Fading Walls: Communication, Conferences, and Sharing Science

The ongoing controversy regarding conference attendees tweeting conference related information continues causing us to ponder that if the purpose of scientific conferences is to share information, what better way to disseminate findings, ideas, hypotheses, etc., than via the most immediate and far-reaching method than Twitter? Or perhaps, the information is not ready for worldwide reception, but if that’s the case then should it be presented at all?

Lyman Entomological Museum

The front walls of the convention center are mostly glass, but you’ll need your name badge to get beyond the lobby.

I was at the 100th annual conference of the Ecological Society of America in Baltimore last week. I saw some great science, I reconnected with some friends, and I spent some time thinking about communication in science. This post is about that last part.

Much has changed in the 30 years since I went to my first science conference. Although there’s still a big component of “scientists in dimly-lit rooms talking at other scientists” at many traditional scientific conferences, the walls are coming down (or at least getting transparent) in some ways, and that’s a really good thing. As I spend more time engaging with other scientists and non-scientists through various and assorted forms of social media, I can’t help noticing changes in the way we communicate science and…

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