25 September 2013

Sackler improves

After criticizing the Sackler science symposium yesterday for looking stiff and not communicating well yesterday, I was pleasantly surprised by day two. For instance, two business marketers, Peter Zandan and Davis Masten, gave a very engaging talk with a different, non-academic perspective.

Later, Deb Koy got away from “death by PowerPoint slides.” Many people, including me, asked on Twitter how much time and money went into producing his excellent data animations. I suspected the costs, either financial or person hours, are not trivial. And I was correct. Koy answered (my emphasis):

My #sackler visualizations were result of 4-month collaboration with Philip DeCamp. Storyboards -> vis software -> feed real data

This is important. Excellent communication is hard work. And it seems people want to outreach, but want it for free. Peter Zandan and Davis Masten showed a graph showing much much money is spent on marketing and advertising, and science communication is dwarfed, probably more than ten to one. Via Twitter, I asked, “Who’s going to pay for science communication?” The answer was that the barriers have been lowered because of social media, and that good messages can “go viral” for very little cost. True, but resources still matter.

The panels looked more energized:

And it even got a little sexy when Julie Downs discussed communication with teenage girls about sexual health. Randy Olson often talks about communicating through the “lower organs,” including the sex organs, but it’s rare to see it this literally...

But not all was well. Claire tweeted:

Can someone please translate? I don't speak research scientist...

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Sackler symposium still doesn’t practice what it preaches

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