Last week, if you recall, we looked at sources of information, and how to go about finding them on the internet. Sooner or later, someone has to create the content in the first place, so this week we’re looking at methods and opportunities for making our research look beautiful, and releasing it on an unsuspecting public…mwahahahaha…
This week has been a bit frantic. I’ve read the posts but not really had a chance to do anything about them…(Hey, RDP, can we organise some hands on training sessions/an opportunity to book some time to work on using some of these tools, please?). But having been at this game a while, and being an academic, I’ve given it some thought and:
Thing 12 – Making and Sharing Media: There is an expression “a face for radio”. This can be extended to “a voice for blogging”. Hearing my own voice makes me incredibly self-conscious, and I try and avoid that as much as possible. However, part of this whole process is about doing new things, so I’m going to put a pin in this and come back to it later. I’m having another go at “Pint of Science” in a couple of months. Last year, one of my friends in the US persuaded me to write up my “Pint” as a blog post. Time to up the ante, I guess, and turn this presentation into a narrated video using one of the tools, such as screencast-o-matic, suggested by the blog post.
Thing 13 – Making Data Beautiful: I’ve always felt this is pretty much essential, although beauty is in the eye of the beholder. A little bit of me dies inside, every time a student shows me a poorly presented graph. There are ups with which I will not put, and this is one of them: data is best seen in an uncluttered manner. I don’t think that any of the tools presented with this Thing are going to be of much use to me but, actually, it is important to remember that these things are not stand-alone: it is worthwhile thinking about how to present your data to best effect in different settings, including being embedded in a tweet. Infographics are a real game-changer, I feel. I was lucky enough to work with Andy Brunning, of Compound Interest, and am in awe of his skills in this regard. Summarising data in an accessible form, is fast becoming an essential part of producing work that can be published for general consumption.
Thing 14 – Sharing Research Online: There is a spectrum that ranges from “Data wants to be free!” at one end, through to “You can not be trusted with this” at the other. Somewhere along that spectrum is “you can have it if you pay for it”. My immediate reaction when I started reading RDPs blog post on this Thing was ‘there is no way I’m making my presentations freely available’. But sooner or later, you have to communicate your research with people – people need to know what you are doing, and why. If you want to be seen as an expert in your field, you’ve got to show people that you know what you are talking about. So…I’m not going to go back over every presentation I’ve ever done, but I might look back to a few, and I might pick up a few moving forward, and use the skills and tools here to put something together. Interestingly, RDP’s post pays more attention to Prezi and Canva here, but that is because the places that we would want to upload data to were covered last week. I first saw Prezi used four or five years ago, but I’ve not had a good opportunity to use it in anger, and didn’t find it fantastically intuitive when I did try to use it. A friend of mine suggested Sozi, which I looked into, but I found it even less helpful, because I needed to learn Inkscape as well. I really don’t like learning how to use new programmes. I think it has the potential to be quite a powerful tool, but does need to be treated with some caution – just because you can use it, it doesn’t mean you should use it in every situation. Prezi can be too whizzy in some settings. That said, PowerPoint was a bit too whizzy the first time I used it: the computer that I prepared my presentation on didn’t have a sound card and speakers…let’s leave it at that. Similarly, I’ve had a look at Canva, but can not yet claim it as part of my repertoire.
I had thought about putting a picture of Frankenstein’s Monster at the top of the post, but decided that it was more appropriate to start thinking about setting goals. I have a little bit of time before “Pint of Science” – which, let’s face it, is going to disappear all too quickly – but it does represent a good opportunity. So. I’m going to have a go with either Canva or Prezi to produce my “Pint”, which I will then do some kind of screen capture on, to produce something that can be uploaded for more general consumption. You heard it hear first…
Next week is the second and final rest week, so there’ll be a non-23Things post for you. We’re back after the break when we’ll be Getting exCited.