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World Conference of Science Journalists

Just back from the 6th World Conference of Science Journalists in London this week. Tired, suffering the after-effects of overheating in old London buildings with no air conditioning, such as Westminster Central Hall.

Regardless, it was an excellent conference, a great opportunity to meet a hugely diverse range of people. Some of them old friends known from previous career incarnations, including the delightful and enthusiastic Sunny Bains and ESF’s Sofia Valleley, newscientist’s Graham Lawton, C&EN’s Celia Arnaud, Nature’s Mark Peplow, Wilson da Silva of Cosmos, the Nobel Simon Frantz, Diabetes UK Jo Brodie, immuno expert and communicator Caroline Cross, fellow freelance Cormac Sheridan, The Guardian’s Tim Radford and Alok Jha, and many others.

Then there were the previously only virtual friends made flesh – Claire Ainsworth, Mun-Keat Looi aka @Ayasawada, the winning Ed Yong, Paul Sutherland, Richard Scrase, Martin Ince, Sonya Buyting, Jennifer Beal, John and Kate Travis, James Cornell president of the International Science Writers Association, Oranjeboom fiend Arran Frood, Juliette Mutheu.

Not forgetting, looking very smart and professional in orange Emma, Jessica, Jacob, and many, many others manning the stands and allowing the hacks to lead them astray at the Westminster Arms. And, of course, the inimitable Sallie Robins. I’m going to stop before this begins to sound like an Oscars speech, so apologies to my other new best friends if I didn’t mention you here.

The coffee break, lunchtime and social discussions were often even more diverse than the scheduled plenaries, lectures and workshops. Chat among journalists usually degrades to rates, kill fees and booze. However, this meeting was different topics featured in both lectures and chats headed off to the rise and fall and the rise of science journalism, the heat, philanthropy, Bach, Saharan solar power, the heat, inexpensive bus rides, Scottish lasers and Mount Rushmore, the miniature hamburgers, the heat, nano-curlers, orange ties, blogging, the LHC, man bags, chiropractic, AIDS, and MrsSlocombesPussy, of course, and so much more…including rates, kill fees and booze.

A wonderful week everyone. Thank you.

Meanwhile, for Twitter fiends: We may not have trended our hashtag “#WCSJ” but we tweeted 2,494 tweets, there were 236 contributors (out of 800 or so delegates), We averaged 356 tweets per day with almost half of those coming from the most prolific 10 twitters. an eighth were retweets, a fifth were mentions, and just over 5% had multiple hashtags and so spilled into other areas.

Discussion on twitter using the #WCSJ hashtag really started to heat up on Thursday last week – you can read a transcript here and you can tweak the dates to home in on particular days for the actual conference.

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