To most people they’re just bugs

Thanks to Science Blog today for the summary of an article in BioScience – as usual, seems you have to be a ‘member’ to read the BioScience article.

The paper provides some thoughts on the contributions insects make to society. It seems, in the US alone, the contribution of insects is at least $57 Billion, despite the losses from pests. Science Blog’s post is short, but it’s well worth the time for a read.

This must be national insect day or something, because just this morning I came across a link to Igor Siwanowicz and his collection of insect photos . Wow. Who says insects can’t be cute 😉

Of course, I spent quite a bit of my career studying insects, and I might be a tad biased.




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Go ahead and paint yourself a snake

Here’s a new site on reptiles in British Columbia, brought to you by Thompson Rivers U and Ministry of Water Land and Air Protection. Thanks FORREX Conservation Biology listserv for the link.

The page after the jump let’s you (your inner child?) colour in some snakes. Role models are pictured above each drawing for you to base the colors on – if you’re in a less-than-creative mood, that is.

Some of the other links on the page offer pictures, references, range maps etc. of common reptiles you might meet in various areas of the province.

If you are into taming rascally reptiles there are also some hints to help you keep your pets (and neighbours?) happy. Apparently it’s more difficult to keep a pet reptile than meets the eye.

Interesting stuff. Good for learning. Good for education.

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One way, two way, overlap, blended

I found this post today through Doc Searls blog.  It’s by Nellie Lide at Newpersuasion and talks about "A blended future", where it’s hard to tell where company/customer boundaries are and the two work together as one. Interesting stuff, and it was a surprising coincidence.

While writing an introduction for myself, I described my past work as an extension specialist:

I trained formally as a biologist and after a few years of research, started specializing in science extension. If you’ve never heard of extension, think marketing and communication with a twist. Rather than the typical one-way push of messages in marketing, the point of extension is to develop two-way conversations between the producers and consumers of information; the activities of one driving the other.

In science and elsewhere (JOE), an extension specialist provides guidance and resources to help start and maintain those conversations. The great thing about extension is that it gets the science research out of the science publications and into the hands of those that can use it to do better work. Extension also helps clarify where research has missed the boat. Client feedback is like that.

In a sense, our goal was to blend the science with operations. However, we always struggled to get past step 2, "The conversation". Just like business, science still communicates mostly outwards. That’s logical, I guess. Scientists are paid for being experts, and the way they become experts and get more pay is to publish. Until that happens, they usually remain in ‘stealth mode’ with their information. Old news doesn’t rate publication.

Still, there’s lots of room for collaboration and sharing. ‘Someone important’ once said that they didn’t mind sharing last years technology with the competition. I think there is lots to be said for that. I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard people suggesting something for research, and the answer from researchers has been ‘it’s been done’.

Sure it’s been done, but it’s squirreled away in a science journal somewhere, not in a place or form that ordinary people can find and use. Science needs to spend more time re-crafting their information for a wider audience. Hopefully some of the funding agencies will stand up to the task and demand it as one of the ‘deliverables’.

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