Science and Storytelling at YouTube

London is one of six cities around the world where YouTube has a physical location open to their creators. YouTube Space London has been organising some events focused on science and storytelling this year, and last night I attended the second of these events.

I went to the first event earlier this year, where the focus was very much on the arts, and on diversity on YouTube. Yesterday, the line-up was very scientific. Panelists were Sophie Scott, Jenny Rohn, Nazneen Rahman, Zita Martins, Hannah Fry, Luke Cutforth, and Matt Stuttle. Most of them (all except Luke, the token storyteller on the panel) worked in scientific roles, and many fields were represented, from genomics to mathematics.

The evening was co-organised by Ann Merchant from the Science and Entertainment Exchange of the NYAS, who introduced us to the “science speed dating” model they have been using in New York. All attendees were split into groups and put in rooms across the Google office. The panelists then went from room to room, talking to each of us for seven minutes each.

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Perhaps appropriate for a “science speed dating” event, Hannah Fry talked about the mathematics of OKCupid

It was very fast-paced, and most speakers used their allocated time to talk only about their work. Only the first two visitors to our room (Luke and Jenny) took some time to talk about themselves. Jenny (who I already knew) talked about her interest in LabLit and the accurate representation of scientists in media, and Luke mentioned that he was offered a place to study physics at university, but decided to focus on a YouTube career instead. I liked those little personal introductions, and it would have been great if everyone had incorporated something like that in their seven minutes.

My group, group 1, was the first to meet and we had some time to meet each other before we were put into our room, but the last teams to assemble wouldn’t have had any time at all to chat before being put in a room with a scientist talking about their work. Some of the panelists mentioned afterwards that a few of the groups just quietly sat there and didn’t react much. That might have been prevented by having everyone find their group mates during the reception before the main event started. We were already mingling, just not necessarily with our groups.

But other than that, it was a fantastic event! I tried to livetweet as best as I could, and a Storify of those tweets, as well as some others from the evening, is below.

There are still two more Science and Storytelling events to come later this year at YouTube Space London (as well as some of the other Spaces) so keep an eye out for that on your local YouTube Space site.