ScienceOnline Warm-up: thinking about information and communication

Yet again this year I am lucky enough to be attending ScienceOnline unconference on science communication in January. I succeeded in registering in time – they were full up & adding people to the waiting list in less than one hour – & I’m so excited to be going that I already have gotten my hotel reservations & have begun ‘preparing’ (as requested by Anton & Bora) by specifically reading attendee blogs & thinking about various mechanisms for scientific communication. As I confessed in the past, I am by nature an introvert -social media and blogging do not flow naturally and abundantly from me. But in an effort to learn and grow I’ve been reading and dabbling more in social media outlets. I find the scope of venues and their ‘personalities’ really very interesting. I have begun to formulate the opinion that social media in general and scientific communication in specific are very similar to science careers – there really is an option out there that is perfect for anyone. The bugger is finding your perfect match and then using it efficiently & effectively. Below is an amorphous reporting on various things that  I (at least loosely) associate with the topics of communication & information:

The November 5th issue of Science has an article “Open mHealth Architecture: An Engine for Health Care Innovation”  (available here without a subscription) describing a health care delivery system using mobile communication devises – mHealth. The entire article makes a lot of sense, describing how ‘stovepipe’ mHealth apps mean duplicated patient efforts and information blockades for health care provides. It suggests a public-private partnership to create an “open” architecture and standards similar to the internet where apps use standard formats and can all feed data into and retrieve data from the same central “data vaults”. I find little to argue with in the article, but also few details on how this could practically be accomplished or who could/would lead the effort. The article’s authors are associated with UCLA and UCSF, and are also listed as contacts for the Open mHealth organization (not strictly pointed out  in the article).

Another interesting concept in health care is offered in the article “When Facebook is your Medical Record“. As implied by the title of the post, it will be interesting to see what’s developed & what’s been dropped as techniques in health care. From my own Facebook experiences I wonder how easy it is to find large numbers of patients and search their posts for health information. Any thoughts on this would be appreciated.

The next item that has caught my attention is the Nature article on biohackers entitled “Garage biotech: Life hackers“. This may not seem like science communication, but the amateur biologists had to gain excitement about science from somewhere before wanting to go out & convert their garage/basement into a lab. I’ve been hearing about DIYbio.org for at least a couple of years now, and recently found a ‘pre DIYbio blog‘, though it seems to be  inactive of late.

And for those of you with a subscription to Science, here’s an interesting article: “Reducing the Gender Achievement Gap in College Science: A Classroom Study of Values Affirmation“, which I found through a LinkedIn discussion. It describes a short, affirmative writing exercise performed off and on throughout the course of an intro physics class. The researchers report increased grades & class success for women in the affirmation group over women in the control group. Men did not show a difference. I’m not sure if writing about my core values would have been able to affirm me enough to raise my Physics grades – I wasn’t so much buying into the stereotype that men were better at Physics, more the fact that Physics just wasn’t my bag of tea. And the authors are quick to state that the intervention is only one tool, not a silver bullet, to solving the complex issue of gender inequity in science.

I’ll update this post with my continuingly random finds. Feel free to add your thoughts & finds here too…