Apparently, I tweet. I have an affinity for birds, but I didn't realize that I had joined them. A while ago, a woman approached me on the street outside our Foundation office in Vancouver and thanked me for the message I sent out on Twitter.
I went to the office and asked some of our tech-savvy staff — some of whom are younger than me — about it. I was astounded to learn that, besides Twitter, I also have a Facebook page, and thousands of "fans".
I'm a bit old-school, but I like to think I've kept up with the times. When I first got into communicating to the public about science, I was in radio. I moved to television when I saw what a powerful medium it had become. And although I still write a weekly newspaper column, I've also started blogging from time to time.
Sometimes it's hard to keep up with all the new communications technology. But, according to staff at the Foundation, it's all good. The new social-media tools are helping to get our important messages out to a wider — and often younger — audience. They also make our advocacy work easier, by giving supporters the tools to take action themselves, whether it's sending a letter, or video, to the prime minister demanding action on climate change, or signing a petition to protect grizzly bear habitat.
Most importantly, these tools help us learn from you. They allow you to give us instant feedback on our work and our campaigns, and they let you give us — and each other — suggestions. For example, when the Foundation's Queen of Green, Lindsay Coulter, wrote about eco-friendly fashion, people from across Canada posted information about where to find these fashions in their own regions.
I can sometimes be a bit old-fashioned. I still think the best conversations take place face-to-face, although maybe we can use new media to encourage more of this. And I'm often discouraged by the facile nature of much of what is found on the Internet and by the overwhelming negativity in the blogosphere. I suppose, like any technology, our new media can be used for good and bad.
It's a brave new world, though, and our rapidly expanding human populations are facing some crucial issues. This means we must use all the communication tools we have to work together to find solutions.