I'm obviously thankful for a lot this year - family, friends, a job that gives me flexibility and keeps things interesting, and so on. I"m very grateful for the opportunity to contribute at some great blogs beyond my own - Science Cheerleader, Earth & Industry, and Global Voices Online. I thought I'd put together a post with some of my favorite links from the year -all from other people (aside from my participation in one podcast) that help me appreciate the variety of the communities I navigate. I'll get right to it...
Links to all the posts that reviewed ScienceOnline 2010. Looking forward to #scio11 as I've gotten to know the organizers a bit more over the past year.
Earth & Industry's Gang of Four Predictions for 2010. Listen again to this podcast and see how we did. I'm very thankful for the opportunity to collaborate with three real-deal green bloggers.
So I went to the White House today... few posts demonstrate the influence and independence of political bloggers than my pal John Aravosis' summary of his meeting with a few folks at 1600 Pennsylvania. Since then other contributors to Americablog have met with the President directly.
Three Bad Ideas for Helping Haiti. This was the post that really turned me on to Alanna Shaikh's ideas about global development. I'm very grateful that I had the chance to chat with her - it was the first time I ever spoke with someone in Tajikistan...
The Great Backyard Bird Count. I admit it - since I moved to NC and have a bigger backyard I've become a bit of a bird nerd. Identifying birds and bird calls has become a bit of a family thing now, and that's a lot of fun.
Nothing is Going to Change Until We're in the Room. Joanne Bamberger makes a pretty simple point here. And she's right. Her writing reminds me the mom-o-sphere is absolutely the most important online community there is.
Team WhyMommy's Virtual Science Fair. To me this is one of 2010's best examples of a community coming together to support one of its own. I'm very thankful that I had the opportunity to meet and talk with Susan Niebur this year, and watch her bridge communities. I spent some time this year trying to think of ways to get mom bloggers involved with science bloggers and this remains better than anything I've tried.
Visualizing the BP Oil Spill. To me the #1 story of the year was the underwater volcano of oil that gushed for three months in the Gulf of Mexico. A lot of clever people used social media and technology tools to help spread the word and help people understand the magnitude of the crisis. This was just one example.
A Farewell to ScienceBlogs. To me this post is the science blogging community's equivalent of Martin Luther nailing the 95 Theses to the door of All Saints Church. (OK, that's a stupid analogy for so many reasons, but still, it was a big deal.) Bora Zivkovic's departure from SEED Media's mothership wasn't the first act of defiance, and it probably wasn't the most impactful from a financial point of view. But Bora is the heart and soul of this community and he's been at the forefront of a renaissance in science writing.
What is UP With All the Tutus? Another great example of the mom-o-sphere coming together to help one of its own. Catherine Connors didn't want to be the Belle of BlogHer, but a comedy (tragedy?) of errors made that happen. The sad, sweet story of her nephew and how she enlists the support of other mom bloggers to help is enormously touching.
New Media, Old Media. The Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism published an eye-opening report on the differences in coverage between the traditional media companies and the new-skool social media crowd.
Why Veterans Day Deserves To Be Celebrated. Julie Marsh issues the serious smackdown to Penelope Trunk. I know Julie pretty well and I think she really took her writing up a notch this year.
22 November 2010
16 November 2010
It's somewhat heartening to learn that some in the scientific community are trying to prepare for the political onslaught that Congressional Republicans and anti-science zealots will be launching next year:
On Monday, the American Geophysical Union, the country's largest association of climate scientists, plans to announce that 700 climate scientists have agreed to speak out as experts on questions about global warming and the role of man-made air pollution.
John Abraham of St. Thomas University in Minnesota, who last May wrote a widely disseminated response to climate change skeptics, is also pulling together a "climate rapid response team," which includes scientists prepared to go before what they consider potentially hostile audiences on conservative talk radio and television shows.The notion that some (not nearly all) scientists want to mix it up a bit and push back on political aggressors is unmistakable progress. But here's the simple truth in politics and PR these days: If you're waiting for something to say something untrue about you or your work before you decide to speak, you're waiting too long.
