Monday, January 19, 2009

ScienceOnline'09 - The Roundup

Well, I made it back from ScienceOnline'09, in spite of some weather issues. I had an amazing time! This was the first time I attended an un-conference, and I must say, I really liked it. The format made for much more dynamic discussions than I have ever seen before at a conference. The women in STEM group I am involved with at my university have some events planned that I think this approach will work well for, and I'm going to suggest it.

After the wine tasting, I heard Rebecca Skloot talk about the path she took to become a science writer, and about her upcoming book, "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks" on the history of HeLa cells. I'm definitely going to get a copy as soon as it comes out.

Saturday was a busy day. First, I attended Science Fiction on Science Blogs? led by Stephanie Zvan (Almost Diamonds) where potential for connections between science fiction writing and science blogging was discussed. Clearly scientists read a lot of science ficiton, but they don't tend to write about it on their blogs.

Next, I went to Transitions – changing your online persona as your real life changes moderated by Propterdoc and ScienceWoman. This was a lively discussion, touching on the reasons why blogging in the early stages of a career can be beneficial, as well as pitfalls to avoid.

Then it was off to Gender in science - online and offline, moderated by Suzanne Franks (aka Zuska), Abel Pharmboy, and Alice Pawley. Again, this was a lively discussion, focused on what it means to be an ally to an underprivileged group, and how to be a good ally.

After lunch came the highlight of my day - I helped Danielle Lee moderate the session on Race in Science. This came about as a result of my staying true to my theme this year - I put myself out there when Danielle's intended co-moderator couldn't make it at the last minute. Boy, was I nervous, but Danielle really put me at ease, and I am so glad I had a chance to be a part of that conversation. You can be sure I'll be blogging about the issues raised in many upcoming posts.

Next came Anonymity, Pseudonymity – building reputation online , moderated by PalMD and Abel Pharmboy (I honestly don't know how he had the energy to moderate two sessions - by this point of the day, I was pretty close to wiped out). But this was, again, a great discussion of the types of online identities one can have and the pros and cons of each.

And last, but not least, I went to Janet Stemwedel's session on Online science for the kids (and parents). Check out the linked wiki page - there is a treasure trove of online science resources geared toward kids. Super cool!

Then there was dinner, and socializing to the wee hours. I met and chatted with just about every person mentioned on this page, and many, many more. It was just an amazing collection of fascinating and thoughtful people who were all interested in talking about science, the culture of science, and ways to communicate science. And, I got to sign the tee shirt for DrugMonkey! What an honor!

Sunday morning, I went to Hey, You Can’t Say That!, moderated by Greg Laden, Rick MacPherson, Karen James, and Mark Powell. Though I was slightly dissapointed that PZ Meyers wasn't there, this was a really eye opening conversation about what can happen when you write freely on your blog, and how to handle the heat if it comes.

My final session was Science blogging networks – what works, what does not? This one was moderated by Cameron Neylon and Deepak Singh. Anna Kushir, from Nature Network, and Erin Johnson from ScienceBlogs also helped guide the discussion, which was mostly about the pros and cons of joining a network like ScienceBlogs, or Nature Network, or running your blog on your own.

Whew! Then I had lunch and ran to the airport to catch my plane, which was delayed. But it wasn't too much of a hardship, since the Raleigh-Durham airport is quite nice, and I didn't have to entertain anyone but myself. When I finally got home, my kids ran to the door to meet me, and both of lept into my arms at the same time. It was one of the best greetings I have had in a long time!

So, all in all, ScienceOnline'09 was an excellent experience. I have all kinds of ideas for posts inspired by the discussions. And, I'll definitely be going back next year if at all possible. A big, big thank you to Anton Zuiker, Bora Zivkovic and David Kroll for organizing a kick-ass conference, and making it possible for me to attend!


coturnix said...

It was wonderful meeting you in person. I hear it was a great session. Hope to see you again next year!

acmegirl said...

Thanks, Bora! It was great to meet you, too!