Talkfest: A confession

July 17th, 2010

Spangly cupcakes

I have an ugly confession to make. Like Shane at Gallomanor‘s blog, I left last Thursday’s UKĀ Science Blogging Talkfest slightly disappointed. I feel bad admitting to this because the people were lovely, I am grateful to the organisers and there were spangly cakes.

Having blogged for a week now, I rocked up at the Talkfest full of practical questions about blogging. How do I share interesting science with my readers more effectively? What’s a good WordPress theme for science blogging? How do I respond if climate skeptics converge en masse on my site?

Cake beforehand and the pub afterwards (sadly, I had to leave early) allowed some opportunity to chat. The business part of the event, however, was a Q&A session with six ‘celebrity’ bloggers. The questions focused on the wider social impact of blogging, something I couldn’t care less about in my role as a blogger.

I’m starting an OU part-time MSc in Science and Society in January and, from an academic science communication perspective, it was an interesting event. But, speaking as a science blogger, I felt getting some of the most widely-read science bloggers in the world to talk about social impacts wasted their talents. I wanted to hear about blogging.

Is this the secret of Not Exactly Rocket Science's success? Sadly, we didn't find out

Ed Yong from Not Exactly Rocket Science – for example – seems a lovely bloke with loads to say about how to build readership, how to entertain readers with science and keep them coming back. Duck penises help, but I’m definite he has much more to say. If I’d known the session was going to be so academic and theoretical, I would have dropped in a few questions. But hindsight ain’t worth a damn.

Categories: Short walks

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  2. alice

    Ha! Fair enough, but if you thought the other night was “academic and theoretical” wait till you start your OU course (and if not, Dr Holliman ain’t doing it right).

    You want a masterclass in science blogging? Simple: Read some blogs, and spend as much time as you can writing your own. Personally, I think blogging is a craft. You learn how to be “good” gradually – it can’t be taught. Moreover, I’d also say you learn how to be “good” by reflecting on what “good” is. Which is why that event was designed the way it was.

    I suspect the best spin-off of the event would be to run a series of informal science blogging meet-ups where specific topics can be debated, and (more relevant to you maybe, if you don’t like the chit-chat…) run workshops on specific skills.

    My aim in running the talkfest was to spark blogposts like this to unearth what sort of things people *did* want to talk about re: science blogging. So thanks. Also – Beck’ll be circulating an online feedback form next week. Do let us know more through that.

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  4. Vivienne

    Thanks for reading and a big thanks again for running the event! An informal blog meet-up is a great idea. Perhaps I should see if any environmental/climate science bloggers are interested…

    Good to know the OU course will be theoretical. I’m an ‘all-action’ science writer and wanted to create some space in my life to reflect on what I do.

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