astrodock is a viral Twitter meme

Last Wednesday night I inadvertantly catalyzed a viral Twitter meme. I had just seen a talk, and in the few moments before the presenter fired up his Keynote presentation, his idle Desktop caught my attention. Lined along the bottom was the familiar OSX Dock- that colorful destination for our most-used applications. He had so many different icons I had never seen before. I realized that this practice had become something I look forward to when I go to presentations. So, naturally, I tweeted about it.

Jonathan Sick suggested making a blog about it, which reminded me of the tech/design website which highlights hardware and software setups, and this Nature article series, which highlights scientist workflows. Adrian Price-Whelan chimed in, and started the viral microblogging hashtag #astrodock.

Rather than repost the docks, all the original content is still available on Twitter, by simply searching for #astrodock. Here were some insights:

  1. All the cool kids are using iTerm2 instead of the bland default Terminal.
  2. Some people use Bibdesk some use PapersApp.
  3. There’s something called Skim for reading PDFs.
  4. Sublime Text is popular.
  5. Some people use Evernote, Quicksilver, and Transmit.
  6. Long tail of random app icons that are un-Googleable.

Point number 6 above highlights the challenge of extracting further insights from the astrodock meme. I think the astronomy community could benefit from a resource like or the Nature article– but something that anyone can edit. That’s where Twitter shines- you don’t need permission to post. But the 140 character limit stifles a deeper conversation about useful tools. Jonathan Sick agrees with me, so I know we must be on to something.