My compiled live-tweeting of #scio11 sessions

So I’ve made it to Minnesota, where the lovely Stephanie and Ben Zvan are hosting Jodi and I for the rest of our vacation, and this is literally my first chance to actually sit down and post anything on this damn blog. My pre-scheduled posts have all gone up, so it’s time to actually sit and put some effort into my blogging again, as time allows of course. Got lots planned for the week, such that chiseling out some time here and there will be difficult at best. I’m going to have to post some short-form synopses of conversations and events that happened during the conference. Completely out of context of course. Because it’s just funnier that way.

For today, here’s what you missed at the various sessions as I saw it. Distilling conversation to 140 chars on the fly is something of a dark art, so if I took anyone out of context, I apologize, and you’re more than free to correct the record. I was the official live-tweeter for the It’s Geek To Me session, so that’s obviously going to have the most thorough live-tweeting. Enjoy!

Science and Humor:

At Humor panel at #scio11 with @sciencecomedian and @sciencegoddess. Talk of science on TV being homeopathic. I brought up Punkin Chunkin.12:42 PM Jan 15th
Sad that @sciencecomedian ‘s show where he hosts parasites didn’t get picked up. Could have been awesome! #scio11 12:43 PM Jan 15th
Jokes about Schrodinger’s Cat or the Spherical Cow aren’t funny to people without the background. I dunno. Cows are always funny.#scio11 12:48 PM Jan 15th
According to The Onion, the cloned Zac Effron could show more human tendencies, has deadness around the eyes and his skin will melt. #scio11 12:50 PM Jan 15th
We should use humor to help keep attention, and as analogy tool. “Imagine if Flock of Seagulls haircut was genetic” #scio11 12:55 PM Jan 15th
A lot of comedy is non-verbal, e.g. Neil DeGrasse Tyson, his personality can make you laugh while he’s explaining science#scio11 1:01 PM Jan 15th
Personal anecdotes about screw-ups in your career might draw blank stares rather than laughter @drskyskull #scio11 1:06 PM Jan 15th
Humor could be used to sneak science into stories. Humor about subverting expectations, so science can be entertaining. #scio11 1:08 PM Jan 15th
“Like most technology, the telescope was probably used first for porn.” @sciencecomedian #scio11 1:10 PM Jan 15th
Big plug for – and I don’t blame them! Hilarious. #scio11 1:18 PM Jan 15th
RT @AndreaKuszewski: Ooooh! A video clip of Richard Feynman! <3 #scio11 >> I’ll double up on the <3<31:19 PM Jan 15th
Average person would probably think Richard Feinman’s a lunatic, rather than a charismatic science booster #scio11 1:23 PM Jan 15th
@drval That was Neil DeGrasse Tyson I believe.1:24 PM Jan 15th in reply to drval
[email protected]sciencecomedian talks about viruses taking over and changing cell management, e.g. Coke factory forced to make Pepsi #scio11 1:25 PM Jan 15th
“Our universe was so hot that parallel universes were trying to get perpendicular” @sciencecomedian #scio11 1:26 PM Jan 15th
[email protected]teh_skeptic wants more humor for Skeptically Speaking. Hell yes! #scio11 Sat Jan 15 2011 13:31:07 (AST)

Blogs, Blogging and Boundaries:

