Get Ready For a Truly Experimental Day at the Intersection: Live Workshop Training

By Chris Mooney | November 16, 2010 8:46 pm

Tomorrow, I’m one of three teachers and trainers at an all new,¬†day long NSF sponsored science communication workshop entitled Science: Becoming The Messenger. (There’s also an advanced half day session on Thursday, designed to further develop the skills of a smaller, specially selected group of communicators).

I’m playing many roles at the workshop, but one of them is teaching two installments of a breakout session entitled “Writing for the Public”–which covers things like press releases and opeds, but is most heavily focused on the use of new media. The first session of the breakout will be from 130 to 3 pm ET, and the second is from 315 to 445 pm ET.

Why does this concern you?

Although the participants don’t know it yet (unless they read this blog), by the end of each hour-and-a-half breakout session a live blog post will be produced here about one individual workshop participant’s research. And it will be followed by an all-out attempt by members of the breakout group to use as many social media tools as possible to drive up the post’s traffic, comments, Diggs, Stumbles, etc.

And that’s not all. There will be a competition between the two breakout groups to see which one produces–and publicizes–a better and more widely read blog post. To determine which breakout group, in a relatively short space of time, is better able to draw upon Facebook, Twitter, and any other online tool they can think of to drive traffic and attention, and create a happening dialogue right here at Discover Blogs.

Regular readers of this blog aren’t excluded from this conversation, or from the competition. They, too, will also be able to participate in getting the word out about these special posts if they think they deserve it–and, ultimately, in voting on which post was more successful.

Honestly, if the regular readers here favor one post over the other, it’s obvious it’s going to win. You’re far more numerous than the workshop participants, for one thing. And we know well that some of you create big traffic waves through Stumble, Reddit, and Digg on occasion.

To identify the “winning” blog post, I’ll examine how much web traffic increases after it goes up, using SiteMeter. But that’s probably a biased and incomplete measure on its own. So metrics like number of comments, number of Diggs and Stumbles, links at places like Reddit, and other factors will also factor into the decision. We’ll give the posts about a day in order to determine which one outdistances the other (or whether it’s just ambiguous, which is certainly a possibility).

And then, I’ll do a post calling for a vote. Once again, you’re involved in that process–indeed, you’re crucial to it.

So stand by for one hell of an experiment. Unless something goes very wrong, the first post should be up by 3pm at the absolute latest, and the second by 445 pm.

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About Chris Mooney

Chris is a science and political journalist and commentator and the author of three books, including the New York Times bestselling The Republican War on Science--dubbed "a landmark in contemporary political reporting" by Salon.com and a "well-researched, closely argued and amply referenced indictment of the right wing's assault on science and scientists" by Scientific American--Storm World, and Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future, co-authored by Sheril Kirshenbaum. They also write "The Intersection" blog together for Discover blogs. For a longer bio and contact information, see here.

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