So what should scientists do now? Simple - strike FIRST. Define the lie. Do it in a political context.
One of the things they could do is hold a press conference in DC before the new Congress is seated and let the political reporters know some basic facts. Not necessarily the science of climate change, because most political reporters don't care about the science of climate change. The basic facts I'm talking about can be summed up thusly: if a politician tells you the jury is still out on man-made climate change, he's lying. Get out there first and define the lie. Yes, it's been said before. But not really in this context - right as a session of Congress is beginning. Make sure everyone knows they're lying - make sure it's the default position. Then let the media investigate the motivation behind the lie.
Then follow up the press conference with editorial board meetings with the newspapers in key Congressional districts (i.e., the members of Congress who chair relevant committees), again with the simple, clear message: if a politician tells you the jury is still out on man-made climate change, he's lying.
Then take the most noteworthy climate scientists in particular states where members of Congress are beholden to those who might see value in obfuscating climate science and have them deliver a clear, simple message to the media there: if a politician tells you the jury is still out on man-made climate change, he's lying.
Do it first. Do it NOW. Do it again and again and again. Have the scientific details available in a hand-out for anyone who asks, but keep the message clear and simple. Yes, it's been done before, but not like this. Hey, politics is inherently uncomfortable, regardless of the level of "civility," but leave no doubt about what's the truth and what's a lie.
If a politician tells you the jury is still out on man-made climate change, he's lying.
04 November 2010
The promise of the "World Wide Web" - breaking barriers, bringing people together and solving problems for the greater good - has been largely unfulfilled. Arguably, social media has contributed to even more isolationism, more homophily, more entrenched positions in our civil discourse. I'm by no means the first person to suggest this.
But it really struck home for me when I saw this: half of the incoming GOP Members of Congress deny the existence of man-made climate change.
The incoming Congress is preparing to conduct hearings and investigations based on a premise virtually all climate scientists know to be demonstrably false. Their actions will prompt the collision of three of "my" online communities - politics, science and environmentalism. The key to how things shake out lies with the fourth community - parents, mainly moms.
First, consider these points:
- The Internet has transformed American politics. In 2008 it gave Democrats a fundraising tool to to compete with the GOP. In 2010 it gave Republicans (or more specifically, hard-right conservatives) an organizing tool and communication platform. It has also prompted the rise of a new community of punditry - political bloggers.
- The blogosphere has given science writers a home. The Pew Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism reports that science topics get ten times the amount of coverage in blogs than in traditional publications.
- One of the reasons commonly cited today for "why the Democrats lost" this week is the decline in support from women - I realize not all women are moms, but moms are actively engaged in civic and political activities.
- Environmentalists are currently struggling mightily to find their collective voice - their "organized" communications efforts range from ineffectual to disgusting.
I'm not trying to make a political statement on energy and the environment here. People can and will have strong differences of opinion on policy; about diversity of fuel portfolio, about efficiency standards, subsidies, and so on. But these discussions should be based on facts. The facts are crystal clear: climate change is real, man's activities contribute significantly to it, and the consequences of inaction are measurable. It's really not even an issue of "agreeing on a set of facts" - facts are facts, whether you agree with them or not. So we're asking communities who frankly don't talk with each other much - scientists, environmentalists, and political activists - to begin a vital conversation with either accusations of fraud or declarations of lunacy.
And this is where the moms come in. Mom is the opinion leader of everyday life. She decides everything from what we're eating for dinner to what car we're buying to what the local school will teach the kids. She represents the demographic that tips the balance between winners and losers. Most importantly, mom is the one who is going to tell each side to stop yelling, accept reality, and figure out a solution anyway - because that's what moms do everyday. And nobody - NOBODY - has really made a meaningful effort to do anything with this community beyond selling it stuff.
So from a competitive standpoint the side that engages mom first and best will probably win. But more importantly, if ANY side engages mom at all, we all win.