Pondering the disruption of crowdfunding: It’s not a panacea.

Challenging the Conventional Narrative, Conservation, Life in the LabJuly 1, 2014

On my train to work, I routinely am requested to donate money multiple times (and not just by the homeless guy outside the station). One comes in the form of a new project with a homemade advertisement up in the train station – and in the corner is a ‘find us on Kickstarter!’ logo. I’m then asked by my regular podcast to support them through Maximum Fun through either a subscription or one-time support.  The author of the article I’m reading asks for support through Patreon. By the time I get to work, where I could potentially pull out my banking information and support any of these initiatives, I’m thinking less about actually doing so and more about the new phenomenon of crowdfunding, wondering how effective this new phenomenon is. Not to mention, there’s no way I can support all the wonderful creators that solicited me during my commute. Plus, I realize I’m beginning to tune out the requests.

Don’t get me wrong – there’s a time and a place for crowdfunding. It can support a new business during its most vulnerable time and can provide small injections of funding when all you need is to test an idea. But it does best for people actually producing something and for ‘sexy’ topics of the day. Yet, indiscriminately choosing crowdfunding (or any other sort of funding) without consideration of which funding strategy is best can really hurt your cause, causing groups to shift their mission. So let’s think about the science of fundraising and how crowdfunding fits into a larger fundraising landscape. How is it changing the relationship between those who need support and the typical people who fund them? (more…)

10 ways drones can save the ocean

Conservation, ScienceJune 27, 2014

Over the last few months, I’ve been digging into the confusing tangle of laws that protect marine mammals and regulate the use of drones–small, semi-autonomous vehicles used by both researchers and hobbyists to observe whales and other marine mammals. You can check out the outcome of my findings over at Motherboard, where I just published Drones Would Revolutionize Oceanic Conservation, If They Weren’t Illegal. The quick and dirt summary is that there is no legal way to fly drones near whales, at the moment, but there are ways to do it responsibly while we work to catch regulations up with technology.

whaledrones

In working through these guidelines, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how we can use this new technology to aid ocean conservation. Below are my top 10 favorite ideas for using drones to save the ocean.

1. Monitor our coastlines for poaching and other illegal activities. (more…)

The communist, feminist, utopian revolutionary who Kickstarted the first submarine

History of Science, ScienceJune 26, 2014

Ictineo II. Image by wikimedia user Cookie.

Ictineo II. Image by wikimedia user Cookie.

A curious vessel sits atop a few struts in the Barcelona harbor. Passing tourists could be forgiven if they thought the small, wooden craft was a prop from the golden age of film or a quiet monument to the work of Jules Verne. It is neither. This ship, built from olive wood and clad in copper, is perhaps the most remarkable seagoing vessel of its time. She is Ictíneo II, the first true submarine.

Narcís Monturiol i Estarriol was a Catalonian revolutionary, utopian iconoclast, and proto-feminist writer who argued that the government, rather than the church, should oversee marriage licenses. He founded several newspapers–which were often shut down after a few issues–including  La Madre de Familia “to defend women from the tyranny of men” and Spain’s first communist newspaper, La Fraternidad. 

(more…)

These clams are starting to bake in Bad Gas Episode 3

Natural Science, ScienceJune 23, 2014

Welcome back. In our third installment of Bad Gas, we’re finally beginning to see visible deterioration of the shells. It’s a short one for you to enjoy.

Bad Gas Supplemental

BloggingJune 19, 2014

In which I respond to some of the comments and questions raised by the first two videos in my ocean acidification project.

Bad Gas Episode 2!

ScienceJune 18, 2014

Watch it now!

Good fish, bad fish: new draft FDA guidance considering mercury exposures

fisheries, Focus on Nuance, policy, toxicologyJune 12, 2014

After years of scaring pregnant women away from fishy nutrition, the FDA is finally updating its recommendations to encourage them to eat 8-12  ounces of low-mercury fish a week. That’s 2 or 3 meals per week in order to support fetal growth and development. Curious about what fish are low mercury? Stay away from tilefish from the Gulf of Mexico, swordfish, shark, and king mackerel and limit albacore tuna to 6 ounces a week. Better options include “some of the most commonly eaten fish such as shrimp, pollock, salmon, canned light tuna, tilapia, catfish, and cod”. For locally caught fish, you should check with your local authorities. The new recommendations aren’t final – read the draft and write in if you want more information that would help you make safe and healthy seafood choices. Here’s some things you should consider. (more…)

Absurd headlines about sharks, adjusted for accuracy

BloggingJune 11, 2014

The mainstream media doesn’t always have the greatest reputation for accuracy when it comes to reporting stories about sharks. Inspired by this brilliant campaign, I decided to “adjust” the headlines of some particularly absurd recent news stories about sharks.

This story about a shark that may have been eaten by another shark. 

1

 

(more…)

Bad Gas: a step-by-step guide to experimenting with Ocean Acidification in your kitchen

Natural Science, ScienceJune 10, 2014

After over a month of planning, it’s finally time to unveil my new ocean acidification project: Bad Gas! Watch this video to learn how to turn a Soda Stream into a miniature ocean and explore the impact of ocean acidification.

As this experiment continues, it will develop into a series of lesson plans for science teachers to use in the classroom. If you’re following along or joining in with your own tiny ocean, leave a comment below and keep us updated on your progress.

(more…)

Selected conference tweets from Sharks International #Sharks14

Conservation, fisheries, marine science, Natural Science, Science, sharksJune 9, 2014

I’ve just returned from the second Sharks International, a scientific conference for shark and ray researchers, which was held in South Africa. With nearly 300 researchers and conservationists from more than 38 countries in attendance, the conference was a fantastic learning and networking experience, and a huge success.

In addition to countless talks focusing on cool discoveries about amazing animals and important conservation issues from all over the world,  I don’t think I ate one meal at a table with fewer than 4 countries represented.   Our lab, the RJ Dunlap Marine Conservation Program at the University of Miami, gave 3 scientific  presentations, including my own, which was well-received and resulted in some fascinating discussions. The “social media for scientific outreach” workshop I gave had more than 50 people attend, resulting in a couple of dozen scientists newly joining twitter.

Speaking of twitter, more than 7,000 tweets (including re-tweets) were shared using the conference hashtag #Sharks14 ! Below are links to 8 Storify stories I made: 4 plenary sessions and 4 days of scientific presentations. * Scientists, if any of the tweets about your talk are incorrect, please alert me in the comments and I’ll edit or delete them immediately. *

(more…)

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