How should we approach and discuss climate change? Engage with illustrations or with data? At the Experimental Vlog we discuss climate change with two personalities: Steven McEntyre (an artist) and Prof Nicklebreth (a scientist). While they have opposite thoughts on how to present scientific data, they both can appreciate that climate change is real and that we must do something about it. Being our first episode, we hope that these personalities join us later for more exciting discussions. Like all our Spawn Theory videos, this was completely unscripted and unplanned, anything that would suggest otherwise is just a coincidence.
Explaining our PhD research is as essential as conducting the research in the first place. And it’s already difficult to explain the research to other scientists in the field, but to present it to a non-science audience, in 3 minutes, now that’s the actual challenge!
It’s training us to make fast and quick impact points. But, training us for what exactly? It’s like pitching a business idea to a panel who will interview hundreds in a day. The real question is how to be unique and credible in 3 minutes. What’s the real message that we are trying to say about science?
The Challenge Episode 1 “Blinded Science”
Often times, we don’t get a chance to explain ourselves. Ironically, when we do get ample time to explain ourselves, we don’t exactly know when to stop. I know, I often run into those moments when my partner in conversation is grinning at me, with a look of confusion on their face. Or when explaining an idea to a colleague, that I should have rehearsed beforehand, but thought I could explain it well. When asked by a job interviewer “why do you want to work here”, those unprepared would have a hard time finding an answer to such a broad question. Even if prepared, getting all the thoughts together, so to sound natural, can be as difficult.
But what if you weren’t allowed to speak naturally? Anyone who has presented their research or interests to somebody with no prior knowledge about it, has surely wondered how much detail should be said or just talked until the other person started to think about anything else but what is being explained. Surely, as scientists, as good presenters, we know that not everyone will have the same training or background for a particular subject. Therefore, to get our word across, we must adapt to our audience.
Here, we take this concept and make it even tougher–skip the intermediates and head to the extremes. An extreme that our early ancestors may have called normal, thousands of years ago–back when hunting patterns or observations were recorded on cave walls. We always like sharing an experience, they make great stories, great conversations. But most importantly, experiences serve as small sticky notes for learning about the challenges that life may bring. We have some of the most unique ways of communicating with each other, with varying degrees of complexity. We live in a world where we can communicate via wired and wireless connections. I don’t remember when the message in a bottle trend died out, but we have come a long way, that it’s almost as if we don’t appreciate the skills that were essential in the past. The patience of writing a letter by hand or on an error-prone typewriter, to waiting days, some times months for a reply, when now it takes seconds to communicate with a friend half-way across the world. Sure, we have other worries like the unforgiving ‘Seen’ at the bottom of the message. We can simply correlate our ability to communicate better because we have more advanced resources of communication today, than we had in the past. And we hope that these resources will develop as time passes.
So the question is: are the skills of our ancestors still within us or have we relied too much on our ability to express ourselves through writing or speech? Or are these skills no longer needed?
Our first challenge tests the ability to present scientific research without the use of technology or relying on speech to communicate research information. The video itself is unscripted and we try our best in guessing what our Guest speaker does in the lab. The video was filmed in a noisy hotel lobby, which made communication and general comfort difficult, however our scientist performed extremely well, considering he had no time to prepare for this challenge. This goes to show that although we may be die-hard fans of technology and chatter, we can still communicate, and others can get the picture, in a manner of speaking.