Graduate student and astronomy writer

Archive for June, 2015

Live-blogging afterthoughts

So, after a few weeks of respite from the marathon blogging session at the Emerging Researchers in Exoplanet Science Symposium hosted at PSU, I thought I would share some thoughts about my experience live-blogging and the comments that I got back about how the live-blogging went for me.

First off, I personally found the experience to be a lot of fun (a little bit of stress), but overall very rewarding for me for a number of reasons. For one, it was great practice at writing science concisely and with purpose, summarizing another scientist’s work, and interpreting it through the lens of a non-expert. This was a good exercise for me since I want to eventually find a career in science journalism. Secondly, it was a good way to make sure that I was paying attention to the conference, to actively listen to the presentations and to internalize the presentations. I certainly learned a lot more and paid attention a lot more than I have at other conferences, simply because it was my job to to do. But now, I think that I’d do something similar even it wasn’t my job because it’s so helpful. Thirdly, it was great to help out the conference participants and the people that weren’t able to participate, to talk to new people about the blog, and get the symposium more recognition on the cyber-waves. So, for those reasons, live-blogging the conference was a very rewarding experience for these and other reasons.

However, when I do this again, I might do some things differently. For ERES, I wrote a three-paragraph minimum for each of the 10 minute science talks given by participants, and following the Q&A of the panels and other featured talks. This was a lot of work. The blog for ERES was formatted more like conference proceedings than a blog, which I (and other OC members) felt was appropriate for this type of conference. Since the blog was coupled with a Twitter feed, the Twitter feed was set up more as the “thoughts and comments and clever paraphrases” format (thanks Natasha Batalha!), and the blog was set up to be more a scientific summary. When I do this again in the future, it is likely that I won’t have an accompanying Twitter feed, so I would probably do less summary and more paraphrasing, thoughts, and comments.

Also, typing that much in such a short time gave me hand cramps! It was hard work, and I might do it differently next time. But it was a really rewarding experience. If you have a proclivity for writing, or are trying to find a way to retain more information at a conference, I suggest live-blogging. It’s just like taking notes, but with more personality, and can be tons of fun!

So…yeah. Those are my thoughts on live-blogging. Now that the live-blogging is done and I have free time again, I will be continuing with semi-regularly submitted blog-posts and other goodies in the future. Thanks for tuning in!

-Kim Cartier, aka “AstroLady”

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