Science Online is not like the Evolution meetings. This was evident in the first session I entered, where the plastic click of laptop keys underlay the conversation between the panelists and the audience. Twitter was a second venue for discussion the whole conference, and you could track audience interest in a given session purely from posts with the #scio10 hashtag. Notes on the sessions I attended:
- From blog to book: Tom Levenson, Brian Switek, and Rebecca Skloot discussed the usefulness of blogging for authors and developing authors, mostly as a venue for promoting books, but also as a space for developing ideas and writing to develop a book.
- Rebooting science journalism: Ed Yong, Carl Zimmer, John Timmer, and David Dobbs led discussion about the future of science journalism online, with emphasis on unique ways to connect the diverse and Balkanized interest groups of the web to science news, and an extensive aside on the recently discovered role of sexual selection in the morphology of ducks’ penises and vaginas – Carl wasn’t able to publish much detail via a print magazine, but (perhaps unsurprisingly) the story proved popular online. This set off a flurry of interest in the article in question, and revealed I’m not the only one who thought this phenomenon makes limerick fodder.
- Demonstrations of a new German science magazine for children, an online hub for New Zealand-centric science reporting, use of Second Life as a science education resource, and the Open Dinosaur Project. I wasn’t strongly impressed by the Second Life presentation – I don’t see the usefulness of the 3-d environment over conventional instant messaging. On the other hand, Andy Farke’s Open Dinosaur Project is doing amazing things with a bunch of volunteer “citizen scientists” assembling a morphological data from the literature. It’s a new model for digging data out of old publications, and it’s not hard to think of other projects that could benefit from a similar approach.
- An open history of science: John McKay and Eric Michael Johnson discussed the history of media employed in scientific societies. Turns out that Enlightenment-era scientists corresponding by mail, the informal science societies they formed, and the journals they compiled from each others’ letters were more like the modern blogosphere than you might think.
- Online reference managers: representatives from Citeulike, Mendeley, Zotero, and Scopus talked about their various products’ approaches to organize researchers’ electronic reference libraries, and to use personal contacts and library content to recommend new material. There’s some interesting possibilities – enough that I’ve downloaded Mendeley (the only one, so far as I could tell, that has a locally-installed client) to play around with for a bit. I’d love to ditch EndNote, if I can extract my thousands of references and linked files without too much bother.
The day concluded with a banquet at the hotel, capped by a series of brief “ignite” talks on everything from the benefits of blogging while working toward tenure to a crowd-sourced project to check the accuracy of chemistry information in online sources.
Here’s a slideshow of photos uploaded to Flickr with the #scio10 tag, mostly from Saturday if I’m not mistaken.