Friday, January 20, 2012

ScienceOnline2012 - Day 2

ScienceOnline is really one of those unique experiences - explicitly set up as an "UnConference," it encourages freewheeling input from all attendees, bursting the bounds of conventional presentations. In fact there really aren't presentations in the conventional sense. The presenter is only a facilitator; everyone else is encouraged to join in the conversation. As such, it is both a disconcerting and intensely rewarding experience.

In my second trip to one of these unconferences (see here for my report on the last trip), ScienceOnline 2012 has proven to be worth every instant of invested time. It's been enjoyable to meet the faces behind the websites, interact with science media types (both bloggers and "conventional" reporters), and learn about the current trends in doing science in the internet age.

Work scheduling meant I had to miss the first day of the conference (disappointing, as there were some good sessions), but I was happy to drop in Day 2. Some highlights of the sessions included:
  • Saying howdy to the infamous Bora Zivkovic - a tireless promoter for science on the internet, and arguably one of the most influential individuals out there in the new science communication landscape (Bora is the reason why I'm involved with PLoS ONE!).
  • Seeing a presentation from the talented high school students behind Extreme Biology Blog. It's tough to balance the demands of being a high school student and being a blogger - but blogging can clearly be a good component of the curriculum.
  • Learning about FigShare.com - a newly revamped way to share all sorts of data (not just figures!). This looks to have some great potential, especially once the long-term archiving is worked out (which seems to be on the near horizon)
  • Learning about ROMEO, a clearinghouse for summaries of publisher policies - a great place to find out whether you can post a copy of your paper on your own site, for instance.
  • ORCID is an upcoming service to assign unique identifiers to researchers. Launching later this year.
  • Annotum is a WordPress plug-in to allow writing, peer-review, editing, and publication of scientific papers.
  • SciFund is a way to crowdfund research projects. But, it's not just about collecting dollars - the most successful fundraisers made a solid outreach connection with the public.
  • I really enjoyed visiting with some of the other paleontologists here. It is nice to see other paleo folks on the ScienceOnline bandwagon, but also a little distressing how out of touch many of our colleagues are with the world of online outreach!
One interesting observation is the slight change in feel of the conference from 2010. Back then, scienceblogs.com was the reigning champion of science communication - and to be honest, parts of the 2010 banquet felt like a string of in-jokes between a handful of  bloggers. As the landscape has shifted, it feels as if things are a little more inclusive. All in all, a good thing! ScienceOnline2012 is a little bigger, but it has retained all of the charm and good qualities that made ScienceOnline2010 a useful, fun experience. Kudos to the organizers and presenters!

1 comment:

David Orr said...

Too bad I had to sit this one out due to school. I hope we can meet up at a future conference. How strong was the paleo contingent this time around? Didn't seem terribly large last year, but that just may be due to how overwhelmed I was by the whole experience.