RT @mclott: only one chair left in room D – it’s a packed house for Blogs, Bloggers and Boundaires? at #scio11 | I’m here!Sat Jan 15 2011 15:02:15 (AST)
Blogs, Blogging and Boundaries at #scio11. Not much research, lots of anecdotes in this room though.Sat Jan 15 2011 15:04:15 (AST)
Arsenic life, want to encourage discussion, but we can’t open the conversation to everyone. Need “spam filter” w/o false positives#scio11 Sat Jan 15 2011 15:07:33 (AST)
Science isn’t a “bubble”, but a field, overlaps with outside areas, hard to cut out non-overlapping. Jargon is a barrier. #scio11 Sat Jan 15 2011 15:09:54 (AST)
[email protected]edyong209‘s accent is nice. I’m just saying. “Foxes have a tendency to pounce toward magnetic north”- paper opened conversation #scio11 Sat Jan 15 2011 15:12:50 (AST)
“Strength of theory depends on ability to come up with alternative explanations”, which may come from laypeople @edyong209 #scio11 Sat Jan 15 2011 15:13:33 (AST)
Someone emailed Ed saying “I’m a chicken farmer and have a chicken that [looks androgynous]” – calling him Mr. Sanders#scio11 Sat Jan 15 2011 15:14:38 (AST)
“Blogs have ability to break down boundaries between scientists [and laypeople]”, can result in citizen science #scio11 Sat Jan 15 2011 15:16:43 (AST)
Blog stats can tell you about user’s browser/OS, but you have to ask them about themselves to find out how/why they came to read you #scio11 Sat Jan 15 2011 15:18:45 (AST)
“This morning was my first time being in a room where someone might be tweeting what I’m talking about, and it petrified me”#scio11 😀Sat Jan 15 2011 15:20:16 (AST)
Metaphor re boundaries being like fluid boundaries, w/ mixing etc. Information boundary fluid, involves mixing sources #scio11 Sat Jan 15 2011 15:22:21 (AST)
Mixing information sources reinforces learning about particular topic. Multiple sources give you better coverage of info #scio11 Sat Jan 15 2011 15:23:51 (AST)
People not using blog as interactive, just using it as information source. Commenting is a space for mixing. #scio11 Sat Jan 15 2011 15:26:20 (AST)
[email protected]mcshanahan discussing mixing within comments -study on newspaper posts where lots of opportunity; commenters “stuck to their own” #scio11 Sat Jan 15 2011 15:28:14 (AST)
Can’t assume that readers online have any prior knowledge about specific topics – need to avoid jargon. Glossaries help. #scio11 Sat Jan 15 2011 15:30:35 (AST)
#scio11 – use “<acronym>” or “<abbr>” tag if you’re wondering how to do glossary tags, bloggers. Just FYI. 🙂Sat Jan 15 2011 15:32:58 (AST)
RT @BoraZ: The term “gestational sacs” was NOT uttered in the parenting session at #scio11 || You lie!Sat Jan 15 2011 15:33:59 (AST)
Traditional media is delineated with how you do what you can do, can only do things “traditionally”. Blogs are different, exciting.#scio11 Sat Jan 15 2011 15:38:11 (AST)
Accidental boundary formation by doing jargon on blogs. “Dude, you’re talking Romulan” @edyong209 #scio11 Sat Jan 15 2011 15:40:19 (AST)
Blogging is a subculture in itself — you may not reach people that would be interested, blogs can be intimidating and too dynamic#scio11Sat Jan 15 2011 15:43:05 (AST)
Commenters can be people with really specialized knowledge, and can intimidate others – will result in “I’m a layperson” disclaimers#scio11 Sat Jan 15 2011 15:44:32 (AST)
[email protected]szvan “If you phrase things, particularly titles, in the form of a question, people might get your post via searches” #scio11 Sat Jan 15 2011 15:45:56 (AST)
Freelancer might be overwhelmed by flood of comments on an article. Might be there’s a technical fix, but it’s a human problem#scio11 Sat Jan 15 2011 15:52:37 (AST)
If you want to reach a wider audience, Twitter is more community of like-minds, may not help with outreach @edyong209 #scio11 Sat Jan 15 2011 15:59:28 (AST)


