I love Jargon: my three biggest peeves about how we think about science communication. #SciComm

I have a fundamentally tactical approach to science communication, which occasionally puts me at odds with more conventional practices. Some of the most common pieces of advice in scicomm tend to be the least effective for accurately and precisely communicating your message to a target audience.

Release the Kraken.

1. The J-Word.

Jargon. Jargon. Jargon. We’re all supposed to eradicate jargon from our outreach. Jargon should be avoided. We need to rehab our use of jargon. Hone your science writing by only using the ten hundred most common words (because ‘thousand’ isn’t among the top 1000 word). Sure, these are good exercises for thinking about how you communicate science, but as actual communication advice, it’s big animal that makes white drink back end drop.

Jargon is beautiful. Jargon is powerful. Not only are jargon words often more precise than their generic equivalent, but jargon acts as a form of shorthand. It tells your intended audience “hey, friend, this article/film/tweet/podcast is for you”. Outreach in all forms is always targeted towards a specific audience. Using jargon well helps define that audience and helps that audience connect to your piece. Smart use of jargon can make a good piece of outreach into a tactical piece of outreach.

Which is not to say that you shouldn’t think about jargon use at all. Understanding how different words are used in different contexts and how technical language can alienate non-specialist audiences is essential to producing high-quality outreach. But the general advice that we should all just avoid jargon the least effective approach possible.

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An octopus’s garden in the sea, the world’s densest island, dangers of deep-sea fishing, and more! Monday Morning Salvage: April 23, 2018

Foghorn (A Call to Action!)

Flotsam (what we’re obsessed with right now)

  • Nuclear Legacy Voyage with Okeanos Marshall Islands.

The Levee (A featured project that emerged from Oceandotcomm)

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Alvin dives for early-career scientists, join me in the Marianas Islands, stump a scientist, embraces MPAs, and more! Tuesday (?) Morning Salvage: April 17, 2018

We’re late because Andrew doesn’t understand time zones.

Foghorn (A Call to Action!)

Flotsam (what we’re obsessed with right now)

The Okeanos Marianas. Our research vessel for the day.

The Levee (A featured project that emerged from Oceandotcomm)

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Seven ways the heroes of the Marvel Cinematic Universe could stop runaway climate change.

One of the big ironies of superhero comics and movies is that these beings of immense power, though committed to saving the world, do so by punching things pretty hard. Even when far more obvious solutions to world shaking challenges are presented, the question is not “what will do the most good for the most people” but “can I punch at it really, really hard?” Superman could have done far more for his adoptive home world if he used his limitless strength to turn a crank on an alternator.

Weinersmith knows what’s up.

Heroes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe don’t fair much better. While off avenging, sorcering, and civil warring, they’ve managed to overlook some fairly self-evident solutions to the most pressing global crisis of our time. So how could Earth’s Mightiest Heroes bring an end to runaway climate change?

1. Tony Stark creates unlimited free energy.

We can get the obvious one out of the way, first. Stark’s Arc Reactor is, for all intents and purposes, a free energy machine. Miniaturization means Arc Reactors could be used to power anything, from cars to aircraft carriers to entire cities. Switching the world’s power grid and transportation network to Arc tech would result in an immediate reduction in CO2 emissions and halt the accumulating damage of continuous energy growth as demand for technology increases around the world.

Ok, that’s the obvious one that has to be mentioned in order to avoid insufferable Twitter comments. Now on the the good stuff.

2. Use Pym Particles to sequester CO2 in the Quantum Realm. 

Pym Particles are particles that “shirk the spaces between atoms” allowing an object bombarded with these particles to shrink continuously while maintaining its mass, unless it’s a tank on a key-chain, for some reason. Comic books are ridiculous, ok?

Unfortunately, the shrinking power of Pym Particles is limitless, and once an object shrinks to the point where it’s smaller than an atom, somehow, it enters the Quantum Realm, where the laws of Newtonian physics no longer apply, time is meaningless, and you can never escape (except when you can). Shrink into the Quantum Realm and you shrink forever. That really seems like the ideal place to sequester CO2 , doesn’t it?

The big problem with carbon sequestration is that it’s not always a permanent solution. Sequestered CO2 in trees is only sequestered so long as no one cuts those trees down and burns them. The carbon is still out there in the world, waiting to be re-mobilized into the environment. But! If we could sequester carbon by bombarding it with Pym Particles and sending it to the Quantum Realm, it would shrink forever, permanently locked away in a world of very poorly interpreted quantum physics. That seems safe.

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Smart phones are worse than you think, SeaWorld takes a dive, this week in deep-sea mining, and more! Monday Morning Salvage: April 9, 2018

Foghorn (A Call to Action!)

Flotsam (what we’re obsessed with right now)

GIF by Anthony Antonellis

The Levee (A featured project that emerged from Oceandotcomm)

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Hagfish, chill Puffins, swamp monsters, the mining boat floats, and more! Monday Morning Salvage: April 2, 2018

Foghorn (A Call to Action!)

  • Want to help stem the tide of misinformation online and off? Do you have it all figured out and just need resources to implement your world-saving solution? The Rita Allen Foundation is looking for Solutions to Curb the Spread of Misinformation.

Flotsam (what we’re obsessed with right now)

The Levee (A featured project that emerged from Oceandotcomm)

Beware the Feu Follet, by Russell Arnott

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Try your hand at celestial navigation with an open-source, Glowforge-ready astrolabe!

I have a bit of a soft spot for classic navigational instruments. In an age where more people interact with maps than ever before and yet spend much less time plotting their own course, being able to look up at the sky and discern your place in the world is a powerful skill. Unfortunately, it’s not exactly easy to make your own navigational instruments. Unless, of course, you have your own laser cutter.

I recently got a Glowforge, so honestly, you should have seen this coming.

Say hello to the Mariner’s Astrolabe!

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Frisky Anglerfish, Persistent Aquatic Living Sensors, Make for the Planet Borneo, Sea Cucumber Mafia, and more! Monday Morning Salvage: March 26, 2018

Foghorn (A Call to Action!)

Flotsam (what we’re obsessed with right now)

The Levee (A featured project that emerged from Oceandotcomm)

LUMCON by boat

Photo by Melissa Miller

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#Make4thePlanet Borneo is coming! Team Applications are Open!

Make for the Planet is back! And this time, rather than the atrium of the Ronald Reagan Building, it’ll be in beautiful, sunny, Sarawak, Borneo!

Trading the robot orangutans for actual orangutans.

Trading the robot orangutans for actual orangutans.

To ensure a better future for our planet, conservation experts need to work with solutions, technologies, and expertise from diverse fields to greatly improve the efficacy, speed, cost, scale, and sustainability of conservation efforts.  Ocean acidification, invasive species, marine protection, overfishing, coral reef degradation – we are aware of the many problems faced by our oceans, and humankind has the ingenuity and optimism to solve them!

How can you help solve ocean conservation challenges? Participate in Make for the Planet Borneo and create solutions to conservation challenges in front of a global audience at the 5th International Marine Conservation Congress (IMCC5) in Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia June 24-29, 2018!  Team applications are open now through April 1st, 2018. Apply here!

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Meet me in Borneo, exploitation on the high seas, navy sonars, creature reports, and more! Monday Morning Salvage: March 12, 2018.

Happy Monday-est Monday!

Foghorn (A Call to Action!)

Flotsam (what we’re obsessed with right now)

Tweet about potential confirmation of Amelia Earhart's remains.

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