Two Thumbs Up on Science Online 2010!

I’m on the plane home from Science Online 2010. Can I just say- that meeting was TOTALLY EXCELLENT. I usually attend meetings in my field that are all seriously hardcore science, seriously 24/7.  I mean seriously. So this was a totally different population and a set of subject matter than my usual meeting fare.

What did I love about and learn from #Scio10? Best just to make a list, in no particular order:

1. First, I met such an interesting mix of people. There were science journalists, editors, scientists, bloggers, scientist bloggers (like myself), librarians, programmers and computer geeks (I say that with the utmost affection from one geek to another) and folks that run large blog and publishing networks. I would never encounter such a diverse group with divergent but widely overlapping interests in these areas anywhere else. (and my apologies to anyone who I failed to mention).

2.   Second, electronic media is changing scholarly publishing, peer review will not go away (nor should it) but the speed of things will change where necessary (see Plos Currents beta Influenza), and so will the discussion that comes after an article – incorporating blogs, twitter, friendfeed etc, as will the metrics by which scientific articles and the prestige of scientific journals is evaluated to include the many many new communication methods now available. PloS One  seems to be leading the charge on this one with article level metrics ….and at the risk of being a groupie, I heart Peter Binfield and Jonathan Eisen.  (and the rest of PLoS too, cool visualizations of PLoS ALM data by Mike Chelen to be found here)

3.  Third, electronic media is hitting basic science like a tidal wave.  I’d bet you $100 that I’m the only one that blogs, uses twitter, that sees the utility in Google groups and other fun Google stuff like Google reader, and that uses Facebook in my department (well, that’s actually a lie – one of my close colleagues uses FB as well). BUT my eyes were opened at this meeting to the fact that I am barely scratching the surface of what is already available, and what is possible.  I nearly leapt from my chair during John Hogenesh’s talk about cloud computing and its application to genomic work.  My community of scientists is going to have to deal with their discomfort of new technology and start learning how to swim here-… or they will get left behind on the beach.

4.  Fourth, can I just say- I’ve got a little hero worship thing going on with those PLoS guys.

5.  Fifth- Like I said up there, I’m the only one I know in my current scientific environment that uses twitter- but using hashtags to tweet a meeting… is quite a remarkable thing. Especially when you are doing this with a meeting full of 250 odd people who are totally and completely comfortable with twitter, the sheer volume of tweets was quite incredible. I loved seeing what was going on in sessions that I wasn’t in this way. Go to twitter and search hashtag: #scio10, and you will see just exactly what I mean.  That Janet Stemwedel is a tweeting machine. Out.Of.Control.

6.  Sixth- You know I blog- but most people at my institution don’t and many times we don’t even speak the same language when it comes to electronic communication methods, and sometimes this can be a little isolating. A person can get a lot of shit for blogging while on the tenure track… ’cause, you know, it takes time away from the pursuit of real science, the production of papers and grants (as so hilariously detailed in Dr. Stemwedel’s ignite talk).  But this going to this conference, and meeting many, many of the bloggers whose fine work I read daily (Isis, Pal, Sci, Janet, Zuska, Abel, Sheril and others I’m not sure I can name on blog, but you know who you are), and talking to struggling graduate students, made me realize that not only do people actually read what I write – but maybe from time to time what I write puts something useful out into the blogosphere that others coming behind me might learn from. I think that maybe for the first time I appreciated my own role in the diverse chorus of voices that are out there blogging about similar issues.

7. Seventh- see all those bloggers I list up there- they are awesome as real people as they are in the blogosphere, as are those I did not name. I’m humbled to be part of this community.

8.  Finally, the meeting itself was exquisitely organized, orchestrated, and executed.  Hats off to Bora Zivkovic and Anton Zuiker, and the army of others and volunteers that was undoubtedly helping them out, for accomplishing this Herculean task and labor of love.

I’m sure there is more, but that is all for the moment…

Oh, and,… I did NOT partake of the motherfucking Jameson, although it was being served. Perhaps I’ll have the opportunity in 2011?!

(sorry for the double post, I forgot to add a couple of IMPORTANT links in the first round!)


23 thoughts on “Two Thumbs Up on Science Online 2010!

  1. MMM on your point 3, that you are only one who uses FB in your dept, you might have to check that again. I know of at least 4 PI’s (besides you) in that department who have a FB account !!

  2. CrispytacoDoc- Read the parentheses dude- me and one other member of the dept use it regularly- a third has it, but doesn’t ever use it.

  3. So, you know, you got to show your love of the PLoS folks by sending them your good stuff.

    I’m totally with you in agreeing that “. . . . making the world’s scientific and medical literature a freely available public resource” is doing good work. But it will fail if the content providers and those who fund them don’t get on the bandwagon with time and treasure.

