About CommForge2

CommForge2 is the course website for LAIS423/523, Advanced Science Communication, at the Colorado School of Mines. From here, you can link to student sci-tech blogs, read about the course, and comment on current events and stories. Welcome!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Street Science, Meet Fracking

Andy Revkin has a good post up today over at the fabulous Dot Earth blog about how citizens are creating tools to gather data about hydrofracturing efforts across the nation.  In my mind, this is something akin to the "street science" efforts Corburn talks about in his book Street Science:  Community Knowledge and Environmental Health Justice (though the focus is not always on public health, and the "community" is writ large in this case).  Regardless of how you feel about shale gas exploration and extraction, I think we can agree that, in a democracy, it's pretty neat to see citizens involved in the production of scientific and technical data, engaged in important debates about environmental health and safety, and raising the stakes in terms of improving discourse on this controversial subject.  This can only be good for democracy.

Such efforts, argues Revkin, are proving increasingly important:

"Given that government resources for environmental regulation (and just about everything else) will be constrained for a long time to come, I’ve been enthusiastic about efforts by the public to take a D.I.Y. (do it yourself) role in tracking pollution or resource issues, whether on the ground or online."

Monday, November 5, 2012

Design is So Obvious. Why Bother?

Question:  What does ballot design have to do with Science Communication?

Answer:  Both can get really screwed up by bad design.
Our class text for this portion of the semester is Garr Reynolds' Presentation Zen.  I think it's a fun and provocative book, but it does occur to me that one might argue that it's not very rigorous in scholarly terms and that its lessons about powerpoint design might even be...obvious.

It's sort of like when my colleagues say to me, why worry about the deficit model of communication?  That's so 1990s.  Or why continue to work on public engagement in communication and policy?  We've moved past that.  Obvious, obvious, obvious.

Except that, across the board, the deficit model continues to reign supreme among specialists everywhere as the dominant worldview, and public engagement continues to be truly absent from most scientific and environmental decisionmaking, and also just plain hard to do.

Similarly, good design seems remarkably hard to come by.  Watch this short video with the hilarious Mo Rocca as he interviews Todd Oldham about voting ballot design.

Oh, hey.  I almost forgot.  Happy voting tomorrow (if you haven't already!).