BUT, here I am, and “here” happens to be at the National Association of Science Writer’s conference in Palo Alto, CA. Following that conference is the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing New Horizons in Science Briefings, but I’m going to lump my blogs on the two conferences under this one “NASW” heading. If you hate science writing, just ignore my posts this week. But, I mean, who hates science writing? 🙂 Or, at least who that is reading this blog would hate science writing? You’re at the wrong place. Go read about beer brewing, knitting, or NASCAR instead. Actually, there’s science in all of those. So, never mind, you’re screwed.
Since I usually write about science education instead of communication and writing, I’ll take a quick minute to tell you about the Science Writers association and conferences. NASW is basically a trade organization for science writers, which includes magazine, radio, web, book and newspaper writers who write about science and medicine, as well as public information officers at universities who are charged with the onerous job of getting information about their institution’s researchers out to the general public by sending out press releases to journalists. The conference is delightful — a plethora of topics such as using social media to reach audiences, how to run a successful freelance business, telling story through video, and tech tools for writers. I’ll post some blog posts about the different sessions, and the graduate students at UC Santa Cruz are Twittering on the conference. It’s easier to understand the twitters if you look at the program for NASW and CASW to see what session they are twittering about. (The letters/numbers denote the program number, and initials denote the speaker’s initials).
One delightful side effect (or, one might argue, the main point) of the conference is that you get to see a bunch of people from your past. So, I ran into David Ehrenstein of Physical Review Focus (toughest editor you could ever love), Robert Frederick (podcaster for Science magazine), Erin Digitalis of Stanford (I did the AAAS Mass Media Fellowship with both Robert and Eri), Corinna Wu formerly of Science Update, Davide Castelvecci (formerly of Science News and now going to Scientific American), Mary Miller of the Exploratorium, Michael Riordan of UC Santa Cruz, and I think that’s it for now. . I saw Joe Palca from a distance (he’s at NPR, where I did my Mass Media fellowship), and saw author KC Cole from across the room. It was fun, too, I asked one reporter if he liked the audio recorder I saw him using, and as he talked I realized he was Steve Mirsky of Scientific American – I recognized his voice from listening to the podcast. It’s funny how weird it is to see someone’s face as they talk when you’re used to hearing their disembodied voice all the time. Every field has its stars, and isn’t it funny how we get excited about meeting them, or having some foothold in the community? I do enjoy it.
But the most relevant (and perhaps the most fun) was getting to see Jen Ouellette of Cocktail Party Physics in person (hi Jennifer!). I’ve seen her before, when she gave a talk on blogging a few years ago, and I thought, huh, that sounds interesting. Since I started focusing on my blog we’ve done some cross-linking and some nice e-conversations. Seeing her at the conference felt like seeing an old friend. She’s also written a very nice post about the NASW conference, which I’ll link to in some more detail when I write my detailed session notes.
OK, back to the races, to learn about how talking machines can manipulate our minds!