There will be a whole host of sessions and workshops about writing - tips on how to do it better, on getting ideas, on writing longform pieces and publishing books:

The Path from Research to Book: Tools & Workflow Tips from Top Writers (discussion)- David Dobbs and Maryn McKenna

Once we used index cards. Now we use ... well, what do we use? And how do we use it Writing any book, especially a science book, involves gathering and then somehow harnessing and drawing from an enormous amount of raw material — scientific papers; articles, video, audio from mass media; notes from reading in a huge variety or sources; interviews, web pages, stray thoughts, scenes from one's one interviews. One of the writer's biggest challenges is how to find, gather, sift, save, and ultimately parse that material into bits and pieces with which to build the book. Good software can aid this task. But to succeed rather than go mad, you must choose and use your tools wisely — and create a workflow that helps you harness and shape your material in a way that complements your work and cognitive style. In this session, two experienced authors on the stage, and hopefully several more in the room, will describe how they've gone about this — their physical and software tools, their workflows, their work habits — with an emphasis on finding a smart path from raw material to solid draft. We'll cover both Mac and PC tools. Then we'll see what the crowd uses.

The Uses of the Past: History of Science as a tool for Science Journalists/Writers. (discussion) - Tom Levenson and Eric Michael Johnson

What does the history of science have to offer writers of stories concerned with contemporary results? A lot: context, for one; explanatory tools for another, (every complex modern science question/result has its roots in more accessible inquiries); bullsh*t detection; narrative...and so on. Historical knowledge and thinking like a historian help provide both specific material for stories and a technique for thinking about what to write and why.

Sex, gender and controversy: writing to educate, writing to titillate (discussion) - Scicurious and Kate Clancy

"Everyone loves a duck penis (seriously! everyone!), but do audiences drawn to sexy topics actually learn about science? How can we blog these issues in a way that's more than just titillating? How can we use research on reproduction, sexuality and gender, and sexism and bias to promote interest in wider aspects of science? How much does the identity of the blogger matter? The identity of the audience? Join us for discussions of gender, sex, blogging, and... humping rats."

The Punchlines and Perils of Science Humor (discussion) - Brian Malow and John Rennie

“What can I get you?” the bartender asks. A tachyon walks into a bar. And so on. Well-executed touches of humor can help make science writing more expressive, personal, and memorable. Badly executed humor can induce eye-rolling, embarrassment, and retreats for the nearest exit. This session will focus on doing the latter. —Eh, maybe not, but we’re setting the bar low. We will in fact discuss how to find the humor hiding inside science stories and how to present it to good effect to various audiences. How can analogies and metaphors, anecdotes, and other storytelling devices help to bring the science alive? How can you express your humanity and curiosity through the humor without becoming that guy who tries too hard? Brian Malow (@sciencecomedian) will draw on his extensive experience for this discussion while John Rennie (@tvjrennie) holds his coat. Everyone is encouraged to bring, share, and discuss their own favorite examples of analogies, metaphors and other humorous devices (rhetorical, not electrical!) useful for conveying scientific points.

Story as Shape or Song: Geometry and Music as Longform Nonfiction Structural Models (discussion) - Deborah Blum and David Dobbs

Nonfiction narratives longer than about 3000 words often demand different, more various structures than shorter pieces do. In this workshop, authors and longform writers Deborah Blum and David Dobbs will describe open a discussion of literally storytelling by describing how geometric shapes (Blum) and musical forms (Dobbs can offer models for conceptualizing, organizing, and composing narratives from about 3000 words up. Is you story a parabola? A circle? A pyramid? Or is it a pop song, a fugue, or a sonata? With a variety of forms to consider as models, you can create what Blum calls "a structured seduction of the reader." Which, when it works, makes everybody feel good. Pulitzer Prize winner Deborah Blum, author of The Poisoner's Handbook and Love at Goon Park, writes for leading magazines and literary journals including Scientific American, Slate, Lapham's Quarterly and Tin House and keeps her blog, Speakeasy Science, at PLOSblogs. She teaches nonfiction writing at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. David Dobbs, author of Reef Madness and the Atavist hit My Mother's Lover, writes features for The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic, National Geographic, Slate, and other magazines, and is working on his fourth book, The Orchid and the Dandelion. His blog Neuron Culture is at Wired.

Weird and wonderful stories in the history of science (discussion) - Brian Malow and Greg Gbur

The history of science is filled with great stories: entertaining, enlightening, and sometimes horrifying! In this lighthearted session we'll talk about using weird tales in the history of science to liven up your science posts and teach about science and its methodology. People are encouraged to bring their favorite historical stories to share, and discuss what lessons the story provides. The moderators will also tell some of their favorite unusual tales!

Making Book on E-books: How to write a science or medical e-book and publish and sell it online (discussion) - Tabitha M. Powledge and Carl Zimmer

The emphasis of this session/workshop would be on *practical steps* for writers who understand that electronic publishing has turned the book world upside down and who want to take charge of preparing their books and bringing them into the world electronically. Participants to include a writer who has done this on his/her own, a writer who has worked on an e-book with a traditional publisher, and a writer who has worked with a commercial online publisher such as Amazon's services.

Oral storytelling

We'll soon send out instructions and a call for submissions for those who want to tell a (hopefully science-related) story at the Friday night banquet, organized by our friends at The Monti. More information soon.

Learn more:



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Previous conferences

Nice things people said about ScienceOnline2010

ScienceOnline2011 on YouTube

ScienceOnline2011 on Flickr

ScienceOnline2011 official recordings

Previously in this series:

What is: ScienceOnline2012 – and it’s coming soon!

ScienceOnline participants’ interviews

Some updates on #scio12, #NYCscitweetup, Story Collider and more.

Updates: ScienceOnline2012, Science blogging, Open Laboratory, and #NYCSciTweetup

ScienceOnline2012 - we have the Keynote Speaker!

Mathematics - Algebra and Statistics and more - at ScienceOnline2012

Information, data and technology at ScienceOnline2012

Health and Medicine at ScienceOnline2012

Education at ScienceOnline2012

Movies and Video at ScienceOnline2011

Sound and Music at ScienceOnline2012

Visual Communication at ScienceOnline2012

Submissions for the Cyberscreen Science Film Festival are now OPEN!

Scientists and the Media, at ScienceOnline2012