Tuesday, January 25, 2011

ScienceOnline2011!

This post is so long overdue, but I really wanted to blog about my second year attending the ScienceOnline (un)conference held in Research Triangle Park, NC. Even though I attended the conference last year as well, this year managed to top even my glowing review of 2010's event.

The main difference between this year and last year for me was that I was able to participate in some of the pre-conference festivities this time around. Thursday night was a presentation by the organizers of the conference, Bora and Anton, using the awesome Prezi software. I always feel like ScienceOnline is one of the most high tech and fun conferences, and discovering Prezi as an alternative to Powerpoint slides was a great example of this. I want to use Prezi when I give my thesis defense to show up everybody else! You can check out the presentation here, which included the embedded video featured at the end of my interview with David Kroll. The Prezi presentation was followed by the keynote speaker, Robert Krulwich of Radiolab fame. It was so incredibly strange to hear what is usually a disembodied radio voice coming from an actual...well, body. I was in nerdgirl heaven because I. LOVE. RADIOLAB. After Krulwich's speech I got on stage with David Kroll and did a live performance of "Minister of the Ether" at the open mike. It was so much fun to play bass on a song with someone I'd just interviewed for SwM, and who has been so helpful and kind to everyone around him. David Kroll actually got a community service award Thursday night too.

Of course, at such a tech-savvy conference, this moment was immortalized on Twitter.

Friday morning brought lab tours and a beer and book reception. The lab tour I chose was a guided tour of the Record exhibit in the Nasher Museum, but I'm just going to gloss over that in favor of gushing about the book and beer reception. Get this: you walk into the door. You are handed a square package wrapped in brown paper. You open it. It's a book. Free. For you. You are overcome with joy. You walk to the bar to get a beer. You order. You try to pay. The bartender tells you, no, it is free. Authors are getting up on stage and reading from their books. You wonder what you did to deserve such merriment. And then, you are mingling, holding your free book and your free beer, and you run into your nerdgirl idol, the keynote speaker from last night, Mr. Robert Krulwich. And you have a five minute conversation with him. And then you go home and die happy. That was totally what happened, minus the dying part. But I was still super happy and even more impressed with the planning of it all.

Saturday and Sunday were the days of the actual conference. I really liked the format of the pre-conference events because by the time the actual conference rolled around I had already met lots of interesting people and felt a little more connected with everybody there. I attended panels on mostly on blogging to a general audience and blog networks. I met people whose writing I'd admired but had previously only known on the internet. Bonds were forged and learning was aquired. There is already tons of great blog coverage of the conference, so I won't get into specifics here, but suffice it to say I learned and gained a lot from interacting with all the people around me. I learned things about how to communicate science more effectively in my posts, and I felt a sense of unity that inspired me to get more involved in connecting with others in the science blogosphere. Getting some invaluable face time with others who believe in the same causes that I do was endlessly rewarding.


At the end of the conference I had met some amazing people, gained several new twitter followers and blogs to read, and had many new ideas to think about and incorporate.
Joseph Hewitt's amazing rendering of yours truly.





Oh, and I gained a comic book with my likeness drawn onto it.

I'll definitely be back next year!

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