Tag Archives: facebook

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…

SciVee and OpenHelix

Visit Genomics Resource Training Community If you haven’t noticed, we’ve started adding our tips of the week to SciVee and using the embed to embed them here. This allows you to view the video and share it on your web site or with friends. We’ve also created a “community” over at SciVee we’ve called “Genome Resource Training” where we will be gathering all these video tutorial tips along with any other video tutorials we find over at SciVee that train or introduce researchers on some of the huge amount of resources out there (click the “SciVee” icon above to visit the community). We’ve got about 8 tips over there now and another 8 or so videos from other sources. This community will only grow! So, come check it out, join SciVee and join our community! Of course you will _always_ find our tips here and much more on this blog, so keep us in your feeds and bookmarks and don’t forget to get some in-depth training with our tutorials! We are looking forward to a longterm and expanding work with SciVee.

We also now have a Facebook page, where we will be posting these tips weekly with an occasional ‘general-interest’ genomics link or two. So, please.. follow us there if you are on Facebook and ‘share with friends!

At Experimental Biology conference next weekend!

I’ll be at the Experimental Biology conference next week. We’ll (OpenHelix of course) will have a booth where we’ll be presenting UCSC Genome Browser Training.

So, come by OpenHelix booth 562 for:

  • a brief demonstration on the features and functionality of the UCSC Genome Browser
  • answers to questions you may have on using the UCSC Genome Browser
  • a free CD with the UCSC Genome Browser tutorial suite, including self run tutorials, PowerPoint presentations and exercises.
  • Quick Reference Card on the UCSC Genome Browser and UCSC Table Browser.

We’ll also will also be presenting its new Genomics Search and Learn Portal. The portal directs scientists to the most relevant publicly available bioinformatics and genomics resources on the web, and then gives them immediate access to tutorials, training materials, and useful tips and information developed by OpenHelix.

Hey, and if nothing else, stop by booth 562  to pick up your free “puzzle” pen (always a popular item).

And of course in our socially networked world, Experimental Biology is on Facebook and interestingly, they’ve got an iPhone/iPad app… guess there always is ‘an app for that’.

Social learning, or is it learning socially?

Deepak asks the question in his latest post, Questions and information streams:

Will we ever be in a situation where we might be at our bench and need to look up something. Today we’d search. Tomorrow will we search, or will we ask, and the appropriate response would be delivered to you, whether it be a search query, or whether it be a response or two or three from people in the field.

He’s looking forward to the possibility. I think that possibility, as he intimates, is there. With Twitter, Friendfeed, Aardvark, Facebook, the new features on Google, and Google Wave it seems to be converging to that possibility.

There are some issues with this. I find Aardvark annoying. I signed up after a guest in our house just got a job there. Perhaps I didn’t give it enough time, or didn’t have enough questions, but for the most part the questions asked through the systems to me I didn’t have the time and/or expertise to answer. I answered a few, but even at 2-3 a day, it was just yet another text or email clogging up my in-stream (my new word… inbox, text, etc., that comes in). Perhaps it would be different with a very focused group, like bench scientists.

Or parents. I belong to a parenting group on an ‘old-fashioned’ internet bulletin board. I’ve belonged to this board since before our daughter was adopted, nearly 8 years. It has been a invaluable source of information, advice and discussion in raising our daughter. With 200 active parents (mainly mothers) on the boards, the questions are answered within minutes often. That’s been a boon when a 2-year old is in an hour long tantrum and you are at a loss of what to do.

Of course, these are just extensions of our real life social networks, the lab and department where we do our research are invaluable and necessary for learning from others, asking questions, finding the right technique or resource. Our family and friends in parenting. The internet, with past applications like bulletin boards and chat and more recent and future ones like twitters and waves, is really only an extension and a more rapid tempo of our real life learning networks.

And I can see where this extension are, and could be, very helpful in science, both benchwork and computer research. Often it could be a boon to have an answer quickly.

Or it could be annoying to get asked a lot.