Archive for category: Socializing

Alternative talk styles

October 12th, 2009 by

I went to a toastmasters meeting, and found some interesting tricks to improve presentations. For example, they count the "ahhs", "hmm" etc. Since then I’m surprised at how many scientific talks are filled with those. A minor thing, but very effective. I didn’t keep going to meetings because it looked to me that the presentation style they use is not very compatible with the academic one (e.g., practicing improvisation). But it got me thinking… what alternative talk styles are out there? Is the ‘standard’ one the best? In a way, flying people all around the world to ‘see’ the talk is a bit of a lost cause, because body language doesn’t weight as much as in other communication styles. Of course, the networking and face-to-face time, to work on ideas on napkins, may make up for it, but still…

What follows is a walk through alternative talk styles that you may want to try in your next conference. Some require you to be the organizer, and enforce certain rules. Others, you can try just being the speaker. On with the show!

Pecha Kucha is a presentation format in which content can be easily, efficiently and informally shown, usually at a public event designed for that purpose. Under the format, a presenter shows 20 images for 20 seconds apiece, for a total time of 6 minutes, 40 seconds. They took the name Pecha Kucha from a Japanese term for the sound of conversation ("chit-chat"). It was being aimed primarily at creative industries professionals.

A Lightning Talk is a short presentation given at a conference or similar forum. Unlike other presentations, lightning talks last only a few minutes and several will usually be delivered in a single period by different speakers. This has actually being already adopted by academics (I’ve been to one!) and in my experience, it’s adored by the audience and well attended.

Ignite is a style of presentation where participants are given five minutes to speak on a subject accompanied by 20 slides. Each slide is displayed for 15 seconds, and slides are automatically advanced.

Last we have the TED talk. The motto of TED is ‘Ideas worth spreading’. If you are an academic, you should ask yourself, ‘is any of my ideas worth spreading?’. So if someone invited you to give a TED talk, what would you talk about? What if you make your next invited talk a TED-like talk?

Feel free to report your experiences with alternative talk styles in the comments…

Hierarchy of modern life distractions

September 12th, 2009 by

Hilarious visualization here:


Reminds me why, after sacrificing it to the washing machine twice, I decided not to have a mobile phone.


Sharing tiny nuggets of wisdom with twitter: use the #AcaProd hashtag

July 6th, 2009 by

We want anyone to be able to contribute to One way to do this is to leave blog posts open (but with a reviewtwitter-logo-large queue). We proposed this method here, but not many people seem to be making use of it.

Maybe writing a blog post is too time consuming, and the barrier of entry is too high. An easy solution is microblogging: services like twitter let you share a tiny bit of something interesting you found (with a link), and anyone following you will receive it.

The thing with microblogging is that it doesn’t take much effort to share. Many people (including me) thought it was silly at first, but now it’s mainstream.

Since twitter provides you can find what people talk about right now. If you want to monitor a special topic, chances are someone came up with a unique way of identify the topic. A spontaneous way of organizing information outside the ‘follows’ structure emerged: the hashtag. These are terms that start with #, example: . We have set up for academicproductivity. If you have an idea, or read something outstanding that you would like to share with us, just tweet about it and add somewhere in the 140 characters. Your tweet then is easily found by anyone interested in the topic. We will display all tweets in our front page too.

I found myself sharing a lot of interesting stuff over twitter, and much more often than through a blog, so I have a good feeling about this.

Of course, you should keep sending ideas/suggestions/complaints using our email,

Science Online London 2009

June 4th, 2009 by

If you are interested in scientific blogging and collaborative tools for research and happen to be in the UK this summer, here’s an event not to be missed:

science online london

Science Online London 2009 will explore the latest trends in science online. How is the Web affecting the work of researchers, science communicators, journalists, librarians, educators, students? What can you do to make the best use of the growing number of online tools?

The event is cohosted by Mendeley and Nature Network. More information available here:

Zotero 1.5 Beta Released. The sharing features are here, and also getting meta data from existing pdfs

February 28th, 2009 by

This is an exciting release.

In a single stroke, Zotero may have added the most important feature of online apps such as citeUlike (collaboration) and the best feature of Mendeley (metadata extraction). I have no idea how well these work, as I have just moved to zotero recently and don’t want to risk trying the beta this soon, but if they work well, this is a quantum leap.