23 September 2013

Sackler symposium still doesn’t practice what it preaches

Last year, I was fairly critical of the National Academy of Science’s Sackler symposium on science communication. A second one is running now, and I was hoping to see some improvements. And there were  maybe a few. There seemed to be a better mix of men and women, for instance.

I was not able to watch and listen to all of the talks on Monday, but still... I was left with a very familiar feeling.

Rob Simmon tweeted this picture, saying:

Slides at #sackler haven’t been great, but not bad. However, we’ve reached the dreaded wall of text:



I cannot quite believe that at a symposium devoted to excellence in communication would showcase such a completely tone-deaf attempt at communicatiom.

Shortly after that, I flipped over to the live stream and saw this:


Tiny legend, the ubiquitous boxes (overlapping text), and a virtual rainbow of colours, title overlapping the data, and pointless branding in the bottom. Does anyone think these are excellent examples of visual communication?

A typical image of panelists in the life feed was like this:


My reaction:


Hardly anyone looks comfortable. It’s the impression I keep getting from this symposium, both years: terribly earnest, and terribly conservative.

Related posts

Self-defeating prophecy
Science communicators need to lead by example

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