The ScienceOnline2013 meeting is coming up in January 2013 (beginning 30 Jan.). I’m not a confirmed registrant yet (I’ll know by the end of the week), but I feel like I’m already participating in the process. I’ve gone through the proposed program at http://scio13.wikispaces.com/Program and picked out the sessions that most interest me. My “top 6” are listed below (the info below is taken directly from the ScienceOnline2013 website [and was written, presumably, by the session moderators]). In coming posts, I’ll cover why I have picked these sessions.
1. How much “I” is “TMI”? Moderators: Jacquelyn Gill and Hillary Rosner.
Description: This session will address exposure on the internet, and how much we should be thinking about what we say and how we say it across different venues. Are there political, personal, or social ramifications to what we share online? What are the advantages or disadvantages of “professional-only” interactions online, versus personal ones? We’ll cover these issues as they relate to various types of communication: As more of us are likely to be jumping between different mediums, we’ll discuss how to strike a balance, remain true to your voice, and not have what you write in one place come back to bite you in the ass in another.
2. Scientific Storytelling: Using Personal Narrative to Communicate Science. Moderators: David Manly and Jeanne Garbarino
Description: The famous American General, Douglas MacArthur said that “rules are mostly made to be broken and are too lazy for the lazy to hide behind.” The same can be said for writing and blogging. There are a whole host of “rules” that writers tend to shift to, and they get drilled into you by the news you read, magazines you flip through and classes you take in school — have a central argument or thesis, pretend the reader knows nothing, use an active voice and avoid the first person. But why? Why are such restrictions taught in journalism school and pounded into us? Humans are a social species and enjoy telling and hearing a good story, which is how history was first shared. Science can be boring to some people, but if framed within a personal story and made relatable, it can have much more of an impact. This session, proposed and moderated by David Manly and Jeanne Garbarino, will delve into the often neglected writing style and demonstrate how to use personal experiences to make your posts and articles more engaging, engrossing and exciting for the reader. The official hashtag for the session will be #MySciStory.
3. The Art, Craft and Business of Freelancing: Best Practices and Worst Problems of Your First Day, Month and Year. Moderators: Maggie Koerth-Baker and Charles Choi
Description: Freelancing as a science writer is fascinating work, but the often-solitary nature of the job can make it hard to learn what tricks might help you out most in the field. We’ll share our best tips and worst fears about freelancing, inviting everyone to share theirs so we can all be better science writers. We’ll tackle common problems and solutions that pop up at different times in a freelance career.
4. Working Towards Better Press Releases: What Do Writers Want? Moderators: Nadia Drake and Peter Edmonds
Description: Press releases are becoming an increasingly powerful force in driving online science coverage. Even the best science writers use them to inspire articles and provide background information. However, they have also been implicated in some egregious examples of science communication, where problems with the publicity have received more attention than the science itself. This session will discuss how press releases should be improved, focusing on the needs of science writers.
5. Did Anybody Look At This !*%&#%@* Press Release? Moderators: Karl Leif Bates and Charles Choi
Description: The after-hours discussions at SciO12 yielded a surprisingly heated meme that persisted for weeks: Press Officers Are Sending Stuff Out Without Scientists’ Knowledge! Shock and alarm ensued. Responses from press officers, scientists and writers ranged from skepticism to confirmation. Both claims can’t be right, can they?
6. How do you actually get a book written? Moderators: Katherine Sharpe and Maria Konnikova
Description: So, you have a great idea for a book. Or at least you think you do. But is it a book, or just another article? How can you tell the difference? And once you do, how do you go from the idea to the actual book? What’s the process like, and how is it different from every other writing assignment you’ve taken on? How do you take a massive amount of information and turn it into something not only readable but a joy to read? And how do you stay sane—and excited—in the process? Writing a book can be one of the most rewarding things you’ll ever do. But it can also pose a challenge to your skills and your peace of mind?? Veteran and aspiring authors are invited to join Katherine Sharpe, author of “Coming of Age on Zoloft,” and Maria Konnikova, author of “Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes,” in a discussion of how to tackle writing’s ultimate long distance event.