Category: Communication

PPTWords matter. And so does presentation. Fifty years ago, this week, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous “I have a dream” speech. But what if King eschewed wordiness, and instead delivered a slideshow? What could it look like?

A few years ago, William Easterly Professor of Economics, New York University, drafted a powerpoint, mocking presentation software and the “evocative jargon used by ‘social entrepreneurs’ trying to change things.” Let’s compare: (more…)

NASA LogoNASA redesigned their web site, with a magnificent failure of design by committee. It is a failure of content (eliminated the most interesting details about the science and engineering), a failure of organization (poorly consolidated types of content, such as multimedia and interactive features), and failure of implementation (site does not resize for small-screen smart phones, and failed to make popup menus work correctly on tablets). (more…)

Fan fictionWho owns art and culture? Does it belong to the artist? The legal property owner? Or the society that loves and appreciates it? Traditionally, old art is considered public, and new art is copyrighted. Anyone can write a new twist on Romeo and Juliet, or mashup the Mona Lisa with a mustache. But what if Harry Potter opened a lemonade stand? Or Luke Skywalker had a twin bother? (more…)

Twitter hashtags are useful for promoting your projects, learning about new topics, and discovering trends. But what hashtags to use? We’ve analyzed usage patterns for over a thousand hashtags used in education and outreach, and give you the best. Even if you are active on Twitter, some will be familiar to you, and some will be new.

List of the best hashtags for education and outreach(more…)

Film and video can be compelling forms of communication — but using video in science is hard to do well. Science is complex and scientists are groomed throughout their careers to speak in a precise, measured way. Film makers, on the other hand, rarely have a graduate background in science, and they are attuned to storytelling, colorful characters and sound bites. Thus a conflict often rises between filmmakers and scientists, which is colorfully summarized by wildlife filmmaker Chris Palmer(more…)

Getting the community involved in contributing content to an online project is a great form of public participation, and also a way to build  large repositories of content. However, the underbelly of community-generated content is bad taste, inappropriate content, and outright abuse.

This seedy side is particularly evident in social networks sites, where users upload photos from their cell phones. To keep it clean,  social media sites hire legions of inexpensive laborers via crowdsourcing sites like Amazon’s Mechanical Turk and CrowdFlower to screen uploaded content. (more…)

Since spring 2010, this blog has covered all kinds of outreach topics, from museums to mobile devices to ebooks to blog networks. The most popular articles have been about strategic communications and QR Codes. These articles were written by Michael Douma, and many were long-form articles, based on multiple interviews or new analysis. Now, we’re going to try something […]

QR codes are a way to send information to mobile devices (e.g., a smartphone) using its camera. You send a short blurb of text, or a web address (URL) by representing it as a code which people photograph from their phone.

The codes are easy to generate. Several web sites and software programs will make the codes for you.

To read the codes, users need a QR reader app to take a snapshot of the code with their device’s camera. The app returns the decoded text or web URL.

In the photo at left, a pedestrian takes a photo of a QR code promoting an Andy Warhol show.

There are hundreds of barcode-reader apps (e.g., RedLaser and QuickMark for iOS and Android devices, and the Kaywa reader for dumber smartphones), and code-reading can be included in custom apps, e.g., a museum tour. (more…)

Mere words are insufficient to describe new web sites or mobile apps. Phrases like “access to information,” “online communities” and “interactive experiences” are ambiguous without a visualization.

Wireframes and sketches are the intermediary between a conceptual plan, and the actual, detailed prototypes and specifications needed to build a project. (more…)

A cheap and effective way to do community outreach is to piggyback or partner with existing events. NASA did this in a subtle and effective way earlier this month at an annual event for LEGO enthusiasts. “BrickFair” drew over 17 thousand people in a August weekend to a conference center near Dulles airport. (more…)