Seeing is Believing: Multimedia for the Visual Scientist

Perhaps nothing can generate more trepidation in the heart of the average parent than the three little words “some assembly required”. If you have ever unfolded one of these room-sized instruction sheets and tried to locate “screw B” among a mountain of plastic baggies, then you know what I mean. Instructions matter!

One of the challenges of scientific writing is to find ways to clearly communicate a method that is simple when you see it done, but difficult to describe using words alone. Scientists have long appreciated the fact that certain protocol steps can be difficult to communicate with simple text—hence the extensive use of figures and illustrations in the scientific literature. Although static illustrations certainly help, the availability of video or animated illustrations takes our ability to explain such issues to a whole new level.

Therefore, in the spirit of the old adage “A picture is worth a thousand words” the Promega web site includes numerous animated illustrations in support of various technologies. Relevant animations can be viewed from the products pages, or from our multimedia page.

These animations are designed to support our technical literature. Some of them show how particular products work, and others (such as PCR and Reporter Assays) illustrate the scientific basis of particular commonly used technologies, and can be useful for students and educators, as well as for anyone seeking more in-depth information before choosing the product most suitable for their experiment. After viewing an animation, you can also tell us what you think, or provide suggestions for other topics you would like to see covered.

Our newest endeavor in multimedia protocols is a trial of video/audio methods for download on iPod. (see PureYield Minipreps protocol). If you would like to hear the protocol as you perform the experiment, and would like use this type of portable video format to complement written instructions, we invite you to try it out  and let us know what you think.

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Isobel Maciver

Isobel is a graduate of the University of Edinburgh and of Aston University in Birmingham, U.K. She is a technical writer and editor, and is also manager of the Scientific Communications group at Promega. She enjoys writing about issues in science and communication.

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