Why Experts Use Social Media

I recently came across a post by Tracy Coenen of Sequence Inc. Forensic Accounting. Her post (which can be found here: http://ow.ly/AMnM ) posed the following question:

Can expert witnesses participate in social media? (And should they?)
This is a very interesting question; with the presence of social media in our lives expanding every day, it is a question that is sure to be on the minds of many. But perhaps the real question here is why would experts want to participate in social media?

I can't speak for all experts, but I can tell you why I participate in social media- information exchange. In my experience, many experts come from an academic setting, where open information exchange is the norm. Some experts are actively teaching in colleges and universities, while others have left the university setting to focus on consulting. My background includes a fellowship at the Center for Economic Policy Analysis, as well as serving on the faculty at New York University. I "grew up" in academic settings where sharing of thoughts and ideas was encouraged. These exchanges were not limited by discipline or departmental lines - mathematicians, biologists, physicists, and computer scientists were working with ideas that had applications in economics, and vice versa. Such interdisciplinary conversations were a benefit to everyone involved, leading us to new insights and new questions about the theories we were exploring. For me, social media is another way to engage in these conversations with people I don't regularly encounter in my daily work routine.

Is there a danger to using social media? Of course, just as there is a danger in publishing an article, giving a presentation at a seminar, authoring an expert report, or testifying to an expert opinion in court. Perhaps because social media is so accessible, the danger feels greater. It's far easier to do an internet search for an expert and download every blog entry and Tweet than it is to head to the library and photocopy journal articles, or dig up copies of old expert reports and testimony transcripts. But the fact of the matter is regardless of which form the opinion takes, it's still out there and accessible.

As far as whether expert witnesses should participate, I agree with Ms. Coenen:
Should you be concerned if the expert witness in your case is blogging or regularly posting on a site like Twitter? Probably not. For a good expert witness, social media should be an outlet to demonstrate expertise... Social media is not something to be feared in the hands of responsible users.
*Thanks to Tracy Coenen for permission to link to and discuss her post.