Arguably, even the most innovative ideas take time to catch on. Ideas that seem obvious today, at one point were obscure oddities known only to a select few. Washing your hands, airbags in cars, the internet – none of these ideas were accepted immediately. New ideas need time to incubate, the process of switching from old ideas to new is not seamless nor is it linear. In today’s social media-connected world, even though ideas can spread quickly and more efficiently than ever before, they are now competing for attention with a multitude of other ideas, memes, tweets, snaps, YouTube videos and news (fake and real). Conceptually, if social media is a network of highways on which ideas and people travel, altmetrics are the billboard or traffic signs on these highways that can help interested parties to discover new ideas or re-discover ideas left on the side of the road. While often neglected, the above metaphor is meant to illuminate the important role of altmetrics for researchers, innovators and funders seeking to track the impacts of new ideas, as well as for the many idea consumers looking for emerging and novel insights.
This talk will outline the current state of altmetrics research and how altmetrics are being commonly calculated and used by different stakeholders. It will also explore the social network properties of ideas and how these properties might be used to customize altmetrics for different audiences and uses. The keynote will conclude by calling for the development of training strategies to provide learning opportunities for researchers and administrators from various fields to acquire necessary digital literacy skills so that they better understand how altmetrics are measured and how they can be interpreted for decision making. The keynote will also call on altmetrics developers and researchers to create algorithms and data collection strategies that are less prone to manipulation by the rapid rise of social bots.