Shock and Awe #scio11
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.
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.
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!