Novel strategies in science communication: Fiction or future?

Guest blogger, Tjitske van Engelen (details below) writes…

It is Friday night eight ‘o clock. Everybody tunes in via online podcasts, live feed webpages or plain old television. And there he is; the man of the hour. Respected by fellow man for his charismatic behavior and loved by women for his enchanting smiles. The well-known jingle introduces the vibrant young show host whilst he enters the stage. Tonight will be a night to remember. It is one of these shows that everybody will talk about during the Monday morning coffee break. No way you are not watching. It is the quarter-finals: ‘thrombosis in neonates’ versus ‘fluid resuscitation in the critically ill’. A Norwegian versus a South-African researcher. The jury consists of one hundred participants with no prior knowledge of the fields of research. The contestants are scored as usual based on the three pillars of the show. First, did I learn something new? Secondly, can I repeat what I have learned? And thirdly, does it make me want to learn more? In the beginning, many contestants made a rookie mistake: too much information squeezed in the set three-minute-pitch. It was rather funny, to hear them stumble over their difficult words. Who has ever heard of macrophages before? Well, only two of the jury members, as it turned out. However, after last week’s show (‘antibiotic resistance’ versus ‘genetics and infection’) the number of Google hits for meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus were sky high, adding to the third pillar of the show. Apparently people wanted to learn more after the engaging talk of the young scientist who explained her strategies to reduce the use of antibiotics. She has won an additional 30 seconds of pitch time for her semi-finals, kindly donated by Google. Fiction or future?

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The anatomy of a good blog

ICHE recently published an unusual article (which other article has ‘the world wide web’ as their setting) on blogging in ID and clinical micro. The article reviewed around 100 blogs and rated them using a multifaceted tool. The article has some useful qualitative feedback from bloggers and readers, and identifies some gaps in the blogosphere (especially around antimicrobial stewardship). Rachael Troughton, one of the study authors, recently published a post on the article – and here’s my take on it.

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