“Oh, my ears and whiskers!”
My Facebook profile lists my activities as “Leaving my belongings where they don’t belong and retracing my steps to retrieve them” and this was exactly what I spent some time doing in the morning on Saturday, as I realized that my gloves were not in my hotel room. They were not my $3 H&M gloves, but my nice expensive gloves that I got from my lab as a goodbye present, so I had to find them again. After making hotel staff look all over the place and asking several people at the conference venue, Corie came to the rescue: she had found them in the bar the previous night. Phew!
Because of the gloves, I came late to the first session of the day. I decided to go to Science Fiction on Science Blogs, moderated by Stephanie Zvan and snuck in while it was in full swing. It was one of the sessions I had been looking forward to, so I’m sad to have missed the start of it, but I think I managed to pick it up. Discussions were about whether the science has to be accurate (I actually have a thought brewing about this, so no comment from me here now) and about the image of SF. This is the session for which I previously answered this set of questions.
I skipped the second slot, because I was too scatterbrained to pick one, and instead properly met Stephanie, and talked to Bob and some other people, and carefully selected which sessions I wanted to attend the rest of the weekend. I managed to trim it down to 2 or 3 sessions per time slot (out of four), which is a compliment on the organizers for spreading out such an interesting mix of topics over 1.5 days. The fact that I couldn’t narrow the sessions down further is because I have way too many interests. There were sessions about science&art, science education, publishing, research, blogging, ethics – I like all those things!
I later found out I should have attended the middle/highschool session by Stacey Baker and her class in this time slot. I heard nothing but good things about them!
The next session I attended was the other education session, on teaching college biology using blogs, moderated by Andrea Novicki and Brian Switek. The session was very popular, which was also it’s main problem. We were divided into small groups of four to discuss how blogs could be used in college education, and then reported back with what we discussed. But there were nine groups, and the majority of the time was spent by hearing other people say what they came up with and realizing that we had the same thing.
I do want to share one interesting comment made by one of my group members, Anthony So, which we didn’t have time to add to the main discussion. He said that he noticed a big difference between undergraduate and graduate students in terms of willingness to adopt new media in their projects. The younger students have absolutely no problem with it and are up for anything, while the older students are hesitant. That’s interesting, because we’re talking about an age difference of less than a decade (maybe 5 years on average). Does that mean that the younger generation will bring their media-savviness with them as they continue their career? (And does that not imply that much of what we’re complaining about in terms of people not adopting web 2.0 stuff will solve itself over time?)
Next was lunch, in which I ate lunch. (Previous sentence is in the running for “Most Boring Sentence” on any of my blogs, ever.) I think this was also when I first met the human-flesh versions of Katherine and Bill, but I met so many people that I’m getting kind of confused on when I met people. (And both Henry and I were not entirely sure that this conference was really the first time we had ever met in person, so it’s even hard to figure out when I met people or not.)
Lunch-tip: if you have lunch with Victor, he will give you the stuff he is allergic to (extra cookie!!!)
After lunch, I went to the session about becoming a journal editor, hosted by Peter Binfield and Henry Gee. I had met Peter once before this conference. When I re-met him Friday night, I had to refresh his memory: “I hosted the session on Failure at BioBarCamp” “Oh, right! So what are your career plans? You should come to my session on being a journal editor!” In fact had already planned to attend. I should mention that I object to the use of “alternative career” in describing editing- or other science-related jobs (something I had mentioned in the Failure discussion in August as well, but left out of my ensuing blog post. It was probably this and not my general failure, that prompted Peter’s response). Henry did a great job at also pointing this out in the session. It’s not an “alternative” career, it’s a career! Lots of practical questions were asked and answered in this session.
Next was another session I had been looking forward to, and participated in online before the event: Art & Science, hosted by fellow Torontonian Glendon Mellow (who, despite what I said previously about Toronto being a small town, I had never met before). In preparation of his talk, Glendon had collected several science-inspired art works from various artists and showed those on the screen as starting point for discussions. This wasp was my favourite. It’s by Jessica Palmer of Bioephemera, who was supposed to be at ScienceOnline09 but got mono instead =(
Glendon collected lots of notes about his own session on the wiki and on his blog.
Glendon Mellow showing Jessica Palmer’s artwork on screen
Finally, I went to the social networking session hosted by Deepak Singh and Cameron Neylon. I think the best review I can give you of this is that after the session, Bora came into the room to see what was going on, because he heard so much laughter through the walls from the room next door. We laughed when Henry told us about a social network for urban chicken keepers, we laughed when Cameron showed us his account on Ravelry, and then again when the knitters in the audience added him as their contact on the site during the session.
In between the hilarity, there was some serious discussion about how a lot of people fail at setting up their social networks for scientists. Deepak mentioned the “build it and they will come” mistake. It doesn’t work that way: you need to either already have an audience or seed it before going live.
(Sadly, and possibly ironically, I can’t find a good link for a live report of this session! It’s the kind of thing that Deepak would put online if he hadn’t been presenting.)
Cameron Neylon talking about social networks to Jean-Claude Bradley, Bill Hooker, and Victor Henning. It’s like the internet, in real life
After the sessions ended, we went back to the hotel and had dinner. For reasons I can’t remember, I had my laptop out and showed people a picture of my cat, and Deepak borrowed my laptop to show a YouTube video. Like much of the conference, it was just like the internet, but in real life.
Confused about offline customs, Deepak borrowed my laptop to show people a YouTube video at the dinner table.
Next: part 3!