When this blog goes live, I’ll be on my way from Chicago, IL, to Raleigh, North Carolina, for Science Online 2013. (Okay I lied, we moved the blog live early…soon I’ll be on my way from Chicago to Raleigh.)
Last year was my first experience with Science Online, the unconference that brings together scientists, science writers, journalists, teachers, and students of science from the far reaches of cyberspace for face-to-face conversations about science communications, science, statistics and all sorts of topics.
How do you prepare for an unconference that sucks up bandwidth like a group of nine-year-olds devour Halloween candy? You bring lots of electronic gadgets and their chargers. You scope out your hotel room for electric sockets, immediately upon entering. You also bring your watercolor pencils or markers for any “science scribing” you may be doing, because Science Online is a tech conference that blends science with art beautifully, and Perrin Ireland will be back leading a sketch noting workshop and capturing many of the sessions as a “science scribe”. Her workshop was one of my favorites last year, and sketch noting is something that I have applied several times over to my work at Promega.
You bring comfortable shoes and clothes, because this is a meeting where you put ideas to work, and conversations require energy.
Promega Connections is privileged to feature this guest blog from Lilly Quach, one of the high school students participating in #scistuchat, a monthly Twitter chat, in which high school science students and scientists around the world get together online to discuss a particular topic. You can read more about #scistuchat at Biology101.
Across Earth’s 197 million square miles, there are scientists on every corner of the globe. Through the use of Twitter, students all over the world have been given the golden opportunity to connect with their inner interest in science. Science is a vast ambiguous field, always subject to change and fraught with questions. By means of today’s modern social media, communication with scientists is now an easily attainable learning experience for the intrigued. This valuable experience, not even available a decade ago, is now within the grasps of the teenagers who will pave a road of success. I am grateful to be able to participate in such a friendly, educational environment. This will remain in my memory as a truly wonderful experience, and I hope to take part in such events more often in the future.
Here are some pictures from Day One of Science Online 2012. This is billed as an unconference–a place where the agenda is crowd sourced, and most of the sessions are moderated discussions rather than traditional talks. The idea is that at most scientific conferences, the best conversations do not occur in the formal sessions, but rather in the hallways and over dinner. The unconference format seeks to involve all participants in the discussions and to bring these helpful, collaborative conversations out of the hallways and into the actual conference sessions. Three of us are here from Promega, all of us first-time attendees. As a newbie, I was glad to find some other first timers over breakfast. I met post-docs, grad students, policy makers, journalists and librarians, almost all of them involved in blogging or active on twitter, and all here because they are passionate about science communication and scientific literacy.
The atmosphere is relaxed and friendly. There is a refreshing openness and sense of shared purpose. This is the annual gathering of a strong online community, and it is clear that the attendees relish the opportunity to meet in person and put faces and names to the people they already know only by twitter names online. This is an opportunity to meet virtual friends in the flesh. I have never been at conference with such a vibrant sense of anticipation, and such a palpable community feeling.