ASC partner with BIG science communication summit

Thanks to Claire Harris for her run-down of the ASC/BIG science blogosphere team.

There is no doubt that the BIG Science Communication Summit provided a memorable experience for those that attended. And… for those who watched from afar via the EASELivestream and on social media (for example, using the hashtag #bigsci13 on Twitter).

ASC was proud to be a community partner with the Inspiring Australia, TechNyou and ScienceRewired teams and to be part of delivering the vision for the BIG Science Communication Summit. The event aimed to deliver an opportunity for science communicators to collaboratively discuss the challenges they face individually and collectively, and to develop solutions through engaging both before and during the event.

ScienceRewired provided an opportunity for six ASC members to have berths on the social media team – to drive discussion and debate – and to attend the event.

The ASC Live Bloggers were:

  • Amelia Swan (@SwanAmelia)
  • Victoria Leitch (@craniophiles)
  • Melissa Lyne (@malyne)
  • Kali Madden (@ASCkali)
  • Sarah Lau (@LaLaLausy)
  • Sam Askin (@samaskin). Sam actually contributed from his office in Townsville. Kali said: We were all amazed that he could be so ‘in the moment’ and we thought he must have been sitting in the gallery with the rest of the team!

The super team of live bloggers (ok, yes I was one of them but hell, I’m going with super!) were encouraged to explore topics of interest and contribute Tweets, blogs, photo galleries. The ASC live bloggers also played an important part in reporting the happenings at the event, particularly the workshops, as they weren’t being live-streamed.

Kylie Sturgess, the Social Media Coordinator for ScienceRewired led us through the, at times for me slightly confusing, social media playground set up for the event. (I for one had some experience in Twitter, Facebook and blogs but Storify, live streaming… not so much.)

Kylie Sturgess actively podcasted, networked and blogged/Tweeted/photographed the event along with the team. She gathered some great stories on Storify.

I think I can speak on behalf of the team to say that Kylie was a bundle of fun and a font of knowledge on social media.

Apparently #bigsci13 trended on Twitter on both days for Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney and we got feedback from attendees present and online saying they appreciated the contributions from the team.

Bloggers’ selfie: Claire Harris (left), Vanessa Hill (middle), Victoria Leitch (top), Kylie Sturgess (bottom)

Some Tweets:

@sciencerewired: Missed a session from yesterday? Didn’t see it livestreamed? Thanks to our Social Media Team, catch up at: … #BigSci13 This Tweet was Retweeted 14 times.

@DoUBelieveInDog: @sciencerewired Can confirm you are coming through loud and clear and amazeballs on the live stream #bigsci13  🙂 (Just need more #dogs!)

@nessyhill: Mwahhahaha RT @chachiconnell: So there’s bloggers hidden in the gallery #bigsci13 I’m getting flashbacks of the #redwedding #GoT

See some of the live bloggers’ contributions on one of the Storifys.

Check out some of the blog posts written by the team:

Thanks for a great experience and all your hard work ASC crew, Kylie and indeed all involved in the event.

Bloggers’ selfie: Will Grant (left), Sarah Lau (middle), Amelia Swan (left)

SocMed Stars

Thanks to Kristin Alford from Bridge 8 for contributing this article:

The ability to synthesise complex information and articulate it in a clear and concise way is a skill. When that is done well within a strict word limit under tight deadlines, it’s something to celebrate.
Kylie Sturgess (@kyliesturgess <> ), Dr Krystal Evans (@dr_krystal <> ) and Dr Sarah Keenihan (@sciencesarah <> ) are worth celebrating.

Over the course of the Australian Science Communicators Conference in 2012 <>  they made sense of the content in short sharp bursts using a range of social media platforms. Kylie live-blogged many of the sessions and has several podcasts, Krystal live-tweeted almost everything and Sarah both live-tweeted and provided Storify summaries.

