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Posted by on Oct 2, 2011 in News | 0 comments

A short history of the conference

ScienceOnline2012 will be the sixth annual conference. Here’s some background about how the event got started, and why we hold it each year in North Carolina.

Bora Zivkovic is the inspiration and heart of ScienceOnline. He explained the genesis of our first conference, then called the 2007 North Carolina Science Blogging Conference, in this post.

The idea: to mix science bloggers with others who are interested in science communication – scientists and students, science teachers, librarians, writers and journalists, journal editors and local elected officials, software developers and science museum staff. This way, we could have a very fertile and exciting exchange of ideas.

From the beginning, our goal has been to gather scientists, journalists, educators, students, librarians, bloggers and anyone else interested in exploring the ways of the Web and how to harness these tools to do science, communicate science, promote science and picture science.

The conference program, which includes keynote addresses, skills workshops, science lab and museum tours, and open discussions, is built from ideas and proposals posted on a wiki open to the community in the year leading up to the event. This is an unconference style of gathering. Session moderators facilitate discussions, and everyone in the room is encouraged to share their experience, questions and ideas.

After each conference, we write the wrap-up post that reflects the amazing convergence of ideas, efforts, resources and funds that made the event possible. ScienceOnline2011, the fifth annual conference, was the biggest, longest and most intense yet, with the longest thank-you post. We thanked the participants and sponsors of ScienceOnline2010 here, ScienceOnline’09 here, the 2008 NC Science Blogging Conference here and the 2007 NC Science Blogging Conference here.

Notice that the conference has grown in size, duration and scope. Bora and I, and a team of other coordinators and volunteers, collaborate on the logistics of the event, but it’s the energy and ideas of the online science community – spread across the country and around the world, in all areas of science and medicine – that give vitality to the yearlong conversation.

We’ve kept the conference anchored to North Carolina because of this state’s history in promoting science community – we’re proud of the Research Triangle Park, which for 50 years has fostered research, development and innovation. We like to think of ScienceOnline as a virtual embodiment of the physical values of RTP.

Really want to get a sense of the conference? Read from the hundreds of blog posts published before, during and after ScienceOnline2011 on the Blog and Media coverage page. ScienceOnline2010 blog posts are listed here.

Hope to see you in January at ScienceOnline2012.

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