So, the science blogosphere is all a-flutter about this weekend's Science Online 2010, pretty much the Woodstock of Science Blogging, or as I like to call it, Bora!-Fest 2010. And oh yes, Jen-Luc-Piquant and I will be there -- I missed last year's confab due to a slight case of launching a national outreach program. I'm thrilled at the prospect of seeing all my blogging buddies again, and making new ones. Bora! even interviewed me (and numerous others) after Science Online 2008.
This time around, I'll be co-chairing a panel -- on science, Hollywood, the changing landscape of online multimedia, and what that might mean for blogging -- with the lovely Tamara Krinsky, all-around Renaissance woman of science and entertainment. Ironically, even though Tamara and I live in the same city (Los Angeles) and have several acquaintances in common, we met through Bora!, who lives 3000 miles away. That's why he's King of the Blogosphere. Our panel, called Science and Entertainment: Beyond Blogging, will be on Saturday from 2 to 3 PM and in the words of Michael Bay, it is going to be "AWESOME!"
The official description:
Over the past several years, the Internet has tangibly changed the way that movies and TV shows are produced and marketed. Blogs will call out ridiculous scientific errors found in stories and the critique can go viral very quickly; therefore, science advising is on the rise in an attempt to add some semblance of plausibility to your favorite flicks. As tools on the web continue to evolve, filmmakers and television creators are finding new ways to connect with and market to their viewers. For some shows, this has meant tapping into the science featured in their content, ranging from an exploration of the roots of the science that has been fictionalized to the expansion of a scientific topic explored in a documentary. In this session, we’ll look at how online video and social networking tools are playing a part in connecting science, Hollywood and its fans.
But we're actually hoping not to just lecture; we want you to come and join us for what promises to be a fascinating conversation. Sure, we'll both give brief presentations as an overview of the type of online multimedia currently available -- I'm excited about what's been happening in that sphere, and the stuff Tamara has told me about what's on the horizon -- and then we will open the floor to discuss how blogging fits into this new multimedia space. As that space continues to evolve and change, how should blogging change with it? What are the untapped potentials? What new multimedia formats and partnerships might be formed between science bloggers and the entertainment industry? I don't want to see blogging being left in the dust, like print media, because it gets too entrenched in the status quo. Not that this would happen: bloggers are some of the earliest adopters out there, after all. Basically it's an excuse for me to pick everyone's brain because I tend to be a bit slow up the uptake with the latest Web-trends.
In other shameless self-promotion news, I was interviewed on yesterday's Armed With Science podcast by John Ohab of the Department of Defense. Jessica of Bioephemera introduced us, and I'm so glad, because I love what he's doing with that podcast. Joining me for the interview was none other than Eureka co-creator Jaime Paglia, who gave his own take on how his show, in particular, portrays science, scientists, and the inevitable tension between idealism and pragmatism that scientists often must grapple with (e.g., they want to make discoveries and invent things to help humanity, but those same breakthroughs can be weaponized, particularly since much of their funding comes from defense). The Eureka writers are a smart, savvy bunch -- they all take after Jaime -- and now they have their own blog, too, Eureka Unscripted, for anyone who's interested in some insider baseball.
Finally, The Damn Book is finally -- finally!! -- in production. I've been working on revisions intermittently for so long, my friends started saying, "But you were revising the manuscript a month ago, weren't you? Isn't it done yet?" It's never done. But at some point you have to let your baby go out into the world, warts and all. There's no cover, or even a Web page for the book yet, but here's a sneak peek at the catalog copy and my favorite of the many excellent illustrations Jason Torchinsky created for the book:
The Calculus Diaries: How Math Can Help You Lose Weight, Win in Vegas, and Survive a Zombie Apocalypse
Jennifer Ouellette never took math in college, mostly because she—like most people—assumed that she wouldn’t need it in real life. But then the English-major-turned-award-winning-science-writer had a change of heart and decided to revisit the equations and formulas that had haunted her for years. The Calculus Diaries is the fun and fascinating account of her year spent confronting her math phobia head on. With wit and verve, Ouellette shows how she learned to apply calculus to everything from gas mileage to diet, the rides at Disneyland to shooting craps in Vegas—proving that even the mathematically challenged can learn the fundamentals of the universal language.
Those of you who've been following the cocktail party for awhile now, know the book arose out of a series of calculus-related posts I wrote starting in 2006. Here's a sampling for those who missed them:Game Changer
The book will be much more polished; blog posts are always the first drafts, part of my "writing lab." It's fun to see how far I've come since those early days, both in my rudimentary understanding of calculus, and in my ability to write about such an abstract subject coherently. And oh yes, there will be zombies -- even an equation involving zombies in Appendix 2: Calculus of the Living Dead. Because sometimes you just have to nut up or shut up, and do some calculus before the zombies wipe out the human race.