The inimitable Luke Robert Mason joined Science: Disrupt to talk community building around science, science miscommunication and what role marketing and social media should play in the future of science communication.
With a theatrical background, Luke comes to science communication from a fascinating angle. He speaks of bringing credit to the soldering iron wielders – those scientists ‘on the front line’. But his appreciation for scientists and researchers of all stripes is more than just bringing superficial acknowledgement to their craft. He holds a great deal of respect for expertise and claims to be firmly in the Alan Alda school of science communication, that of being a curious mind intent on finding answers. A choice quote stemming from this approach is to “never ask a question you know the answer to”.
Respecting your audience was at the core of Luke’s thesis: to him the audience is not at an event to be lectured to by the gatekeepers of knowledge. Said audience can be a valuable source of insight, something that is often overlooked in the ‘science communication as education’ framework.
Nowadays in our oversaturated social media world with the never-ending treadmill of digital journalism, people are on the hunt for entertaining but most importantly, trustworthy content. They want stories with humanity, faces to facts, and as Luke puts it, ‘magnets’ that draw people into the content. This can effectively cut through the noise of the so-called ‘fourth culture’ – the internet-driven popular culture of memes, cat videos and viral content.
The question remains however, how do we capitalise on this attraction? Sure, the ‘ALS Ice Bucket Challenge’ and ‘Boaty McBoatface’ were incredible marketing successes that brought great attention to the causes, but what form does successful follow up engagement manifest in? How do we cut through the volume of messages presented to us each day? And what exactly does serious but fun* scientific content even look like?
All questions we hope to continue pondering through Science: Disrupt.
Luke Robert Mason is the Director of Virtual Futures, an organisation that collides science, technology and art through immersive events.
He can be found here: @lukerobertmason
They can be found there: @virtualfutures