Speed of reporting isn't the issue when your work is scooped

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Sir

In your Editorial 'How to stop blogging' (Nature 460, 152; 2009), you urge the conference community to be clear from the outset about whether their meetings are 'open' or 'closed' with respect to the informal dissemination of their content. In my view (as a scientist and a blogger, http://tinyurl.com/mf8ynx), this risks treating early adopters of new communication technologies as scapegoats.

A few years ago, interested conference participants might have stood in front of a poster and sketched the figures for themselves; more recently, they might have snapped a digital photo while the presenter's back was turned. Key information could always be relayed by a swift phone call back to their laboratories. Now people can also tweet to the lab or the wider 'tweetersphere'.

We present information in order to disseminate it and enhance our reputations. Whether this occurs within weeks, days or minutes is just a question of scale.

If a competitor can scoop me by tweeting or blogging my data only a few days or hours faster than he or she would have done by simply coming to my poster and taking ideas back to the laboratory, then the problem clearly lies with my own inability to conclude and publish my research — not in the progress of technology.

For the most part, the use of this technology is limited to sharing information with like-minded individuals. The nature of the conference has not changed, only the mindset of the participants.

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Brooks, I. Speed of reporting isn't the issue when your work is scooped. Nature 460, 796 (2009) doi:10.1038/460796b

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