ScienceOnline'09 - The Program


With almost a hundred people already signed up for ScienceOnline'09, we are busily working on the Program.

But we do not want to force a program on you - we want you to help design the program that you will enjoy and find useful. We need you to look at the Program page and tell us what you think and what you offer to do. You can e-mail me or you can edit the Program page and add your name next to one of the suggested topics or add a new topic on the bottom.

Keep in mind that this is the Third conference. While it needs to cover some of the basics (e.g., "Why blog?" or "What is Open Access?") for the people who are coming for the first time, most of the program should go beyond the basics and not be just a repeat of the sessions we had the past two years.

Analyzing your feedback after the last two conferences provided us with incentives to do things that many people asked for:

First, doubling the duration of the meeting - which does not mean we'll get double the funding (unless you helps us with sponsorship) so we have to be frugal and carefully allocate the funds.

Second, having more sessions devoted to the educational aspects.

Third, trying to have all sessions live-streamed or recorded.

Fourth, do the "Blogging 101" session on site, during the conference, as it is difficult to go all the way to UNC for it the day before. Sigma Xi, the hotel and the airport are very close to each other, but venturing outside that small area requires us to take care of transportation, which can be costly (unless we get enough locals to volunteer to drive).

So, on Thursday, January 15th, some locals and any visitors already in town are invited to join us for the Early Bird Dinner (Place and time TBD.).

On Friday, January 16th, we will have, as we did last year, Science lab and museum tours in the morning. We'll arrange for groups of 5-10 conference attendees to visit local science labs to get an introduction to the research and resources at that particular lab, or to one of the local science/nature museums. We'll have a sign-up sheet up soon, as soon as we finalize the deals with all the local participating labs and museums.

In addition, for those who prefer food to science (or prefer to combine the two), and knowing that the Triangle is quite a 'foodie' place, we will have some tours of the local eateries, coffee shops and wine shops and agricultural science places. As soon as we finalize those deals, you will be able to sign up for them as well.

In the afternoon and evening, we will gather at Sigma Xi. The Friday will be sponsored and organized by Duke WiSE. It will start with the Women in Science & Engineering networking dinner, followed by the Keynote Address by a prominent woman science communicator.

Saturday, January 17th is the Big Day! We will have break-out sessions all day (with breaks for lunch and then a dinner at the end). Sessions will be 70 minutes long and there will be four sessions going on simultaneously.

We would prefer most of the sessions to be in an "unconference" format, predicated on the assumption that all the people in the room (people 'formerly known as audience') will collectively have more knowledge about the subject than the 'expert' at the head of the room. The role of the session leader is to introduce the subject, set the limits and goals, engage the audience in discussion, prevent any single individual from 'hogging' the conversation, and preventing the discussion from veering too far and too long off on tangents. So, if the session leader ends up talking for an hour, you are doing it wrong ;-)

We will have four tracks:

1. science/health/nature blogging
2. science communication and education
3. doing and publishing science
4. show-and-tell quick sessions (these will be 15 minutes long and in a presentation/demo format).

Each track will have sessions targeting different audiences (e.g., beginner bloggers, experienced bloggers, scientists, students, teachers, journalists, etc.).

The program, in the same format, will continue on Sunday, January 18th, until 2pm (we may plan some interesting kind of lunch for the end).

We have already been in touch with a number of potential leaders who contacted us. Go to the Program page (which does not reflect everything we are negotiating right now, but will soon) check out the proposed topics and add your name to one you would like to lead, or add a new idea at the bottom. Discuss the topics and descriptions there. Topics that appear to garner the most interest are more likely to be picked (there is just not enough time and space to have them all!).

As some of the sessions get "fixed in stone" I will edit the Program page to reflect this. In the meantime, we are all ears - we want to hear what you want. And we'll work with you to make it happen.


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Lordy Lord.

More than before, I really seriously need to get my ass over to NC in person this time around. I can't see any problem in covering my accom expenses from my limited budget, but the travel costs from the UK remains a copious enigma.

Whilst cooking dinner tonight, some (funding) ideas came up, some of which I might be best to further by email. I would prefer if possible to sound ideas around in the blogosphere. Since I'm not part of any Institution and can't seek funding from my employer (my science/blogging interests are totally outwith that remit), as matters stand, I may have to join in remotely :-(

Ideas/suggestions please.


Graham aka McDawg