While the use of social media and peer-to-peer networks in spreading information about health and science has been gaining support, a senior research scientist has suggested that it may lead to disparities in learning and awareness.
The book, Social Networks and Popular Understanding of Science and Health: Sharing Disparities, illustrates how systematic reliance on social networks and peer-to-peer networks to disseminate information could be a recipe for inequity.
Brian Southwell, Ph.D., a senior research scientist at RTI International and the book's author, said that they live in a moment of great faith in the notion that the best ideas will somehow spread like wildfire and that a marketer or an educator can simply release an idea into the world and just let it spread virally.
The book documents instances where efforts to disseminate science and health information through social networking or peer-to-peer networks fell short of desired outcomes.
Southwell said that spreading ideas in this fashion is hard work and that they can't expect the viral spread of information to happen without a tremendous amount of investment or existing connections between people.