    Once, long ago, when I was a student, a person from a 3-rd world country sent me a preprint request for a paper I wrote as a graduate student, that had a handwritten note on it: “please, please, sending me this paper; I really really need it. ” My first thought was that there was no way that the person could, really, really need my paper. But, then, the second was true sadness that someone might feel that way, and not be able to get it, sitting from my privileged perch of access at a major research institution in the west. I did what I could then, which was to send a short stack of my papers. But, now, it’s to weigh in on the open access movement whenever I can.

    I still believe we need peer review, and I think peer review and its management costs money. So, money for publication needs to come from somewhere, but I think coming from the funders and producers, while the consumers get free access is a good transition.

  4. Neurolover- Oh I do!! And someone in my family is an editor there as well, so we’re committed. I think for PLoS one I love the idea of divorcing the importance of an article from the status of a given journal- or as Peter Binfield put it, (I loosely paraphrase) good chocolate is still good chocolate regardless of the wrapper that it comes in. We can debate that to the nth detail, and very probably will.

  5. I really wish I could have gone this year!! But alas the timing of my childbirth made it impractical. Hopefully next year! I would love to meet all y’all.

  6. Woman, go to the faculty webpage of your department and look at some of the people there, i know of at least several on there who have a FB account, and I know at least one of them uses it regularly.

  7. CrispytacoDoc- DUDE, I can’t discuss specifics with you on the blog, and you know it. All I know is that every time I mention social media in the work setting (including twitter, FB etc)- only a single ONE besides me will admit to their use.

  8. You are pretty awesomez yourowndangself doubledoc! Great to finally meet you and regrets I didn’t find more time to chat- next year!!

    You do have a lasting impact with your blogging and I am glad the meeting helped to show you that your efforts are appreciated by many readers.

  9. Holy Shit. Peter Binfield visited this blog.

    Peter- Thanks so much for stopping by- I’ll be carefully watching innovations at PLoS one and PLoS in general!

    El PIcador- Nice to meet you too, and thanks for the lovely compliment- HMMMMM I don’t recall that pseud on your nametag…?!

  10. “My community of scientists is going to have to deal with their discomfort of new technology and start learning how to swim here-… or they will get left behind on the beach.”

    Aw man. I’m going to have to get one of those phones with the keyboard thingy, aren’t I – or one of them pointy screeny gizmos – because Twitter is pretty useless otherwise as far as I can tell.

    But yes, change is a comin’. Hell, even The Long Now has a blog and a Twitter account. How’s that for irony/flat-out-contradiction?

    Turn on, tune in or drop out.

    Anyhoo, when is the First International Blog Bum Commenter Convention?

  11. I sooooo wanted to go, I registered the very moment the call went up — and this post just made me all the sadder for having missed it — but recovering from pneumonia took priority. I’m all primed for next year (though maybe not for the Jameson’s).

  12. On point #6- yes, your blogging makes a difference. For one thing, you are a strong counter-example to the patently false idea that scientists can’t be mothers (or mothers can’t be scientists?)- it might not be easy, but it must be possible, because you are doing it. And blogging about it.

    I think when a community is small and geographically diverse, blogs can provide a way to connect and feel less alone.

    Heck, even when a community is large and EVERYWHERE, blogs can help fight isolation- check out this post by one of the mommybloggers I read:
    I mean, “mommies” is a pretty big community, and we are everywhere. But even so, we often feel isolated. So it shouldn’t surprise us that “women in science” can feel isolated.

    Do you periodically check what search terms cause people to land at your site? If you don’t, you should. I check mine almost daily. It is often funny and sometimes very touching.

  13. I love to go to this kind of meetings.
    How did you pay for it? Can you use your grant money? A more general question, can you use grant money to go to a meeting that is not closely related to your grant work?

  14. Absolutely. I’ll do you one better:


    How’s that?

    Peter- I did not use my grant money to pay to go to this meeting, I generally have alternative sources that I can use for such things. For more detail than that you can contact me off the blog by email. I generally do not use grant money for things that aren’t closely related to what I do, I’m sure it all revolves around the definition of ‘closely’. It could be argued that some of the genomics stuff I attended is ‘closely’ related to what I do.

  15. Congrats on going to SciOnline2010! I have been loving GoogleReader. I now send the people in my lab abstracts to new papers via Google Reader and they are becoming curious. I also just started using GoogleDocs with a collaborator who is game, a post doc from a Big Lab. Twitter I find less useful, but it was fun following SciOnline2010 and I like drdrA’s retweets. When I talk to my Big U colleagues about reading science blogs they regard it as goofing off. Too bad – the community will build with or without them.

    How about if drdrA writes a How-To for ASM’s Microbe? How to and why to use web based technologies.

  16. Yeah, what was up with you not drinking the MFJ??? I mean, what is wrong with you??

    Srsly, you are all kinds of classy that some of us (like me) aren’t. Thanks for sharing your time, personality, and brain with us.

  17. Terrifiedtabetic- I know, sorry- I stuck pretty much to the wine. Next year you and I will partake of the MFJ together.

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