July 26, 2010

Please Sir, I want some more Science!

Science Online London 2010 (soloconf)Science Online London (#solo10 September 3-4, 2010) is an annual gathering of people interested in the use of web technologies for scientific collaboration and communication.  The organisers at Mendeley, Nature Network and The British Library continue to do a great job of hosting this important gathering, now in its third year:

I’ve been the last two years (2008 and 2009), and it has been worth attending because of the mix speakers, delegates and topics covered. This year includes talks from:

See the impressive full programme here. Reading through the speaker list I wondered, where are all the scientists at science online this year? At the time of writing this, 12 of the 13 speakers are politicians, publishers or journalists with scientist Peter Murray-Rust the odd man out. I’ve nothing against politicians, publishers or journalists but it would be great to have a more balanced event this year. The UK is full of high-profile scientists with blogs who would probably jump at the opportunity to speak at this event. So:

Or as the skeptical Sid Rodrigues said “this looks like fun, needs more nerds though“…

August 24, 2009

I bet you think this blog is about you, don’t you?

Science Online London 2009Last Saturday, The Royal Institution of Great Britain (R.I.) hosted a conference called Science Online London (#solo09) co-organised by mendeley.com and network.nature.com. The event centred around the fantastic Faraday Theatre which according to the R.I. is a “beautiful, historic theatre [which] has deeply raked seating that creates an intimate atmosphere, even when full to capacity”. Absolutely. Just like last year, this event attracted delegates and speakers from a wide range of backgrounds in science, publishing and communication from around the world. This post is an approximately alphabetically ordered link-fest of some of the people involved. People are, after all, the most interesting thing about any conference. If you’re not listed here it’s not because I don’t like you (honest!) it’s because we didn’t speak or I didn’t listen or (unlike many people) you’re not vain enough [1] to have a have a blog (yet) 🙂

Now I’m told the presentations mentioned above will be on Nature Precedings in due course, which will be good. Thanks to all the organisers, speakers and participants this year that made Science Online London 2009 well worth attending. Hopefully see some more of you again next year!


  1. Carly Simon (1972) You’re So Vain
  2. Geoffrey Bilder (2006). In Google We Trust? Journal of Electronic Publishing, 9 (1) DOI: 10.3998/3336451.0009.101
  3. Matt Brown (2008). Venerable institute gets a refit Nature, 453 (7195), 568-569 DOI: 10.1038/453568a
  4. Matt Brown (2008). Reimagining the Royal Institution Nature, 453 (7195), 595-595 DOI: 10.1038/453595a
  5. Duncan Hull (2009). Slides from the author identity session: Authenticating Scientists with OpenID
  6. Jennifer Rohn and Richard P. Grant (2009). Pre-conference video: Live Roof Surfing at Mendeley Fringe Frivolous

June 2, 2009

Blogging For Profit: Costs and Benefits

Business Graph by nDevilTV
The organisers of the Science Online London 2009 conference are asking people to propose their own session ideas (see some examples here), so here is proposal:

Title: Blogging For Profit: Costs and Benefits

What are the costs and benefits of blogging and how can you make sure the latter justifies the former?

This (proposed) session will look at two kinds of profit, and the costs associated with each.

  1. Research profit (in science and academia), building digital reputations on the Web. Can blogging help your next grant proposal for research funding and if so, how? How can blogging be used to increase the visibility and impact of published research via the likes of ResearchBlogging.org, blogs.nature.com and other aggregators?
  2. Financial profit (in business), making blogging pay the bills. What business models (and infrastructure) exist to support blogging? Including, but not limited to: Nature Network, ScienceBlogs, Google AdSense, “20% time“, “free” tools (WordPress, Blogger, OpenWetWare etc). Going solo vs. joining a club – which business models and tools are right for you?

This could be followed by a general discussion on these benefits. When do they justify their costs (and risks) and make for profitable blogging?

If this is a successful proposal, I’ll need some help. Any offers? If you are interested in joining in the fun, details are at scienceonlinelondon.org

[CC-licensed Business Graph picture by nDevilTV]

September 29, 2008

BBSRC UK Roadshow, Autumn 2008

bend in the roadThe Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) is on the road this autumn in London, Manchester, Bristol, Glasgow and Cambridge. Potential applicants, grant holders and any other interested parties are strongly urged to attend and learn about BBSRC’s plans for the future including new procedures and new Committee structures. The road shows will also provide an opportunity to meet the new members of the BBSRC Senior Management team.

From an original email sent by Alf Game, Deputy Director of Science and Technology Group. See BBSRC Roadshows.

The BBSRC has revised its future strategic priorities and the way in which they will be delivered through responsive mode peer review and is holding a series of road shows “Enabling the Delivery of Excellence with Impact” at various locations across the UK. (more…)

September 4, 2008

Famous for fifteen people

Marilyn Monroe by Andy Warhol (and oddsock)The artist Andy Warhol once said:

“In the future everybody will be world famous for fifteen minutes”.