If you were at the conference and drew on the back channel to see what others were thinking or to catch up on parallel sessions you couldn’t get to, you would have appreciated their contributions. If you weren’t at the conference, their commentaries and summaries made it possible to follow along. This was certainly the case for Ed Brown (@reallyedbrown <> ) who interviewed all three in his ‘Science on Top’ podcast <>  (this link includes all Kylie’s blogs, other links and Ed’s own Storify summaries of Day 2 and 3).

As producer of the social media session <> , I was certainly interested to see what the back channel had discussed during the session, so seeing Kylie’s blog <>  and Sarah’s Storify <>  was immensely useful, and both made it easier to share the content with others later. Mentioning this later on Twitter also brought endorsement that the contribution was worth recognising.

Congratulations and thank you Kylie, Krystal and Sarah. A specially-designed certificate from James Hutson is on its way.

(Also published at

Dr Kristin Alford
Futurist & Founding Director
Bridge8 Pty Ltd

Social Media’s growing interest in Science: Aust. science followers top half a million

We all know how important social media is for any communications today. But what about science communications? It seems that social media interest in science is an exciting and growing area which all science communicators can tap into.

Also don’t forget to follow ASC (@auscicomm) on TWITTER!

[Press Release from Science Alert]:

Aust. science followers top half a million

Science from Australia and New Zealand has attracted half a million followers on the global internet phenomenon Facebook.

Australasian science news reported on this month topped 500,000 Facebook fans worldwide for the first time.

“We’re finding there is a wonderful appetite among young people worldwide to learn more about Australian and NZ science via Facebook,” says ScienceAlert managing director Chris Cassella. “From a short item on Facebook, they can click right through to the full story on ScienceAlert, or to the university or science institution where it originated.

“Science Minister Kim Carr has encouraged us all to ‘inspire Australia’. Well, thanks to Facebook we’re inspiring the world, as well Australia, with what our science is achieving, and with the science courses and jobs it offers.”

Mr Cassella said that Facebook itself now had 800 million users – and is growing rapidly worldwide, especially in Asia, Africa and Latin America. “It’s clearly the coming thing in communication, replacing traditional media and even websites as the place where people get their information and share new ideas.

“For half of the 18-34 year old users, Facebook is the first thing they check when they wake up in the morning. Half of them do it on their smartphones, before even getting out of bed.”

In another milestone, ScienceAlert’s following has overtaken the Australian Open Tennis Tournament in popularity among Australian Facebook sites. “That was pretty remarkable, considering the huge boost which Australian tennis gained from Sam Stosur’s win at the US Open,” Mr Cassella says.

“On Facebook at least, Australasian science now ranks ahead of the tennis, rugby league, Cricket Australia, our World Cup soccer bid and popular rock ‘n roll station Triple J.

“You can see the rankings on”

“In our view, this underlines the remarkable power of social media to increase awareness of Australasian science and technology – and to expand the global reach of our university courses and research positions.”

He added “In another remarkable development Sciencealert is presently ranked 14th in the world among news sites, in terms of its Facebook following.

“This means Australasian science has more followers on Facebook than news icons like The Wall St Journal, TIME magazine, The UK Financial Times, The Washington Post, and the popular online newspaper the Huffington Post.”

“It’s not just about how many fans you have, though. Each of these fans has hundreds of friends, who in turn have hundreds of friends, and information disseminates exponentially among them. This is what makes social media different from all other kinds – the information tree keeps growing more branches and twigs.”

ScienceAlert founder Julian Cribb said it was very pleasing to find such a large and enthusiastic audience for Australian and NZ science via Facebook. “When I started ScienceAlert, the aim was to share the good news about our research achievements freely with a wider audience. That was achieved through the website, but social media have added an entirely new dimension.

“The fact that Australasian science now attracts a larger audience among this segment of young people internationally than any other science publication in the world holds considerable promise for the future, if we can keep it up. The next generation will grow up with a keener awareness of Australasian science and what it has to offer the world.”

