, there is also a chance that these interactions will influence and bias.
Doctors know this. So do device and pharmaceutical reps. As do the media.
But at most of the recent Scientific Sessions that I have attended, there is usually a sign at the door of the meeting telling us photographs are prohibited. And yet, without exception, I have seen people snapping pictures of slides and posters and friends, among other things.
Who are we kidding? The ubiquious nature of cell phones capable of snapping a picture and sending it around the world in seconds exists on nearly every attendee at these meetings. Yet somehow I haven't seen anyone wrestled to the ground to surrender their cell phone to authorities to date.
And most of these scientific meeting sponsors have welcomed social media as part of their marketing efforts, publishing updates on sessions underway, not to mention encouraging companies to market their wares at the meeting as well. Should doctors, then be restricted? We're not talking censorship of the scientists are we?
So should we restrict the use of Twitter at scientific sessions?
My thoughts on this: if you've invited the media to cover the event, then by default, you've invited Twitter.