Stuff that occurs to me

All of my 'how to' posts are tagged here. The most popular posts are about blocking and private accounts on Twitter, also the science communication jobs list. None of the science or medical information I might post to this blog should be taken as medical advice (I'm not medically trained).

Think of this blog as a sort of nursery for my half-baked ideas hence 'stuff that occurs to me'.

Contact: @JoBrodie Email: jo DOT brodie AT gmx DOT com

Science in London: The 2016 scientific society talks in London blog post

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Why should computer scientists talk to the public?

Here's some computery music to get you in the mood

I shall be co-teaching on a 'professional and research themes' skills course for undergraduates and postgraduates who are studying computer science or electronic engineering (and various modular degrees).

The course has several strands including making a short video and learning about how to find and make sense of published research (library skills, especially online).

The bit I'm involved with is writing about science for non-specialist audiences as well as audiences who might specialise in other fields and jargon. Your basic science communication.

My background is a bit more medical science communication so I'm looking for examples of computer science communication and public engagement* as well as reasons why people do it or think it's a good idea (or think it's a bad idea).

The course the students are doing is particularly interesting because they are being encouraged to think of ethical dimensions to CS / EE - I'm actually attending most of the lectures myself, learning is a pleasant side effect to working here (at QM).

Over the next few weeks as I find out more about it my thinking will probably change but off the top of my head some of the things I want to think about getting across incluce:
  • jargon that isn't jargon (words like protein, model or theory) which have a meaning to one group of people that's quite different from its meaning within another group
  • the idea that people who spend a lot of time writing in programming languages might need to explain what they do in order to get funding (also all of the other reasons for doing public engagement, or even just plain old PR / talking to the media)
  • cs4fn which my boss Paul writes, a magazine for school pupils learning about computer science, see also ee4fn and audio4fn
  • Examples of public engagement success stories that featured different groups of scientists such as Science is Vital, Bletchley Park campaigns, The National Museum of Computing, I'm a Scientist Get Me Out of Here. Plus policy things like the NHS IT programme.
  • Also perhaps the role of tech-literate people helping others make sense of important changes in the law - the Open Rights Group do this very well - eg on internet censorship.

I don't actually get that much time to share all this wonderful information but thankfully there seems to be some sort of intranet thing where I can post up snippets of info and 'further reading'.

What sort of computer science blogs are there? I've probably read tech blogs from tech magazines but not sure if I've read academic researchy ones - I must investigate.

All suggestions gratefully received, @JoBrodie or my email's above.

Thanks :)

I shall put links in later, I'm off to some strange evening in Dalston... not sure what I'm letting myself in for.

*my bit of the course focuses mostly on writing as an output activity, less on input activities beyond thinking a little bit about who your audience is so I'm not really covering PE with them but I do want to raise it as an important thing to be aware of.

Below the fold - suggestions that have come in since writing this post.

1 comment:



Comment policy: I enthusiastically welcome corrections and I entertain polite disagreement ;) Because of the nature of this blog it attracts a LOT - 5 a day at the moment - of spam comments (I write about spam practices,misleading marketing and unevidenced quackery) and so I'm more likely to post a pasted version of your comment, removing any hyperlinks.

Comments written in ALL CAPS LOCK will be deleted and I won't publish any pro-homeopathy comments, that ship has sailed I'm afraid (it's nonsense).