GC23A-1047: Ask Me Anything - The Reddit Revolution and other Unconventional Ways to Communicate Science

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Authors: Francesco Fiondella1, Brian L Kahn1, 3, Arif Noori2

Author Institutions: 1. Comm., Int.'l Research Inst. for Climate and Society, Palisades, NY, USA; 2. Communications, Earth Inst., Columbia U., New York, NY, USA; 3. Climate Program Office, NOAA, Silver Spring, MD, USA

Instagram. Pinterest. SoundCloud. Storify. Almost every month there’s a new platform through which institutions could potentially promote their work. If used effectively, these less-conventional means of communication can indeed be powerful devices to connect scientists and the general public, especially for small institutions with limited resources. We discuss our experiences on Reddit, a social news site, and Projeqt, a visual storytelling platform. We’ll talk about the pros and cons of using them, and provide tips on what to do and what to avoid for those interested in having a go. Nearly 1.5 million people post on Reddit daily. One of the most active sections is “Ask Me Anything”รน, where individuals can share expertise and insights. AMAs are essentially online town-hall style meetings. Movie stars host AMAs, as do politicians, athletes, and increasingly, scientists. In fact, the science subtopic is the 6th most subscribed on the site. Forecaster Tony Barnston, from the International Research Institute for Climate and Society hosted an AMA in June 2012. The session generated >200 comments and questions in 24 hours. Barnston was surprisingly pleased with the experience. “I liked having time to think about my answers,” he said, noting this type of engagement could be attractive to scientists who might feel anxious about interacting with the public. Projeqt is a creative visual storytelling platform that allows one to integrate activity from a host of social media such as Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Instagram, YouTube and more. In very short time, an institution can produce a beautiful visual narrative of its research and activities, combining its own in-house content with creative-commons content easily available on the web. The resulting product is itself shareable and embeddable.