Cheering on ScienceOnline

Sep 17, 2012

This morning at 9 a.m., the first open registration period for ScienceOnline2013 opened for a tranche of 100, and closed soon after. We’re 134 days from the start of our seventh annual conference — we’re expecting 450 attendees, three full days of discussion sessions, and plenty of hugs and handshakes.

This is an event that two guys sitting on a couch in a Carrboro coffee shop thought up as a rewarding way to gather an online community together for face-to-face conversations. I can clearly recall the night Bora Zivkovic and I talked about this, and as I’ve written here and elsewhere, said at the conference every year and shared on Twitter all the days in between, I’m all the better because of this collaboration and the friendship it affords me.

Bora is in New York City this week, doing amazing work with the blogs network at Scientific American, and tomorrow celebrating the publishing of The Open Laboratory, the annual anthology of the best of science blogging that he conceived, edits and champions. What an amazing accomplishment.

Meanwhile, there’s been a momentous change: with the leadership of Karyn Traphagen — she joined us as conference organizer for the previous two events — we have created ScienceOnline, Inc., a nonprofit organization with a mission of supporting the science connections, conversations and collaborations of the global ScienceOnline community.

Karyn is executive director, and she’s simultaneously building the organization, assisting local groups as they bootstrap monthly ScienceOnline meetups across North America, and spearheading the planning and logistics of ScienceOnline2013. If you’ve been following the #scio13 hashtag today, you’ve seen how proactive, informative, responsive and thoughtful Karyn is. ScienceOnline is in very good hands.

And, if you’ve been following the online chatter, you know that there are thousands of science-minded explorers, educators, students, librarians, bloggers and so many others who make up this community and thrive on the four Cs. It’s humbling to watch their interactions, and inspiring to see how much they respect each other.

Some days, when I’m struggling to stay afloat from too many commitments and projects and ideas that I can’t say ‘no’ to, I think back to a day in Cleveland in 1995. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame was getting its grand opening, and thousands of us were standing across from the sloping I.M. Pei building on the shore of Lake Erie. Yoko Ono came to the microphone and yelled: “Cleveland, what have you done?” I cheered loudly, because that’s what you should do when you’re in a crowd that has much to celebrate.

So, to my friends Bora and Karyn, the other leaders and volunteers who have partnered with us through the years, and all those who joined along the way and swelled this crowd, I say loudly: ScienceOnline, what have you done?

cheering wildly

Anton Zuiker

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