February 27, 2014 by Dr. G
Click on the hashtag #Scio14 to view all of my posts from ScienceOnline Together.
There are some interesting conference activities at ScienceOnline Together that I have not seen at other conferences. For example, this conference has Books at Scio14, where authors/publishers have donated books, most of which have been published in the last year. Each conference attendee gets to look at these books, and then we get to enter a raffle for one book (we had to list our top five choices and I’ll hopefully get one of these five). Which book did I put as my top choice? I had to go with Katherine Harmon Courage‘s book Octopus!: The Most Mysterious Creature in the Sea. Let’s hope I get it!
Just like yesterday morning, today started with a CONVERGE session on Reaching Diverse Audiences. Jorge Cham from PHD Comics (Piled Higher and Deeper) talked about the science gap, and how comics and videos are great tools for closing the gap between scientists and the public – check out his TED Talk on the topic! He showed an example that is a favorite of mine, the Who’s the Scientist? website, where 7th graders drew pictures and wrote explanations of scientists before and after visiting the Fermilab. Amy’s work is an excellent representation of the impact putting kids (and people) in front of a scientist can have. PHD Comics also has a YouTube channel that facilitates and gives a platform for scientists to explain their work – be sure to check this out as well! The original second speaker for the morning was held up in Ukraine and not able to fly here for the meeting, but Monica Feliu-Mojer did an excellent job pinch-hitting with her talk on communicating science to underserved communities – in her case, Spanish-speaking communities. Her take-home message was that ‘context matters’ when speaking to any audience, and there is a lack of contextualized Spanish-language science content for students and the public. I also appreciated her thoughtfulness about how her audience (residents of Puerto Rico) look for their news. She reported that 90% of the people in Puerto Rico listen to the radio, and 82% of the residents read a newspaper every week. Clearly, these are the communication vehicles for science in PR! The science networking website Ciencia Puerto Rico seems to be a great resource of articles and podcasts, all crowdsourced by the community, for outreach and engagement. Excelentísimo!
— LizNeeley (@LizNeeley) February 28, 2014
I then headed to a session called Beyond Blogs, Twitter & FB: Using OTHER Social Media to Find New Audiences for Science. This session was packed with people and information! There were great questions that came from the audience – do any of us really have the time and resources to continuously post original content? How often do we need to post to social media accounts to make them worthwhile? Should we be using existing technologies, or finding new ones? Someone from an aquarium shared an example that their Instagram account gets lots and lots of “likes” on their images, but if hundreds of people “like” a photo of a crazy-looking squid, did they really learn anything? And someone else brought up how people today like to see instant photos with digital cameras – but we’ve had instant photos since the invention of the Polaroid instant camera! One audience suggestion was to still use these various social media channels, but to create a “trail of breadcrumbs” for people to follow their interests. But then someone said it is fine to have a breadcrumb trail, but what gingerbread house are you leading them to? Lots to think about…
The last session I attended in the morning was on How To Stay In The Moment When Covering Live Events Online. Everyone agreed that there are challenges with live tweeting, especially when only a few people are tweeting with the conference hashtag. Some people also don’t want to bombard their followers with tweets, and Twitter can even lock Twitter accounts, putting you in Twitter jail, if you tweet too much in too short of a time. But I learned that people use Twitter various ways at conferences, to take notes (a selfish motivation) or to just share the little, unique nuggets of information. Someone in the room says she actually gets hired by organizations to do live tweeting for them! But there were also questions that came up, such as, how much information at conferences is considered “private” and shouldn’t be shared?
I raised my hand for the microphone and shared how some faculty are encouraging live tweeting in their classrooms. I was pleased to see some people live tweeted my comments!
— Carolyn Beans (@carolynmbeans) February 28, 2014
— Erin Podolak (@ErinPodolak) February 28, 2014
The take-home message from this session? There were many “nuggets” to think about, but the statement that deserves further reflection was “sometimes, we forget the “social” in social media.”
After a wonderful build-your-own salad luncheon, it was time to move on to more sessions! But it is interesting to see some of these tweets start to appear… (it wouldn’t be a good conference if it didn’t get us reflecting upon what we are currently doing, and if we can do it better!)