At my third panel – discovered someone with an HP Mini with Ubuntu. Sitting next to her. Epic win! @bgrassbluecrab #scio11 Sat Jan 15 2011 16:13:30 (AST)
Science Art panel w/ @flyingtrilobite, David Orr and John Hawkes . Analog copy of Glendon’s work. May steal it! #scio11 Sat Jan 15 2011 16:18:57 (AST)
Art and science two fields growing together – art can be used to demonstrate fossils as reconstructed. Considerable interpretation.#scio11 Sat Jan 15 2011 16:21:23 (AST)
RT @minjae: WANT! RT @scio11: We’ll be giving away some of @flyingtrilobite ‘s artwork tonite at #scio11 banquet!! Stay tuned!! || ME TOOSat Jan 15 2011 16:25:13 (AST)
Carl Buell fantastic paleo-artist, scientific illustration to clarify reconstruction of creatures we can’t see any more #scio11 Sat Jan 15 2011 16:26:27 (AST)
Mark Quinn made a mold of his face, and added his own blood (frozen) to make self-portrait using his own blood. Creepy. #scio11 Sat Jan 15 2011 16:27:56 (AST)
Nemo Ramjet does speculative biology, fictional biological creatures, using same reconstruction techniques as paleo-artists#scio11 Sat Jan 15 2011 16:29:50 (AST)
Visual thinkers might be scared by wall of text. Images are extremely helpful in breaking that up. #scio11 Sat Jan 15 2011 16:31:46 (AST)
Audience question to artists regarding whether their art is “free access” for blogging: “lots available, but rights-encumbered.”#scio11 Sat Jan 15 2011 16:32:59 (AST)
[email protected]flyingtrilobite puts lots of work up under Creative Commons, credit him, wants commissions for personal work though. #scio11 Sat Jan 15 2011 16:35:11 (AST)
Amazing picture by Victoria Arbour of Gwawinapterus – looks like Native American totem! #scio11 Sat Jan 15 2011 16:37:54 (AST)
[email protected]flyingtrilobite was criticized on his “Darwin Took Steps” painting, that evolution is not linear like the steps on Darwin’s head #scio11 Sat Jan 15 2011 16:42:44 (AST)
Realism vs interpretive illustrations – micrographs of dendritic formations, acrylic paint, etc., can be compelling for viewers#scio11 Sat Jan 15 2011 16:47:29 (AST)
Illustrations of neanderthals superimpose some human emotion, bridging the gap between us and them. #scio11 Sat Jan 15 2011 16:50:08 (AST)
Interesting paintings of sauropods with modifications – “pimp my ‘pod” at #scio11 Sat Jan 15 2011 16:52:18 (AST)
“Are we trending toward approachable, [positive] representations of neanderthals” rather than glum ones? Now that we’re related…#scio11 Sat Jan 15 2011 16:56:40 (AST)
Anthropological perspective of neanderthals influenced by photos of world cultures where they’re confused / uncertain of camera#scio11 Sat Jan 15 2011 16:57:41 (AST)
Science doesn’t give much to art, art doesn’t give much to science but illustration. Stories of contributions to @flyingtrilobite #scio11 Sat Jan 15 2011 16:59:50 (AST)
[email protected]teh_skeptic “Are there times where illustration of science is detrimental?” e.g. “social darwinism”. #scio11 Sat Jan 15 2011 17:06:40 (AST)
Linear ascent of man evolution picture iconic, but very wrong. Many abstractions of biology are incorrect but not bad to laypeople#scio11 Sat Jan 15 2011 17:07:48 (AST)
Apothecaries in renaissance were same place docs and artists buy materials. Modern times have more divide between art and science#scio11 Sat Jan 15 2011 17:12:45 (AST)
@Benttinen Read your quote for those watching the web feed FYI 😀Sat Jan 15 2011 17:19:28 (AST) in reply to Benttinen
RT @DaveMosher: Yes, this is a test tube. I think. #scio11 || Yeah, I had that problem too…Sat Jan 15 2011 17:42:29 (AST)
RT @BoraZ: ‘But it’s just a blog!’ session at #scio11 about the “impostor syndrome” by young bloggers || Sounds like me. Heh.Sat Jan 15 2011 17:50:01 (AST)

Blogging on the Career Path:

Blogging on the Career Path session about to start at #scio11, being webcast.Sun Jan 16 2011 10:07:23 (AST)
[email protected]drskyskull just got tenure this spring. Woo! Suddenly getting invites to give talks at conferences now. #scio11 Sun Jan 16 2011 10:16:46 (AST)
Panelists made the case that blogging is valuable, got tenure while blogging, @drskyskull actually put it in his tenure package #scio11 Sun Jan 16 2011 10:19:12 (AST)
“Coming out” as a blogger adds normalcy to the practice. Colleagues encouraging students. @drskyskull quantified blog use w/ hits #scio11 Sun Jan 16 2011 10:26:55 (AST)
(oops, wrong name) RT @docfreeride selected representative posts from blog when putting together dossier, to not swamp evaluator #scio11 Sun Jan 16 2011 10:30:55 (AST)
Check uni’s mission statement. Connect blog to local community, offer op-eds to local newspapers. Tie blog to mission statement#scio11 Sun Jan 16 2011 10:33:12 (AST)
John Hawks: Blogs are better read and used than university’s website, which almost nobody uses. Quantify traffic, will look good#scio11 Sun Jan 16 2011 10:34:08 (AST)
Q from audience: what to do when potential employer isn’t impressed re blogging? @docfreeride: Reflect on why you blog, sell it #scio11 Sun Jan 16 2011 10:37:23 (AST)
John Hawks: “95% likely you’ll encounter some asshole” when trying to sell yourself re blogging. “Some sense, nothing you can do” #scio11 Sun Jan 16 2011 10:38:22 (AST)
[email protected]sheril_ – show potential employers the collaboration on blogs that wouldn’t have happened otherwise #scio11 Sun Jan 16 2011 10:41:13 (AST)
John Hawks: “Might be some alumnus from 1953 that wants [to fund your blog / research]” #scio11 Sun Jan 16 2011 10:48:09 (AST)
Hawks: Every other scientist in the field is, like us, lazy, and if you’re doing a good job [explaining research on blogs, it helps]#scio11 Sun Jan 16 2011 10:52:48 (AST)
[email protected]drskyskull Tenure package is four course meal, blog is like dessert. People would dislike only dessert #scio11 Sun Jan 16 2011 10:59:30 (AST)
John Hawks: If you’re making money off your blog, no matter how small, or say anything political, be careful with university #scio11 Sun Jan 16 2011 11:01:12 (AST)

