At this point in time there is a staggeringly vast amount of knowledge available to people through the internet. There is now so much knowledge available that this particular time period has earned the moniker ‚??the information age‚?? and is considered distinct and special due the widespread availability of this knowledge. For informal and underground fields of study or interest this is a great boon. For the first time in history these fields of study are given a set up where the few and far between collaborators can easily communicate, cooperate and disseminate their results to the interested amateur. In technical fields with a high barrier to understanding such as biology and neuroscience, the ease of passing on information through the internet is cutting out middleman news distributors and producing sources of intelligible information produced by people who are experts in their fields.
Traditionally much of the public has gotten its science information from newspapers, magazines and television news programs. These sources, run by journalist who study and focus on distributing information to the public are excellent at catching the public eye and producing results that the public finds interesting. However, journalists often lack significant scientific backgrounds or training, and therefore are not always qualified to interpret the science they are publicizing. The result has been that historically the public has often been fed simplifications of scientific matters, or occasionally misinformed entirely.
Now that scientists have gained access to the internet for distributing information, the public has new and more expert venues for learning about whatever science interests them. Blogs written by scientists are available for most scientific topics, while social media sites often have sub sections dedicated to the discussion of news within various sciences. Surprisingly, despite the amateur nature of many of the content contributors, the content is often just as readable as what can be found in traditional sources such as newspapers and magazines. It is however more expert, increasing the quality of the information available to the public.
Another aspect that internet media brings to the table which has never previously been available is an element of interactivity between content creators and content consumers. The brilliance of social media lies in the fact that users can request clarification or increased depth directly from the producers of content. There are even sites which focus on increasing public knowledge by creating a forum between laymen and scientists on scientific topics. The website reddit.com has a subsection for this called askscience (www.reddit.com/r/askscience), which has over the past month discussed scientific questions varying from the whether IQ differences can be estimated through brain imaging to how big stars can get.
Traditional media outlets will continue to be an important purveyor of scientific conclusions by summarizing large issues in science and reaching the general public at large. However any laymen interested in scientific knowledge, internet media is providing opportunities never before seen from the traditional side of science journalism. With its potential for in depth expert analysis and discussion between scientists and the curious, the internet has greatly improved the quality and availability of scientific knowledge.