I was not at Science Online last week. I went in 2007 and in 2009 and I keep meaning to go back, but every year something comes up. It’s ironic that work is preventing me from hanging out with the community that got me into the work I do in the first place, but most of all it’s frustrating to not be where the action is. These are my people! Why was I not there?
Luckily, this year there was an opportunity to join in from a distance via locally organised Watch Parties, where people could get together to watch some of the sessions. Since nobody was organising one in the UK yet, I stepped forward, with Erika Cule, to organise one in London.
We managed to book a great space, the Imperial College Union Cinema, where we could project the talks on a cinema screen, and drag around chairs wherever we wanted to sit.
Can you guess which of these people is not on Twitter?
We planned the event so that it happened while the Science Online conference was going on, and we could watch one of the talks live. Not only that, but we also managed to arrange a Skype call with some of the people at the conference. That was fun, and made it feel like we were really a part of it. Big thanks to Laura Wheeler and Lou Woodley for coordinating the North Carolina side of things.
The conference side of the Skype call. Look how organised they are!
The London side of the call. Chaos.
We let people vote which of the recorded talks they wanted to see, and the session about narrative in science writing won. Even the non-writers found this interesting, because everyone is a reader, and it’s fun to learn the tricks writers use to grab your attention.
We watched “Life in the Venn” live, and laughed along with everyone on Twitter (from within the conference and beyond) about the hat analogies. SO MANY HATS. Hats hats hats. Hats. We had a discussion afterwards in which it was clear that most of the attendees at the London Watch Party were also wearing multiple metaphorical hats: blogger and researcher, Twitterer and policy professional, writer and blogger, someone’s student and own independent communicator, and many other combinations.
The last talk we watched was about dealing with cynics and trolls, but by this point half of the attendees had had to leave to catch a train or bus home.
It had been a pretty long day for some of us, because a small group started at the Science Museum in the early afternoon, to see the Turing exhibit. You can see some of that in the video below, but I’ll tell you ALL about the zombies and Turing on Tuesday, in my Science Tourist post.