A few weeks ago, @maricarjagger and I were discussing ideas for Cafe Scientifique. I can’t quite remember what triggered it, but I suggested that something about perceptions and reality of social networking could be interesting. I ended up volunteering myself and @timpaa. At the time, I was thinking about both those who’ve shared things – and are surprised when others find it (though a recent Pew report suggests that teens are increasingly aware of who should see what and how to control it) – and those (Daily Mail influenced?) who think that Twitter / Facebook are full of people who do nothing but eat breakfast and get drunk.
It’s likely to be a mixed audience – people who live in Portsmouth, are interested in science, and enjoy a glass of wine in Cafe Parisien. Other than that, not much in common!

It struck me that I could use a lot from the New Wine, Old Bottles symposium yesterday. Of course, there, they had certain expectations about the audience, so, GeoTagging, Publicly Private / Privately Public & Farmville were all known to us. (Even if this time last week, I’d not got a FourSquare a/c, thought Stig lived in a dump – and still associate farms with shovelling shit!)

We’re not going to know the levels of knowledge of the audience (not a bad thing when introducing something new). We’re going to have to speak for 20 minutes (good: not too long to get bored in); then a glass of wine (sounding better and better) – before 20 more minutes and some q/a time.
But, the big challenge. There’s no projection – it’s all speaking; props can be used (I’ve seen all sorts of things handed round, from wood chewed by algae to photos from the electron microscope). So, my challenge is how do we convey the concepts of social networking to those who may have limited knowledge.
I’ve used Paper blogging in the past to introduce blogging to students (though we’ve generally had more time); Timothy has tried extending that to twitter by using small postits so they can’t write to much. I’m wondering if we could use large paper (maybe with 140 boxes on them) & marker pens to create a twitter wall as we go (and that could bring in issues of ethics & backchannels … especially if we have a few plants)
Maybe we could do a bit of a role play, though I shall ensure Timothy’s got a more interactive role than being dead!

5 thoughts on “An ethical challenge?

  1. You might be able to explain microblogging with post-its – ask the audience to write what they’re thinking while you’re talking (maybe limit number of words rather than characters!). You could maybe – bit tenuous perhaps – stick smaller coloured postits (the ones that people use to mark pages in books for example) onto the written ones to represent ‘tagging’?

  2. I like the idea of the coloured ones for tagging; and I like the idea of getting them to write while I’m talking; I’m not so sure about postits, for the simple reason I’d like lots of people to be able to see them. (We’ve used them in the past & they’ve worked; but people were wandering around more)
    However, Nicola Whitton & co’s session at ALT-C ( http://altc2010.alt.ac.uk/talks/15064 ) gave me some ideas – they had A4 sheets with 140 nice big boxes on them – so that could work.

    Given that the main aim is going to be the ethics etc., I don’t want to spend too much on the activity.

  3. I’ve participated in Timothy’s paper twitter experiment before and depending on date would be interested.

  4. Thanks, Linda.
    I think that Maricar was talking about March; are you on the cafe sci mailing list?
    It’s not just going to be the paper tweeting … that was just an idea as an intro for those who aren’t familiar – but thought that it could also cover aspects of ethics of backchannels (esp. if we can get people like you to do a bit of ‘tweckling’!)

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