ScienceOnline2010 – interview with Hilary Maybaum

Continuing with the tradition from last two years, I will occasionally post interviews with some of the participants of the ScienceOnline2010 conference that was held in the Research Triangle Park, NC back in January. See all the interviews in this series here. You can check out previous years’ interviews as well: 2008 and 2009.
Today, I asked Hilary Maybaum from to answer a few questions.
Welcome to A Blog Around The Clock. Would you, please, tell my readers a little bit more about yourself? Where are you coming from (both geographically and philosophically)? What is your (scientific) background?
I’m an East Coaster from the U.S., originally and ultimately a New Yorker, but I spent 14 years of my life in Hawaii. Those years shaped most of scientific approach to the world, for it was there that I earned my Master of Science degree in oceanography. I staged my early training as a scientist at the other side of the world — Woods Hole, Massachusetts.
Tell us a little more about your career trajectory so far: interesting projects past and present?
I figure I’m on career #9 or 10 at this stage. My wayward trajectory has been: Teaching Assistant –> Bartender –> Instructor –> Author –> Oceanographer –> Environmental Consultant –> Science Editor –> Grant Director –> Business Owner (Science Writer)
What is taking up the most of your time and passion these days? What are your goals?
Running my business, I provide science writing and editing services, mostly for educational publishers. I write a lot of textbook material (print) and I develop online activities for publishers’ companion Web sites. Tweeting and blogging are also part of my current career. I still hope I’ll get paid by someone like Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution to manage their social media networks and Web content, but I’m happiest working for myself. I’ve yet to write a business plan, though. After three successful years, it would probably be a good idea. But I’m so good at procrastinating.
What aspect of science communication and/or particular use of the Web in science interests you the most?
The evolution of science communication interests me immensely. I’ve seen a lot of changes over the past 20+ years, and I like what I’m seeing now. For example, the other day I was visiting the new online catalog of whale flukes for Southeast Alaska and noticed that full PDFs were attached to each scholarly article referenced on the site. How cool is that! I wish more people would think to include full article citations in their science writing and online journalism, because that’s the best way for people to educate themselves on topics of scientific interest. I know, Bora, that you are an advocate of this and I praise you for your efforts.
How does (if it does) blogging figure in your work? How about social networks, e.g., Twitter, FriendFeed and Facebook? Do you find all this online activity to be a net positive (or even a necessity) in what you do?
I mentioned these earlier, so yes, they are a net positive and, I feel, a necessity in the sense that blogging and tweeting stretch my outreach and networking abilities. I’ll tell you what, though. The National Association of Science Writers doesn’t agree with me. I sent them blog clips from my site, Wet to support my membership application, but NASW promptly rejected them. According to NASW’s director, “self-published or personal blogs do not fit the criteria for clips.”
Despite this official rejection, I have found social networking to be very helpful in non-writing endeavors, such as finding editorial assistants, discovering workshops and conferences (I’m looking at you, ScienceOnline 2010), and even job searching. But the best part for me about social networking is the ability to connect and reconnect with scientists — my favorite group of people!
When and how did you first discover science blogs? What are some of your favourites? Have you discovered any cool science blogs by the participants at the Conference?
I’m an old fan of Seed Magazine; hence, I found ScienceBlogs many years ago. I have recently (in the past 6 months) discovered a plethora of cool science blogs (yours among them, of course!) as a result of my connections on Twitter.
What was the best aspect of ScienceOnline2010 for you? Any suggestions for next year? Is there anything that happened at this Conference – a session, something someone said or did or wrote – that will change the way you think about science communication, or something that you will take with you to your job, blog-reading and blog-writing?
What I liked best about ScienceOnline 2010 were the physical/mental/spiritual aspects of being among like-minded people of all ages and sizes. I found it to be highly energizing. I think, too, that it was so well organized, with lots of play time and technological opportunities, it was as if every minute was a gift. And to top it all off, I got to sit among an entire table of marine scientists at dinner! That hasn’t happened to me in decades!! So thanks again, Bora and Anton, for a job well done and with heart.
It was so nice to meet you in person and thank you for the interview. I hope to see you again next January.
Hilary Meybaum pic.jpg
[Hilary Maybaum aboard the Alvin submersible]


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