08 January 2009

SICB in review, part 1


What a wild, full, fun trip the SICB meeting was. Attendance was way up. The rumour I heard was that least year's San Antonio meeting brought in 1,200, but 1,800 showed up at Boston. The hotel was apparently overbooked by 20%.

I'm going to have to break down my review into several bite sized pieces.

A fairly significant element of running through this year's conference was a launch of a major mew website called Understanding Science and that 2009 was dubbed the "Year of Science." Several speakers were brought in as part of those launches.

One of these was Carl Zimmer (pictured), who blogs at The Loom, was there as part of the Year of Science kick-off. Carl described the changes that he's seen from his days of arguing with editors at Discover magazine that they should get email ("What's wrong with the phone?") to how he came to be blogging. Carl likes the immediacy of the medium, and emphasized several times that he can do things that would have been out of the question for print.

During question period, I jokingly told him that, in the spirit of his talk, I Twittered that I was there watching him. Sadly, I did so specifically to try to get a laugh -- which I did. I asked him what he thought made for a successful blog, and he had a good one-liner: "If you don't have comments, you don't have a blog."

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