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Session 2B: Scientific storytelling: Using personal narrative to communicate science


David Manly and Jeanne Garbarino
Thurs, Jan 31, Noon-1:00 pm, Room 4

Description: The famous American General, Douglas MacArthur said that "rules are mostly made to be broken and are too lazy for the lazy to hide behind." The same can be said for writing and blogging. There are a whole host of "rules" that writers tend to shift to, and they get drilled into you by the news you read, magazines you flip through and classes you take in school - have a central argument or thesis, pretend the reader knows nothing, use an active voice and avoid the first person. But why? Why are such restrictions taught in journalism school and pounded into us? Humans are a social species and enjoy telling and hearing a good story, which is how history was first shared. Science can be boring to some people, but if framed within a personal story and made relatable, it can have much more of an impact. This session, proposed and moderated by David Manly and Jeanne Garbarino, will delve into the often neglected writing style and demonstrate how to use personal experiences to make your posts and articles more engaging, engrossing and exciting for the reader. The official hashtag for the session will be #MySciStory.

Questions:
- How can you achieve balance in a personal science narrative and why isn't it used more? #MySciStory
- Why are personal narratives frowned upon in science storytelling? #MySciStory
- How can you frame your experiences in the context of a narrative that anyone can enjoy? #MySciStory

Reading

Here are some suggestions of first-person narrative journalism out together by the moderators, David Manly and Jeanne Garbarino.
Some of these will be discussed during our session, but will primarily be used as examples to the different styles of writing a first-person narrative.
Feel free to add your favourites below!

David Dobbs describing just how strange (and fallible) his memory can be - http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2012/05/the-hole-in-my-hippocampus/

Deborah Blum on the perils of using first-person narrative journalism - http://ksj.mit.edu/tracker/2013/01/science-writing-and-me-me-me-me

The posts that inspired Deborah's post, by Gary Schwitzer, can be found here and here

Maryn McKenna on becoming part of her own food poisoning story - http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2012/10/salmo-peanut-butter/

David Manly on the difficulties associated with establishing a separate identity as an identical twin - http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/2011/03/15/mirror-images-twins-and-identity/

Jeanne Garbarino on her experiences and revelations with during her pregnancy - http://www.doublexscience.org/2011/12/pregnancy-101-on-cervical-mucus-plug.html

A heart-felt post by Carrie Arnold about battling anorexia - http://www.doublexscience.org/i-am-mental-illness-anorexia-biting-back/


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