It’s Geek To Me:

[email protected]szvan “Ever relate a story and find yourself elaborating on every little detail? Show of hands. Geeks, all of you!” #scio11 Sun Jan 16 2011 11:19:02 (AST)
[email protected]teh_skeptic “What does geek mean to you?” aud: “Most people my age hear ‘geek’ as an insult, I hear it as passion” #scio11 Sun Jan 16 2011 11:20:35 (AST)
[email protected]teh_skeptic “I don’t know if I think of myself as a geek” aud including Heidi Anderson: “YES YOU ARE” #scio11 Sun Jan 16 2011 11:21:39 (AST)
[email protected]masalaskeptic considers herself not a geek, but speaks geek fluently #scio11 Sun Jan 16 2011 11:22:28 (AST)
Taking questions from chat room at for Geek To Me #scio11 Sun Jan 16 2011 11:23:34 (AST)
[email protected]teh_skeptic Geeks listen a little more closely to podcast than laypeople, fact-check and understand more #scio11 Sun Jan 16 2011 11:25:52 (AST)
aud: “Benefits of attracting geeky audience?” @szvan Geek audiences self-generate energy. Convos keep going long after you leave #scio11 Sun Jan 16 2011 11:27:06 (AST)
Aud: difference between geeks and nerds? @szvan: maybe social skills? yours don’t fit the norm. Though term nerd is exclusionary#scio11 Sun Jan 16 2011 11:28:01 (AST)
aud: “I’m Tom Swanson, I’m a geek.” everyone: “Hi Tom!” #scio11 Sun Jan 16 2011 11:28:24 (AST)
[email protected]teh_skeptic: “Accuracy vs entertainment?” @NoisyAstronomer“Much as I like to be geeky about accuracy, important to keep audience” #scio11 Sun Jan 16 2011 11:29:34 (AST)
aud: “It’s usually okay to be less detailed for sake of entertainment” @szvan: “lose accuracy by abstraction in explaining” #scio11 Sun Jan 16 2011 11:31:03 (AST)
aud: “Is it your job to be as complete as possible for the geeks’ sake?” @szvan Important to provide links to more info for them#scio11 Sun Jan 16 2011 11:32:17 (AST)
aud: Mythbusters shows “warning: science content”, may still be entertaining to laypeople #scio11 Sun Jan 16 2011 11:33:39 (AST)
[email protected]masalaskeptic Self-identified geeks as skepchick readers, but also want general public, try to balance accuracy and entertainment #scio11 Sun Jan 16 2011 11:34:49 (AST)
aud: as communications director in science program, I value self-identified geeks as having higher expertise, can help explain#scio11 Sun Jan 16 2011 11:36:34 (AST)
[email protected]flyingtrilobite if you establish “street cred” with scientists you can throw out some accuracy for entertainment e.g. Far Side #scio11 Sun Jan 16 2011 11:38:15 (AST)
[email protected]masalaskeptic I double and triple check for accuracy due to geek audience, know they’ll call me on anything wrong #scio11 Sun Jan 16 2011 11:39:23 (AST)
[email protected]szvan Things we can do with structure so geek can do deep-dive, headline/intro should be for non-geeks, THEN geek out w/ bumper #scio11 Sun Jan 16 2011 11:41:26 (AST)
[email protected]masalaskeptic Most popular post: rant abt Twilight, every teen girl in country attacked. Title: “Why Twilight is Hurting America”#scio11 Sun Jan 16 2011 11:42:45 (AST)
[email protected]szvan plugs @scicurious Friday Weird Science, almost always about sex but with geeky non-sexy info #scio11 Sun Jan 16 2011 11:44:03 (AST)
aud: successful strategy for catchphrases and in-jokes is to keep them out of the post, let geek commenters do it for you #scio11 Sun Jan 16 2011 11:46:05 (AST)
[email protected]masalaskeptic skepchick has glossary for injokes and tries to limit them but still uses them #scio11 Sun Jan 16 2011 11:46:56 (AST)
aud: find human moment that can relate to audience in broader scientific topics #scio11 Sun Jan 16 2011 11:48:42 (AST)
[email protected]teh_skeptic starts out with question to use people’s innate curiosity @masalaskeptic curiosity human element, people respond to it #scio11 Sun Jan 16 2011 11:50:38 (AST)
