Saturday, January 19, 2008

2008 NC Science Blogging Conference

Today I attended the NC Science Blogging Conference, which was held at Sigma Xi, in RTP. I had to say that, of the few conferences I've attended, it was certainly the most interesting. I wasn't sure how long I would be able to stay due to the potential for snowfall and my lack of winter weather driving experience. Conference co-organizer, Anton Zuiker, made sure that I got my locopop before I left, so I felt fulfilled. Both Anton and Bora Zivkovic did an unbelievable job at putting together a tremendous conference. To provide just one example, the swag bag (a lovely canvas bag in itself) was filled with eleven science magazines, two books and various other goodies. It weighed a ton.

Conferences are such great places to talk with new people. In fact, I met several readers of this blog for the first time, which was really exciting. Of course, the trick is to keep that communication going after the event is over, but I'd like to think that's easier when you're meeting bloggers.

One of the most interesting breakout sessions I attended was a discussion of science journalism, lead by Adnaan Wasey, from PBS. It gave me more insight into some of the differences in journalism and blogging. For example, journalists are trained to always be objective, while bloggers are, almost by definition, opinionated. In addition, articles written on the behalf of a larger entity are often moderated. Having blogged now for several years, I'm not sure how I would like giving up my freedom to express what I actually think in an unadulterated form. The discussion certainly made me appreciate the still novel notion of self-publication.

I really enjoyed a survey of humanities and social sciences blogging by Martin Rundkvist. I also attended a session lead by Dave Munger, who gave an excellent and thorough overview of ways to add interactivity to one's blog and self-promote it. After that, the snow was starting to stick in Hillsborough, so I thought I should drive home. My participation, however, wasn't over, because from home I watched the live streaming video of the rest of the sessions, provided by Wayne Sutton.One of the many benefits of attending this conference was learning about some of the science blogs and bloggers out there. I've been reading Bora's blog more and more, which is an overwhelming resource for learning about the ever growing population of science blogs. This experience reminded me how much I used to love reading science magazines before my time and energy became stolen by college and work that followed. With blogs and RSS, it makes it much easier to sneak in science reading in our infinite spare time.

Another general sense that I acquired while attending today is just how important it was. The presidential candidate whose name I heard by far more than any other today was Huckabee and I heard so many concerns about what people do or not believe and the fundamentals that they don't know. If we don't use any method we can to educate the public and their children about science and research, regardless of the political climate, what hope do we really have?

More posts regarding the conference
More photos from the conference


  1. Good to meet you, and thank you for your kind words!

  2. It was great to see you again yesterday and I am glad you had fun at the Conference. See you at the next blogger meetup, I hope.