This well worn saying has been quoted and misquoted in hundreds of different ways in the forty years since Warhol first coined it [1].

Bad Scientist Ben Goldacre, in his keynote speech* at Science Blogging (sciblog) 2008, highlighted one of these deliberate misquotes, which he attributed to NTK.net (Need To Know: Britain’s most sarcastic high-tech weekly newsletter). It goes a little something like this:

“On the internet everybody can be world famous for fifteen people“.

This wonderful expression captures the nature and scale of science blogging on the internet today in a nutshell. Personally, I think it also sums up much of the spirit of the Science Blogging 2008 conference as well. In total, around eight groups of fifteen people, attended the conference. It was physically impossible to talk to all of them in one day, especially since I had to slink off early at 7pm, but I did manage to meet the following people: (more…)

August 27, 2008

Science blogging at the Royal Institution, London

Filed under: web of science — Duncan Hull @ 8:02 am
Tags: , , , , , ,

sciblogNature Publishing Group are organising a workshop on science blogging, this Saturday 30th August 2008 at the Royal Institution of Great Britain in London. Why would you care? Because there are:

  1. Lots of interesting people
  2. talking about a range of interesting subjects
  3. .. in a distinguished venue that has recently been refurbished. It is also home to the fantastic Christmas lectures and much more besides.

To cap it all, I think it will be great fun too. So if you’re going, see you there. If you’re not, it is never too late to publish your fantasy science funding entry. Much of the conference will be televised and blogged, making it available online too.

December 21, 2007

Blogging: Speakers’ Corner of the Internet

There is a famous place in London town, inside Hyde Park, known as Speakers’ Corner. It is a space where free speech and self-expression prevail. At Speakers’ Corner, anyone can say anything they like about anything they want to anyone who cares to listen. There are some obvious parallels between blogging and Speakers’ Corner as well as one rather striking difference.

If you’ve ever been there, you’ll know Speakers’ Corner is full of circus acts. A quick wander around and you are almost guaranteed to encounter: conspiracy theorists, anarchists, bible salesmen, drunks, religious fundamentalists, pimps, tramps, radicals, punks, politicians, self-promoting exhibitionists, drug addicts, prophets and philosophers. Curiously you don’t often see professional scientists there. Some speakers will talk sense, others will talk nonsense. Either way, a stroll around Speakers’ Corner never fails to entertain, Sunday morning is usually best. Your personal beliefs will probably be challenged and you will almost certainly find someone to strongly dis/agree with. The digital equivalent of Speakers’ Corner is the blogosphere, the bloggers’ corner of the Internet.

Bloggers’ Corner?

There are some obvious similarities between Speakers’ Corner and Bloggers’ Corner. They both involve free speech, entertainment and cheap technology:

Zero cost free speech

At Speakers’ Corner you need is something to stand on, a soapbox or stepladder, anything will do. Speakers also need time, an opinion and plenty of air in their lungs. This is “free” speech in two ways. Firstly, it doesn’t cost anything, so you don’t need money or powerful friends to be a speaker. Secondly, speakers are free to discuss anything they want. The same is true of blogging, all you need is some kind of blogging software and off you go. The hecklers will post their comments if they choose.

Shout, shout, let it all out!
At Speakers’ Corner anyone is free to shout. Speakers, like bloggers, have to entertain, and shout loud, to build an audience and get their voice heard, whichever corner they find themselves in. No sh*t Sherlock!

Not about technology

Speakers’ Corner is not about technology, and neither is blogging. The digital technology that makes blogging possible (news feeds, software, servers etc) is no more interesting than their analogue counterparts: soapboxes and stepladders. Yes, digital soapbox technology is cheap and readily available but to my mind, blogging is not about technology. Well, duh!

One striking difference

As well as all these similarities, there is one striking difference between Speakers’ Corner and the Blogosphere. When you have had enough of the speakers ranting and raving, you can walk away, returning to the relative peace of Hyde Park.

However, on the Internet, bloggers are everywhere not just in the corner of the Internet park. This is partly due to the fact that there are lots more of them, more than 70 million bloggers on the internet by some counts. Consequently, the collective noise bloggers make can be deafening, but it is the unmistakable sound of free speech all over the Internet.


Since this is my last post for 2007, happy holidays to all readers at nodalpoint. If you’ve read any of my posts here thanks for reading, you’ve been a wonderful audience and thanks again Greg for running the nodalpoint server. While I’m packing up my digital soapbox for the year, may I wish your speech in 2008, wether digital or verbal, to be of the free variety wherever possible. And, if you’ve ever seen a professional scientist talk at Speakers’ Corner, I’d love to hear about it.

[Speakers’ Corner Pictures above by Jim Callender and Cory Doctorow, part of the excellent pictures of Speakrs’ Cornr on Flickr].

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