Plug for – examples of ways people have died/been hurt/lost money due to pseudoscience #scio11 Sun Jan 16 2011 11:51:24 (AST)
[email protected]szvan lack of data might alienate geeks in attracting non-geeks; failing of people bridging geeks/non-geeks, using human stories#scio11 Sun Jan 16 2011 11:53:37 (AST)
aud: Sports geeks very into statistics and numbers, seems everyone’s capable of being a geek of some sort #scio11 Sun Jan 16 2011 11:55:17 (AST)
[email protected]masalaskeptic is Jim Henson geek – has deep knowledge about Muppets. #thingsilearned at #scio11 Sun Jan 16 2011 11:56:13 (AST)
[email protected]teh_skeptic: finds snark occasionally offputting. Heidi Anderson: likes snark, but hates “pile-ups” – “geek army” can be hurtful#scio11 Sun Jan 16 2011 11:57:36 (AST)
[email protected]szvan @pzmyers can’t often control Pharyngulites, attempts to reign in “geek army” backfires. @masalaskeptic has “the Kraken”#scio11 Sun Jan 16 2011 11:58:33 (AST)
[email protected]masalaskeptic tries very hard to respect commenters, but it’s hard, will always alienate someone. @teh_skeptic has no snark rule #scio11 Sun Jan 16 2011 11:59:51 (AST)
aud: snark can be used to take someone down a peg when necessary, but it can be abuse of power relationship #scio11 Sun Jan 16 2011 12:02:03 (AST)
[email protected]szvan might be more reasonable to make a private comment first, then if rebuffed, call down the geek army in public #scio11 Sun Jan 16 2011 12:03:28 (AST)
[email protected]noisyastronomer Snark has to be done well, otherwise you just come off as an asshole #scio11 @masalaskeptic “You’re secretly Canadian!”Sun Jan 16 2011 12:05:10 (AST)
[email protected]szvan is secretly “The Kraken”, doesn’t comment on Skepchick because of it 😀 #scio11 Sun Jan 16 2011 12:05:48 (AST)
aud: “As far as geeks and snark, I’d say SPEAK FOR YOURSELF.” [laughter] #scio11 Sun Jan 16 2011 12:07:44 (AST)
[email protected]masalaskeptic “14 writers on staff, want it to be fun and easy to get into, but don’t start second-guessing and cripple yourself”#scio11 about 24 hours ago
[email protected]teh_skeptic was called Marxist due to a Science and Gender show. Never going to please everyone. Be warm/enthusiastic#scio11 about 24 hours ago
[email protected]teh_skeptic every time I do psychology subject, everyone emails saying it’s subjective and worthless to discuss #scio11 about 24 hours ago
[email protected]heidihosc tried to run SheThought without swearing, snark, etc., commenters felt overwhelmed by snarky comments #scio11 about 24 hours ago
[email protected]teh_skeptic “I may be the only person who’s nicer on the internet than in real life” #scio11 about 24 hours ago
[email protected]teh_skeptic “What kind of geek will you be in next 5 yrs?” aud: “still love science, internet, won’t change – only career path”#scio11 about 24 hours ago
young aud: “I don’t consider myself a geek… just smarter than everyone in my class” #scio11 about 24 hours ago

(Note: the last tweet should read “just smarter than other people”. Made all the more awesome because the speaker was maybe 14.)

My compiled live-tweeting of #scio11 sessions
The Bolingbrook Babbler:  The unbelievable truth is now at

4 thoughts on “My compiled live-tweeting of #scio11 sessions

  1. 1

    I hope you enjoy your time here, Jason, but it looks like another opportunity to meet up is passing us by. Looks like I may just need to try to make it to your neck of Canada.

  2. 3

    Sheesh yourself, Karen. 🙂

    We’re here until Sunday morning, Mike, but yeah, it’s pretty much booked up from now til then. I’ll try to drop you an email if any get-togethers happen that you can try to get in on — and I know there’s at least one happening Saturday.

    And if you were to swing out to Nova Scotia, well, I’m not sure there’s much to do there BUT visit with us, but you’re welcome to do so!

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