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Shock and Awe #scio11

February 22, 2011

I am in total shock and awe after my experience at the Science Online Conference. It has taken me a long time to write this post because I wanted to fully express my admiration and intrigue about this event. I don’ t know if that will ever be fully captured, but I need to share this experience with everyone. If there is a case study of perfect community building and social media execution this group is it.

Bora (on the right) - Image by Kzelnio

The community around this event is powerful and inspiring. Over the past five years, conference participants and countless online viewers have made a living breathing community out of a conference. This annual meeting is a breeding ground of ideas, discourse and collaboration. The participants were focused during the meeting and then unleashed their ideas on the web through  100+ post-event blogs. Incredible.

The creators Anton Zuicker and Bora Zivkovic are humble, gracious and generous people. The crowd orbits around these two natural-born leaders. Their simple idea of bringing an online community to offline reality is still so novel for so many organizations trying to chase social media success. I harp on making social media networks real and making IRL connections. Anton and Bora have mastered the talent of seamlessly weaving online and offline. That is the true power of social media – it’s in the people.

Anton - Image courtesy of Lou FCD

And of course, there were the magical details that made the event sing. Anton is a master of details and has an intense level of care about this project. This was best seen in the scientific cookies that he ordered from A Cookie a Day Bakery, a local baker who makes the cutest cookies. Also the work of author coordinator Karyn Traphagen was performed with so much care. All the way down to the luminaries withe Science Online log, she cares so deeply about this event and this community.

That is the key, it is in allowing people to care about your community. It’s a two-way street of conversation, engagement and understanding. It’s masterfully shepherding conversation to useful ends. That is the real achievement of Science Online.

One of the most beautiful outcomes of the event was the Belly Button Biodiversity citizen science project from the Museum of Natural Sciences. The BBB team came to the conference to collect swabbed samples of bacteria from participant’s belly buttons. Watch famed science writer Carl Zimmer swab his innie. The participants were audibly excited to swab their belly buttons in the name of science. Getting this type of response from an event is about knowing your audience so well that you know what builds excitement and genuine engagement.

Our contribution of event logistics and social media coordination kept this well-oiled machine on its tracks, despite a serious coatroom FAIL. We felt like such a small piece of this amazing whirling orchestra of awesome. That is how you should feel if you are part a community. Never the center, but in an important networked connection.

Congratulations to Anton, Bora and everyone who touched this amazing event. I can’t wait to be part of it in 2012!

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. February 22, 2011 4:44 pm

    Science Online was a transformative event, even though my belly button failed to grow!

  2. February 23, 2011 9:12 am

    So glad you got to experience the conference unlike no other. I’ve attended twice and know both gentlemen well. You’ve captured the essence of Science Online very well. It is awe-inspiring. It is magical. It’s most definitely community building at it’s finest. And it’s totally OK that it took you a month (& change) to organize & express your thoughts too. :)

    Good stuff, Dawn!

  3. February 23, 2011 11:35 am

    I wasn’t even there this yr., but I know you’ve captured the essence of this incredible (un)conference well!! Whenever the blogosphere begins to get me down (a few times every yr.) I just think about the energy, abilities, and positivism of Anton & Bora and their participants to feel better again… and I’m reminded of the famous line from Margaret Mead: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

  4. February 24, 2011 5:32 am

    I didn’t even make it to the conference this yr. but know you have captured the essence of it well! Whenever I start to feel down on blogging (a few times a yr.) I think about the energy, abilities, and positivism of Anton and Bora and their participants, and feel better… always reminds me of Margaret Mead’s famous words: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

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