I’m still collecting my thoughts from the World Conference of Science Journalists. I have a lot of them. Here’s one of (perhaps) several posts that relate to those thoughts.
When we launched the Uncertainty issue for Nautilus Magazine, I added a column to my TweetDeck that searched for any Tweets with the word “uncertainty” in them. I thought I might find some interesting links or discussions about uncertainty in our lives that I could use or retweet. And while I didn’t really find anything usable for Nautilus, I did find that I was totally mesmerized by that column. I checked it all the time. It was so incredibly different from my usual Twitter feed – full of people completely different from me who were worrying about relationships and death, God and their parents, taxes, bills, whether they were going to have to go to court again, whether they were pregnant and whether their boyfriends who got them pregnant still liked them.
In journalism we talk a lot about our “audience.” And for most of us, we have no clue who those people actually are. I picture some of my friends from high school – people who are curious and smart but skipped class when they could get away with it. Other journalists I know picture their uncle or their mom. But all these people leave us with the same problems: they’re people we know, they’re people more or less like us. This is a huge problem (I think) with science communication in general. We’re really good at talking to people like us, and we’re really bad at talking to anybody else. (I’ll have more thoughts on that point later, but for now I’ll leave it at that).
Since stumbling upon the uncertainty search in Twitter, I wondered what it would be like to apply it to science. So, here’s a little site. It shows you who you need to win over, and who is already on your side. (Yes, I know that not everyone in the world is on Twitter and that using this ignores large underrepresented portions of the population. We should talk to them too. It isn’t meant to be a cure, just a little window into a slightly different world than your own.)
Let me know what you think. Does this help? Are you learning anything? If so, share!