Communicating Science and Connecting people: An interview with Bora Zivkovic, the Scientific American editor 2012-08-20


“Jean Cocteau once said that the art is science made clear, but what he didn’t indicate is that the science is creating different forms of art including the art of connecting people and communicating science. Bora Zivkovic is a unique, energetic, technologically-savvy, and multidisciplinary scientist, connector, and blogger... I would say that Bora is the real science connector, not only communicating and articulating science in its many forms but also connecting people, networks, and the scientific communities world wide... He started A Blog Around the Clock in 2004 as a prolific science blogger. He was the online Community Manager for the open access journal PLoS ONE. He is now the editor of Scientific American’s blog network, organizes the annual ScienceOnline conference, and is the editor of The Open Laboratory, an annual collection of the best writing from science blogs... I had an opportunity to interview him and here are the questions and perceptive, knowledgeable, and fun responses... [Q] How do you feel after this year’s conference [Science Online 2012] ? Do you think that some things and social dynamics during this conference have changed comparing to previous conferences? ... [A] We were very aware that growing a meeting by 50% can change the dynamics... [Q] What are the best strategies for building and maintaining blog network (out of scratch)? [A] The key to the success of a network are its people. I had the luxury of having nine long months to think about it. I dug through the archives and started following literally thousands of science blogs. I used Twitter to ask for suggestions for even more blogs, especially blogs that do a particular ‘thing’, e.g,. writing about a particular topic in a particular style. What I was looking for was to assemble a team, rather than produce a “best of” list. I wanted a group of people who will be joy to work with, who will have fun communicating with each other in the backforums and in their blogs’ comment sections, and who will be naturally inclined to feel as members of a community, not just writers for hire. Of course, there are many people like that, so I also made sure that, within the limits of size and budget, I include quite a lot of diversity. When I say ‘diversity’ I am not talking just about coverage of as many topics and scientific disciplines as we can accommodate, but also diversity in voices. I wanted to have people on the network who can speak to different audiences, so I wanted to find people of varied backgrounds (geography, career path, age, gender, race/ethnicity, etc.), with different writing styles, writing at different “reading levels”, etc, in order to capture as broad and varied audience for the network as a whole. Inclusion of several bloggers who communicate well using media other than text was also very important to me, as art, illustration, video, music, photography, cartoons, animations, infographics and other ways of communicating science are just as important as good text writing for extending our reach and capture new audiences... [Q] As a science blogger and network community manager, what’s the one piece of advice you would give to people who want to curate and manage their local and national blogging communities? And what is your advice to bloggers, scholars, scientists, educators, and journalists who want to write for those scientific online networks? ... [A] Analyze the audience. Make a vision that fits it (and expands to other audiences you want to attract). Then – ignore personal friendships! ... [Q] What social web tools are you using these days the most besides Twitter? What social media tools help you now for promoting the work and networking and which one do you use for professional development?... [A] Twitter is still my main social network where I spend the most time and do most of the interaction – this is where I discover stuff, promote stuff, and talk with people. I also post links to most of my bloggers’ posts on my Facebook and Google Plus pages... I am only very superficially exploring the worlds of Tumblr, Posterous, Quora and Pinterest, am studiously avoiding LinkedIn.. and use other sites (e.g., YouTube and Flickr) mainly as repositories rather than places where I expect to get much interraction... I see quite a lot of potential in Google Plus... [Q] How do you see the impact of open access on the science, education, and communication online? ... [A] Open Science (including, but not limited to, Open Access publishing) is a necessity. It will happen no matter what we do or don’t do. The business realities, the technological capabilities, the will of the people, the habits of media use by next generation, all of those are conspiring to make Open Science a reality in the near future. The question is, how near is that ‘near future’?... [Q] You have an extensive, rich experience in the scientific blogging community. How do you think blogs have changed the scientific landscape? What is the way to activate scholars and scientists to start blogging and join the scientific blogging communities?... [A] Blog is software. One can do m



08/16/2012, 06:08

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Tags: oa.advocacy oa.open_science oa.oer oa.social_media oa.twitter oa.courseware oa.lay oa.blogging oa.encouragement oa.facebook oa.blogs oa.interviews oa.repositories oa.journals



Date tagged:

08/20/2012, 14:48

Date published:

02/29/2012, 19:50