I always say that to get people talking excitedly about something you’ve done, someone needs to have missed it. “Oh, you wouldn’t believe what they did with the thing and the other thing…” I’m no exception. The end of July saw the British Interactive Group’s (BIG) annual event and I missed it.
There were many reasons why. Firstly, the registration cost of these events makes them somewhat exclusive, especially when you add on the cost of travel, food and accommodation. The same issues were levelled against the British Science Association’s Science Communication conference held in London. For this latter one, I was a telegate, following on Twitter and still managed to contribute to the discussion.
Rather than attend the BIG event, to sit, watch and talk about being interactive, I went to present some science to the families of Leeds at the CBBC Live event for three days, and I am delighted I did. Not only did I get to be interactive to an audience of about 38500 including a group of VIPs from Leeds and the BBC executive team, but got to share the fun and excitement with friends, Nate Adams, Andrew Smith, Fran Scott and ClassRoomMedics’ Tom Warrender. (There are pictures in the Gallery.) I wouldn’t have swapped this for anything else.
But something more worrying seems to have raised up surrounding the ‘Best Demo’ part of the BIG event. There seems to be more talk about controlling the entrants and what constitutes a demo and what the whole thing is supposed to be, than the actual demos themselves. It is perturbing to find that people professing to be focussing on interaction are spending more time becoming passionate about trifles and semantics of things that are not important. Is it really necessary to expend so much time and effort in trying to make everyone sing from the same sheet, when the purpose of such a challenge as presenting science demands creativity, innovation and diverse approaches?
Maybe it’s because being a ‘science communicator’ you are expected to blog regularly, presenting a viewpoint. If that is what you want to do, because you appreciate a journalistic approach to your communication, then get on and do it. If you focus on presenting interactive activities then do that and do it well. But these are mutually exclusive approaches. If you want to waste time defining words to impose them on people who do something different to you, in order to change what they do then here is my opinion.