The following is from Daniel Keogh, ex-ASC member, and is shared by request. A valuable contribution to the current ‘debate’.
(and on a related note: has there ever been any effort to do an exit survey on members who let their financial status lapse for more than 1 year?)
Mobile Science Education
0430 588 757 or (08) 8395 9586
PO Box 556, Ingle Farm, SA 5098
It’s been great to watch this evolving debate on the ASC-list; a refreshing shift from the small fry problems such as how one pronounces ‘kilometre’.
As Nancy mentioned, the diversity of opinions demonstrates passion and commitment to the cause.
But let’s talk about diversity…
As many have mentioned, being a science communicator is a tricky thing to classify. We have journalists, communications officers, entertainers, educators and producers.
But there’s diversity in our financial, geographical and practical dimensions too.
Some of us are contracted with healthy salaries, others run small business. There are freelancers who live by each paycheque and dreamers whose desire is simply to affording the oil to give their rags an aroma.
We’re from all over the nation. Our nearest event could be within our building, a drive from beyond the metro or a flight from the other end of the country.
There’s also what is practical and relevant to each of us. We have some that directly antagonise social media platforms, and others that live by them. Those that value practice and those that value theory. Some serve masters and some are their own. There’re talkers and actors and curious spectators.
Roll the dice on any of these dimensions and you have a science communicator, each with different circumstances. What a bunch of mongrels we are, you and I?
My profile falls in the category where the travel is too long and costly, the discussion is inapplicable and the communication methods inefficient. That’s why I don’t support a conference and why I ultimately left the ASC.
But I’m just one member of this multi-disciplinary monstrosity. Others have clearly found value with the group and continue to create it too.
However, I feel diversity isn’t helping our community. Go back to first year Science Communication: who is your audience ASC?
Is it science public relations and communications officers?
or science journalists?
or science outreach teams?
Or science popularisers and performers?
We’re really just a family of orphans here, planning what we’ll do at Christmas. Will we bring together the ‘family’? Or hang out with the people we have more in common with?
As far as I see it ASC needs to pick what it wants to be, or else nurture the diversity.
Lee rightly feels marginalised when people on the list (who can afford to attend conferences and help organise them) don’t value his input, or even address him in person. And you wonder why survey responses are so low.
And how can individual branches expect more than single figures when an event may only be relevant or appealing to a few members? Or the discussion group goes dead after the grammar nazis are done discussing their pet peeve?
Perhaps it’s chapters we need, or forums for different types of communicators, or to define exactly what ASC is and isn’t. But you’ll never grow your membership unless you embrace and increase what you all share in common.
And honestly, besides a love of science, that’s not a whole bunch.