Sun Nov 10, 2013
I managed to squeeze in a few hours on Friday attending the spoton conference in London. I’ve been at each one since 2008, and have had the good fortune to present something at most of them. This time I had been asked to sit in on a panel to talk about elife’s policy around media relations, but as I was flying in that morning from an editorial board meeting held in Washington it was not clear to me that I would make it in time, so the fantastic @sciencescoops (Jennifer Mitchell) represented for eLife in my place.
There was a strong tail wind that brought us early to Heathrow, and I managed to make it to the conference in time to catch the end of Salvatore Miele’s keynote.
As with last year, I was time-sharing the conference with my wife, so I only attended on the Friday. I heard that Saturday was as least as good as the day before, all in all a great two day meeting.
I had quite a few highlights during the day. the data and literature session was fascinating - I’ll write up about that later this week.
It was great catching up with some folk from PLOS, and there were a couple of good hallway conversations about the state of software to support an open publishing infrastructure.
I had a good chat with the founder of colwiz, whom I’d not had the pleasure of meeting before.
The session on starting a revolution was phenomenal, I we’ll remember Stephen Curry back in his pre blogging days of 2008, back when events were being co-hosted on second life, and google wave was about to be the new new.
By far my favourite aspect of the day was seeing all of the unfamiliar faces. I’m an old hand at the conference and perhaps three years ago it might have started to begin to seem a bit cliquey. I didn’t know most of the people there this year, and that was fantastic. It tells me that those of us who got into this space early were on the right track, and even though the questions and problems we are tackling are so much bigger than any one of us, there are a growing mass of people ready to engage with those issues.
It will take a community, and it will take an ongoing shift in practice amongst all of science, the solutions to dozens of collective action problems dependant on is flipping behaviour.
In spite of that there are some individuals who have moved the needle through individual effort and on that note I want to mention my friend Lou Woodley. Lou announced her upcoming departure from Nature. I had the great pleasure of working closely with her there from around 2008 - 2010. I’m sure she will join the long list of people who are doing amazing things now, but who also used to work at Nature at some point in the past. I have one very specific wish for her in relation to spoton 2014, and future such events. I dearly hope that she can attend just as a participant and panelist, rather than as organiser. There are very few people out there with the depth of experience which bridges the physical and the digital, the academy and the polis, the corporate and the community, as she has, and it would be fantastic to sit in on a session to hear her thoughts on the present and future of science communication.