Sunday, January 26, 2014

Live tweeting a drought

By now, many of you have undoubtedly seen some version of these NASA images that compare snow cover in California between 2013 and 2014. Believe it or not, 2013 was considered a drought year (as was 2012), so you can only imagine the visceral reaction these images have brought up over the past couple of weeks, released on the heels of the news that 2013 was the driest year ever recorded in the state. With barely a drop of rain so far in 2014, who knows what is on the horizon.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

The emotional lives of scientists

"Scientists should be allowed to be upset about things that are in fact upsetting" was the general gist of an interesting set of live-tweets that came flying by me from the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union. Naomi Oreskes, Harvard professor and author of "Merchants of Doubt," was giving a talk that is now conveniently summarized in this ClimateWire article. At the time that article was not yet written, but because I was intrigued I searched around and came across a seemingly recent (can't find a date on it to save my life) piece she wrote called "The scientist as sentinel" in a special issue of Limn on "sentinel devices." What had first captured my eye about her talk, at least what I could glean about it from the tweets, was the need to "allow" for the emotions of scientists to be a part of the discourse around climate change. It makes me somewhat sad that we need permission, but also, um, yes, please?

Monday, January 13, 2014

Relatedness in action in science practice (#2)

As my first post on "relatedness in action" mentioned, I'm trying to make the concept less abstract by pointing to examples of it that I see in the science world. Science journalist Michelle Nijhuis recently wrote a piece in the New York Times Opinionator blog on "The Science and Art of Science Writing." You should go read the whole thing, but in short it beautifully describes her work as a newly minted college graduate who while "looking for strange animals in strange places" found herself even more fascinated by the scientists she was working with as they gathered eagerly around a rattlesnake than she was by the snake itself.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

What if complexity can actually be helpful in science communication and engagement?

What if the ways that we commonly think of communicating science, for example, by simplifying, messaging, and framing, don't work as well in issue areas where prolonged conflict is present? What if, instead, complexity and nuance might be helpful in such situations? This may seem counter to my recent "how to" on publicizing research, but begins to speak to the difference between "buzz generation" and change-making I mentioned there.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

How to generate buzz about research

One of the most common activities I engage in as a scientist and communications practitioner is working to "generate buzz" about the research work I either participate in or that the various organizations I've worked for fund or are otherwise engaged in. Since I have yet to write about much of the practical work that I do, I'm trying it just to see how it goes, and maybe it will be useful for some.