More information:

Chris Cassella, Managing Director, ScienceAlert, 02 6100 4307
Julian Cribb, founder, ScienceAlert, 0418 639 254.
Facebook Page:

News and opinions:
Advertising inquiries:

Science communication and social media now a national conversation

Last month ASC members were offered a 10% discount on the entry fee to a niche event on science communication in social media. Many of the speakers on the program were ASC members from around the nation. In conjunction with Media140, the ASC made several student scholarships possible for local science communication students at the University of Queensland.

The Science Communication Program Convenor at the University of Queensland Dr Joan Leach had this to say about the event:

“Media140 catalysed a number of conversations that are going on nationally.  There is great research and engagement work going on at Australian Universities on the power and perils of digital media.  Being able to apply this research in the context of science communication—and talk to colleagues and people making great strides in using and understanding these technologies was super-stimulating.  And, the conference practiced what it preached with a fabulously talented contingent of journalism and science communication students from UQ blogging, tweeting, and networking their way through the event!   ASC supported science communication students from UQ who engaged with colleagues in China during the event and have used their insights into digital media to inform their upcoming citizen science event in Brisbane.  This was a rare event where research, practice, and discussion of pedagogy was all possible and relevant.”

You can find out more about tertiary qualifications in Science Communication in Australia here.

ASC readers who couldn’t make the event this time can look forward to several articles from attending students soon. Initial feedback on the experience follows.

“The Media 140 event was so inspiring for me as a newbie. It really enlightened me on using new media as a channel to transmit the scientific information.”Basil Liu [Basil blogs in both Chinese and English, see his related event posting here, or on facebook here.]

“I thought the media140 event was an excellent opportunity to find out about the variety of applications new media can offer in science communication. In particular I was impressed by the enthusiasm attendees showed at the potential these forms of media hold in communicating their message.”Sally Grosvenor

“Funnily enough, overall I think the best thing that I got out of the day was just the exposure to that environment – as a student you rarely get the opportunity to attend conferences, and see how working professionals and academics work and think. It gave me a bit of a taste of the ‘real world’, listening to everyone talk about their work. It definitely makes me happy and excited to be entering into this field.”Emily Christoffels

“Media140 was an absolute blast. I don’t think I’ve ever had so many interesting, new thoughts or ideas to agree with in one day before.”
Nicholas Aslin

Bilingual French online networking for science communicators

Knowtex ( is a science/technology social networking website, written mainly in French with some English articles which may be of interest to ASC members.  It seems to be run by a commercial agency, Umaps, but it’s fun to see ‘Poincaré conjecture’ in a tag cloud.

(With thanks to Professor Justin Dillon from King’s College London and ESERA for his original posting on PSCI-COM.)

Evidence-based science communication workshop, 10 June 2009

Getting the Message Across

ASC NSW event, 10 June, 2009

By Shannon Fong, ASC NSW event reporter

Carol Oliver enjoying a finely made point during the workshop discussion

Carol Oliver enjoying a finely made point during the workshop discussion

How effective is science education within Australia? Dr Carol Oliver, from the Australian Centre for Astrobiology, said this will be an open question until adequate research is done into the subject. Carol emphasised the importance of understanding one’s audience in communicating knowledge effectively yet highlighted the lack of evidence that audiences are taking away the intended messages.

“How is it that the Australian Government can spend millions of dollars on science education when they do not even know what the outcome is?” she said. Longitudinal studies have demonstrated that by the time children get to high school, much of the scientific information that they have learnt in their primary years has since been forgotten.

In Australian universities, a substantial proportion of science students did not do science in Years 11 and 12. It appears that many are opting to get into university with a low UAI by choosing a science degree, and this could be lowering the quality of science students. With the Australian adult scientific literacy rate being approximately 15% (figure derived from a pilot study by Dr Oliver), our democracy is facing less informed decision making for an increasing number of science related issues. Perhaps a key to developing a more scientifically informed electorate is for science educators to make far greater use of changing modes of communication.

