Is it possible that two weeks have passed since the ScienceOnline 2012 conference?! I still find my heart goes pitter patter just thinking about it. What a wealth of people were in those conference rooms! I had no idea how exciting it would be to be around them - during the keynote address by Mireya Mayor all I could think was, "my people! I've found my people!" It might be billed as a conference for science writers, but at least a few of the organizers have it in mind to broaden its appeal to science communicators, a category which science artists like myself fit squarely into. A theme of the conference for the artists who attended was how art - be it illustration, graphic design, or fine art - seems to be too often treated as an afterthought. And why? It makes no sense. A good image is the same as a good lead. Both are great tools to get someone's attention and pull them in. And for the most part, the vast majority of the non-artists I spoke to at the conference were in agreement. So anyway, all this to say, I'm insanely glad I was invited to be a pioneer with the other science artists at ScienceOnline 2012. This will be a happy marriage, I just know it.

And now, the conference through an artist's eye:

The first session I attended was Perrin Ireland's most excellent Science Scribe 2.0. I loved the idea and played around with some sketch notes of my own on my iPad for the rest of the conference. Perrin did hers with colored markers on giant poster boards, but lacking paper (and let's be honest, confidence) I tackled sessions on my iPad. Interestingly, Perrin mentioned an artist named Austin Kleon who does sketch noting on post-its and then pastes them together into a grand composition after the fact. I thought that model would work well for the iPad, so think of these as sketch noted post-its. What I produced is by no means spectacular art, but from a note-taking point of view, it doesn't get more useful than this. Perrin called it "intensive listening" and I can't agree more. I'm tempted to go preach the gospel to high schoolers. I actually remember what I heard at the sessions I sketched in - if only I'd sketch noted in school, maybe I'd have been a better student!

Science Scribing Tabitha Powledge and Carl Zimmer's session, "Making Book on E-Books"

A post-it-style scribe from Tom Levenso and Eric Michael Johnson's session, "The Uses of the Past: History of Science as a tool for Science Journalists/Writers"

The first sketch note I tried. From Perrin Ireland's Science Scribe 2.0 session.

This is a photo I took of the whale skeletons hanging in the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. I am obsessed with 360 degree photo apps (this was taken with Photosynth. 360 Panorama is another one.)

NC Museum of Natural Sciences whale skeletons

And finally, this is a sketch I did on my iPad on the Art+Photo Nature Walk at the J.C. Raulston Arboretum. One disappointing discovery: it's very hard to sketch on the iPad outside b/c of the super reflective screen. I could barely see what I was doing and it was a grey day, even by Chicago standards. With that stacked against me, I'm surprised this even remotely came out!

Anyway, it was a spectacular conference and I'm already looking forward to next year. Thanks to all who made it happen.