Continuing with the tradition from last two years, I will occasionally post interviews with some of the participants of the ScienceOnline2010 conference that was held in the Research Triangle Park, NC back in January. See all the interviews in this series here. You can check out previous years' interviews as well: 2008 and 2009.
Today, I asked Jeff Ives from the New England Aquarium to answer a few questions.
Welcome to A Blog Around The Clock. Would you, please, tell my readers a little bit more about yourself? Where are you coming from (both geographically and philosophically)? What is your (scientific) background?
Hi! Happy to be a part of ABATC! I work at the New England Aquarium spreading the word about the institution's work on research, conservation, exploration and animal rescue. I'm an English major who grew up on the border of Oregon and Washington. However, with the help of all the talented scientists I come in contact with, I am learning the ropes of ocean science.
Tell us a little more about your career trajectory so far: interesting projects past and present?
I started out substitute teaching middle school and high school. Then I moved on to work in educational publishing. That experience helps me today as I communicate complex scientific ideas to a mass audience.
What is taking up the most of your time and passion these days? What are your goals?
The Aquarium has built a strong online presence based on researchers and aquarists blogging their work with the animals directly to the public. I am excited to promote their stories to the online community. My goal is always to improve those online resources and get them out to more people. At the same time, I'm always looking for ways to build connections with people working on similar projects.
What aspect of science communication and/or particular use of the Web in science interests you the most?
When the Aquarium began working on these kinds of web projects, I was focused on getting researcher and animal stories out to the public. Now that we have hundreds of stories, photos and videos to our online content, I find myself more focused on organizing and promoting this content. In addition to our use of facebook, twitter, tumblr and other social networks, the Aquarium is getting involved in peer reviewed reference websites, pooling blog resources and using content for online issues advocacy. The Aquarium recently launched its own social network along these lines.
How does (if it does) blogging figure in your work? How about social networks, e.g., Twitter, FriendFeed and Facebook? Do you find all this online activity to be a net positive (or even a necessity) in what you do?
The Aquarium uses the blogs and social networks to connect with an audience for our animal stories and conservation message. I would agree with many of your interviewees who have called this a necessity. These social networks seem to be baseline outreach strategy. Like many of the folks at Science Online 2010, I'm always on the lookout for game changing online tools, and trying to imagine the future of online communications using those tools. Here's hoping projects like Google Wave and cloud storage live up to the hype.
When and how did you first discover science blogs? What are some of your favourites? Have you discovered any cool science blogs by the participants at the Conference?
I was a longtime fan of Deep Sea News before they moved off of Scienceblogs. They were a gateway drug for reading this blog, Zooillogix and Shifting Baselines. Now that I've been to Science Online and met other bloggers, I've expanded my RSS subscription to the megafeed... which isn't easy to keep up with, but I enjoy trying! I was really happy to come to the conference and meet the folks from Southern Fried Science, The Beagle Project, NASA blogs, Cephalopodcast, Flying Trilobyte, Oyster's Garter and a bunch more...
What was the best aspect of ScienceOnline2010 for you? Any suggestions for next year? Is there anything that happened at this Conference - a session, something someone said or did or wrote - that will change the way you think about science communication, or something that you will take with you to your job, blog-reading and blog-writing?
I liked the unconference format of many of the presentations. I'd like to see more of that kind of small group, facilitated discussion. I was also a big fan of seeing Google SideWiki at the conference and I'd love to see more service providers present to pitch their tools and ideas to the community.
It was so nice to meet you and thank you for the interview. I hope to see you again next January.
Anytime. As long as the invites keep coming, I'll be there!