In America, more than half of the audience in search of scientific information look towards the Internet. In Australia, 92% of the population use Google as their search engine, and as of December, 2008, one fifth of Australians over 18 used Facebook. “This certainly says something about where to aim information, as well as where to gain feedback from the audience on the impact of such information,” Dr Oliver said.

Question time during the workshop

Question time during the workshop

However, numerous questions remain. To encourage general public interest in science is it more effective to promote information from science experts or provide access to a less expert but more populist knowledge source? And should scientific information be aimed at all of the population or only those who are interested? If the Australian Government undertook research into the effectiveness of scientific education, then maybe we would know.

ASC National Conference 2009

22 November 2009to25 November 2009

Dear ASCers,

Want to come to grips with social networking  technology and learn how it will change your working life as a communicator?

Then come to the ASC National Conference to be held in Canberra from Sunday evening, 22 November till Wednesday 25 November 2009 where social networking will be a major overall theme. And you will be encouraged to jump in and get involved right at the start. As part of your registration, you will gain access to an on-line forum, to begin a discussion of the issues before the conference—and keep the ball rolling long after the conference is over.

But that’s not the only attraction. The conference will also include a one-day symposium entitled Hot Air: Communicating the science of climate change with the general public, as well as papers on the latest research in the field of science communication, plus material on the place of the arts in communicating science.

Of course, the main attraction will be meeting and talking with other communicators, and there will be plenty of opportunity to do so during the conference proper and at the associated social events.

Put the dates in your diary, and we’ll provide details of costs (less than $500 for ASC members), and a more detailed program soon.

Keep checking the ASC website  and the mailing lists for the latest information.


Tim Thwaites
National President

Social media tools from Web 2.0 in museums conference

List of useful social media tools referenced during the conference, 5 & 6 March 2009.  This was organised by Museums Australia (Victoria) and Swinburne University in partnership with Melbourne Museum.  Attendees from SA, NSW, TAS, QLD, VIC and Europe participated in masterclasses and conference sessions exploring the uses of web 2.0 tools in museums and their websites.

Google Analytics


Compete (US websites only)


– statistics on your website and how users interact with it

ClickDensity – heat maps of what users look at on your website

Google Trends – realtime search of ‘trends’ (i.e. keywords) referenced online

DomainTools – domain registration/look-up portal

FeedBurner – tool to manage and track multiple blogs

Flickr – online photo sharing site

StumbleUpon – sharing tool to recommend websites or particular pages to others (similar to Digg, Reddit, etc.)

Reddit – sharing tool (as above)

HowSociable? – tool to measure brand visibility in social media, i.e. how often your organisation is referenced in  Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, Technorati, etc.

Twitter – similar to sending and receiving mass text messages.  Easier to show than tell.

WorldInternetProject – analysis and comment on global internet trends

NING/Museums 3.0 – blog ring for museums

1stfans @ Brooklyn Museum – online membership of Twitterers and bloggers with an interest in the Brooklyn Museum

Social media links from 5 Feb event, Melbourne

As a quick follow-up to last night’s Vic event on Web 2.0, science communicators and museums, I’ve put together a quick list of some of the social media/news references made during the discussion:

Transformations in Scientific & Cultural Communication conference details:

The 2008 version of the Transformations… event

Angelina Russo & Jerry Watkins’ home pages at Swinburne

Niall Byrne’s details

Museums Australia (Victoria)


Colossal squid defrosted

Giant squid dissection

CSIRO Publishing

Einstein A Go Go

Melbourne Writers Festival

Eureka Prizes

Flickr groups


British wildlife surveys (public engagement)

An unsuccessful albatross tracking project (NB: not the one Niall referred to)

ICOM definition of a Museum


‘Peter Mac’ (Peter MacCullum Cancer Centre)