PLACES: Social Media and Science Communications – What science communicators think of social media

Social reporter training from Podnosh - the social media game

Over the last 2 days the Podnosh team hosted 24 science communicators from across Europe. They were in Birmingham as part of the Open Places project which is looking at bringing together 69 science communication institutions and other stakeholders in European cities to partner with local policy makers to tackle socio-economic issues such as employment; education; climate change and poverty from a scientific perspective.We met with them to discuss social media and the ways in which it can be useful to them in their workplaces or on this and other specific projects.

We looked at different platforms such as blogs, Youtube, Twitter and Facebook. Gave presentations on networking, sharing and listening and had brilliant guest speakers Shane McCraken of Gallomanor talking about the Science is Vital campaign and Jon Bounds who talked about internet culture and memes –  or as one attendee put it – Why cats are hilarious….

It was a lot to digest in 2 days but everyone seemed really enthused by what they had learned so in the final session we asked them to take a few minutes and write about what they felt they would take away with them from the sessions – what had really stood out for them;

Andrea Carlini of  Associazione Festival della Scienza said she has stopped seeing social media as a broadcast tool and now sees it as a way to connect and Jacqueline Homan of Birmingham City Council says we have unleashed her inner blogger and has contributed to conversations and will be contributing to other blogs in ways she’s never considered before.

Abi Bryan of the Science Learning Centre West Midlands realised social media shouldn’t be a one way flow of information and conversations builds up networks and trust, while Lynsey Fairweather from Birmingham Thinktank realised she’d like to create more audio and video content, comment and share more.

Claire Hopkins from Aston University really took on board Nicks talk on social capital noting  “Not everything we put out into the world of social media needs to be heavyweight stuff. Just engaging with people – on anything – is important as it opens a conversation and starts to build trust within networks.” , as did Karen Gemal a project manager from th Danish Sciene Communication she quoted Nick saying “The loop of generosity generates social capital” and that her first steps will be to “get in the habit of following bloggers and tweets, rss-feeds and get familiar with the universe.”

Alessia Dino, Project Officer with the Associenza Onlus is now much more interested in social media as whole – realising her perceptions of the platforms and their usefulness were wrong before these past 2 days.

Emma Wadland of Ecsite  said she really enjoyed Jon’s session and blogged  “If you create something interesting enough, someone will take the time to spread it within their networks” while Nisa Vidan commented that this was one of the nest workshops she’s ever been to and wants to start experimenting with Soundcloud and Audioboo.

Rebecca Harding said we had reinvigorated her interest in social reporting and also she should “not to get bogged down with information, but instead save it and share it, this with the help of useful tools such as and” and Patrick Willcocks of Birmingham City Council realised (among other things) that he needs to upgrade his smartphone!

And finally Pamela Waddell of Birmingham Science City has asked for comments on her post about some of her thoughts on the use of social media in her organisation.

You can find links to all the sites that were set up by attendees along with other posts and sites we discussed in our delicious stack  videos from the event on  both our channel and the Science Places channel on Youtube, photos over on Flickr and see what others were saying by looking up the #sciplaces tag on Twitter.




  1. Pam Waddell says:

    A great course in which we all had our eyes opened. I could just do with a small Podnoshian sitting on my shoulder for the next few weeks to help me out, put me right and give me tips! But I might have to get there by dipping into my social stock-pot instead.

  2. Lorna Prescott says:

    Thanks for sharing this Steph. I *love* the quotes from participants, and will share Claire’s when I’m supporting people who are worried about taking that first step. (“Not everything we put out into the world of social media needs to be heavyweight stuff. Just engaging with people – on anything – is important as it opens a conversation and starts to build trust within networks.” So true.)

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