Thoughts on Science Online 2011

This past weekend I attended the 5th annual Science Online conference in North Carolina (I have wanted to go for several years now but was unable, however this time I received some travel money, thanks to Bora & Anton!).

Somewhere over Texas

Somewhere over Texas on my way to North Carolina

[From the website: Read the posts and tweets, see the photos and watch the videos uploaded by our participants, hashtag #scio11]

Bulldog

Opening reception on Thursday night (Photo credit: Louis Shackleton)

Bora, the BlogFather

I certainly felt welcomed, Bora!

For this “unconference” about communicating science on the internet, I participating in a session on the history of science with Greg Gbur, Eric Michael Johnson, Holly Tucker, and Randi Hutter Epstein. Greg, a physicist who blogs at Skulls in the Stars (@drskyskull), discussed ways in which the history of science can help scientists in their own research, while Eric Michael Johnson, a history of science PhD (Primate Diaries in Exile, @ericmjohnson) gave a quick plea for bridging the sciences and humanities. Holly (Scientia Curiosa, Wonders and Marvels, @history_geek) and Randi (website, @rhutterepstein) both discussed, essentially, the idea of presentism in history of medicine as it related to each of their books, Blood Work: A Tale of Medicine and Murder in the Scientific Revolution (which all attendees received in their swagbag!) and Get Me Out: A History of Childbirth from the Garden of Eden to the Sperm Bank. John McKay wanted to be part of this session, but was unable – he was there in spirit.

Listening to Darwin's Bulldog!!!

Me in the history of science session (Photo credit: Stacy Baker)

For my part, I discussed the creationist tactic of quote-mining Darwin, gave some examples, and called for science writers to be weary of using quotes – know thy source and know thy context in which the quotee was writing. Here are my slides:

I will put up another post with the tweets about the history of science session (future link) [EDIT: click here to see a messy Word document with those tweets]. Unfortunately, my laptop got sick and since I do not own a smartphone, I was unable to be online (kind of ironic given the nature of the conference).

The best part of this conference, first and foremost for me, was the opportunity to meet in person many people whose blogs I have read for several years, chatted with, shared information online, friends on Facebook, followers on Facebook, etc. Putting IRL personalities and faces to online personas and avatars is interesting, and it felt weird being recognized and approached by people whom I have never shared physical space with before. It was a pleasure to meet, in no particular order: Brian Switek, Carl Zimmer, David Dobbs, Ed Yong, Tom Levenson (again),  Hannah Waters, Krystal D’Costa, Stacy Baker and her biology students, Kevin Zelnio, Glendon Mellow, Louis Shackleton, Karen James (again), Miriam Goldstein, Jason Goldman, Minjae Ormes, Alice Bell, Carin Bondar, Carl Boettiger, Lucas Brouwers, John Hawks, Anne Jefferson, Blake Stacey, Sheril Kirshenbaum, David Orr, Joshua Rosenau, Janet Stemwedel, scicurious, Christie Wilcox, Jeremy Yoder, and Danielle Lee; and to meet some new faces: Lisa Gardiner, Kate Clancy, Holly Menninger, Brian Krueger, Brian Malow, Emily Willingham, Alexandra Levitt, and Stephanie Zvan.

Michael and SkySkull

With Skyskull (Photo credit: Greg Gbur/Skyskull)

Other sessions I attended were: Technology and the Wilderness (technology, i.e. smartphone apps, should be an accessory to nature experiences and education, not a replacement; #techwild, wiki); Still Waiting for a Superhero – Science Education Needs YOU! (an opportunity to hear from Stacy Baker’s biology students); Parenting with Science Online (Carin Bondar will have resources up on the wiki soon); Science-Art: The Burgeoning Fields of Niche Artwork Aimed at Scientific Disciplines (wiki); “But It’s Just a Blog!” (science blogging newbies get advice); Blogging on the Career Path (be upfront about your blogging activities when seeking employment); Keepers of the Bullshit Filter (tell people when they are wrong, publicly; use MediaBug to report errors in the media); Communicating Science: Have You Ever Wondered, “What the Hell’s the Point?” (Science Cheerleader Darlene Cavalier spreading some sciencey cheer); and Defending Science Online: Tactics and Conflicts in Science Communication (are online methods of correcting disinformation effective?).

Defending Science Online: Tactics and Conflicts in Science Communication

Looking on as Josh Rosenau discusses attacks on evolution education

Robert Krulwich, NPR science correspondent and co-host of Radio Lab was the keynote speaker, and he shared his experiences turning scientific topics into stories for the public (the key: use words/language not for scientists but for everyday people).

Robert Krulwich

Robert Krulwich (of NPR and Radio Lab) was the keynote speaker

All I can say is, he had the room’s attention. He also shared this video, which is astonishing:

Kevin Zelnio sings “Wayfaring Mollusk” during the open mic session:

And Christie Wilcox does her rendition off Meridith Brooks’ “Bitch,” “Extinction’s a Bitch” (lyrics/audio):

Christie singing about evolution

itʼs not easy to survive / but at least youʼre still alive / and thatʼs way more than a trilobite can say!

Some other pictures:

Restaurant at Marriott, fitting for Science Online

Restaurant at Marriott, fitting for Science Online

Science Online 2011 logo

Science Online 2011 logo

Brian Switek reads from Written in Stone

Brian Switek reads from his Written in Stone

Technology in the Wilderness session: Karen James

Technology in the Wilderness session: Karen James of The HMS Beagle Project

Miss Baker's biology class at Science Online 2011

Miss Baker's biology class

Parenting Science session: Eric Michael Johnson

Parenting Science session: Eric Michael Johnson

Science & Art session: David Orr, Glendon Mellow, and John Hawks

Science & Art session: David Orr, Glendon Mellow, and John Hawks

Lisa Gardiner enjoys a science cookie

Lisa Gardiner (http://www.lisagardiner.com/) enjoys a science cookie

Science books

Science books

Science Cheerleader

Science Cheerleader

Science education

Science education

Defending Science Online session: Josh Rosenau of NCSE

Defending Science Online session: Josh Rosenau of NCSE

Science Online attendees on way to airport

Science Online attendees on way to airport

Miss Baker at the airport

Miss Baker at the airport (a highlight of Science Online was Stacy coming up to me in the hotel and saying she uses my blog in her biology class!)

Sunset from plane in Raleigh/Durham, North Carolina

Sunset from plane in Raleigh/Durham, North Carolina

And what about the tour of the Duke Lemur Center? I’ll share those photos in another post… [EDIT: Photos here]

11 thoughts on “Thoughts on Science Online 2011

  1. It was so great to meet you, Michael! Your session was among my favorites, if not my #1. We should talk about it sometime still – but I’m still decompressing so we can wait a little. Best to you!

  2. It was great meeting you too Michael! Still can’t believe we were able to have intelligent conversation in that loud sports bar😉.

  3. Yeah, Lucas, that restaurant was not an appropriate place to have a discussion about a science book, esp. when more than half the table could not hear the author…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s