Nils Reinton
On the challenges of conference blogging : Genetic Future -
My comment: "Honestly.....this should not be an issue. The requirement that "To attend CSHL meetings, reporters agree to obtain permission from a speaker before writing up any results." borders on censorship and any decent reporter should say a loud a clear NO to such a request. Giving a talk at a conference is a public presentation, if you want to keep your data secret, then don't give a talk. If any conference organizer asks this of me, I'll either refuse to attend or do my blogging/twittering anyway. I expect any serious science-blogger to do the same. These are rules we must refuse to abide by.....honestly." - Nils Reinton from Bookmarklet
Liking for Nils' comments in the thread. "If your "unfettered presentation of unpublished work" cannot withstand the scrutiny of anyone but selected attendees, you shouldn't present it at a scientific conference. Such presentations belong in cults, sects or secret societies. Regardless of the venue however, no reporter (or blogger, or twitterer) should ever sign anything resembling a stamp of approval as a prerequisite to publish." - Bill Hooker
I think the issue is really different to this. It's simply that people think they are speaking to a room of people they can see, and when they realize they aren't they get upset. There are situations where robust and honest debate is improved by agreeing that the details of what happens within a room are confidential. What is important is that there is a discussion of the "rules" and that people take the responsibility on to think about what is happening and make a positive statement on what they expect and wish. The CSHL meetings did have a long tradition of being "private" in some senses so I think being sensitive to people's expectations is reasonable. Not everyone has heard of twitter :-) - Cameron Neylon
This could go either way, but I'm definitely on Nils' side. Others that are less open probably fall on the other side - Brian Krueger - LabSpaces
I agree with Nils but I think being polite and asking (and respecting other people's requests) is a productive way of spreading that message. If you want people to be open, be open about how you are making them open. - Cameron Neylon
I think Cam's point could be addressed by conference organizers making sure that every presenter was aware that if they didn't want to be blogged and tweeted they must say so at the outset. That way there's no need to ask permission and individual speakers' wishes can be accomodated. - Bill Hooker
Even better, part of the registration for speakers should be to indicate if they would prefer NOT to allow blogging, tweeting, etc during their talk. Then it can be indicated in the conference program and stragglers to any particular talk don't have to be in the dark. It might also lead to and interesting study of whether there is a correlation between "willingness to be blogged/tweeted" and talk attendance, though obviously many other confounding factors like talk topic, identity of speaker, time of day, competing talks, etc. If there was a correlation, I don't know which way it would go - would willingness attract more of an audience (those who wish to blog/tweet), or would unwillingness (if the talk is more private, maybe it's because the findings are more intriguing)? - Shirley Wu
+1 shwu, that is a much better idea - Bill Hooker
+1 shwu, I agree and prefer that presenters get the choice on this topic, not the organizer. - joergkurtwegner
Agree with Shirley that such information upfront would solve this (should be non-existing) problem. In the comment thread to the post there is one comment suggesting that these issues are specific to biology. Is this true ? Here's the quote: "This particular attitude of trying to enforce semi-close/semi-open (depending on your point of view) conferences seems to be something particular to biology and perhaps only certain disciplines within it. In other areas of research such a scheme would never fly. But have never understood what it is about biology that breeds this kind of attitude." - Nils Reinton
As I said to someone the other day, I want a t-shirt with a big CC-BY on the front of it (and on the back "this opinion can be freely shared and re-used) ;-) - Cameron Neylon
Actually I remember what it was - Brian Kelly was videoing me giving a talk a few nights back and asked me to explicitly say on the video that re-use and posting of material was ok. - Cameron Neylon
Cam, I love the t-shirt idea! - Bill Hooker
Agree completely with Shirley ... and I want that T-Shirt - Deepak Singh
Ditto on the shirt. - Brian Krueger - LabSpaces
Did someone mention a t-shirt? This is my area. I'm onto it. Cameron: which of the different CC license images is it that you wanted on front? - Karen James
Andrew Maynard weighs in: - Karen James
shouldn't cc themselves be selling the t-shirts? (they do have a shop of their own, y'know!) - Joe Dunckley
Well, this whole experience has certainly taught me a lot about the interface between blogging and reporting; I'll be approaching conference blogging with considerably more caution next time. I do generally agree with Nils that open conferences are the ideal, although I am more sympathetic than he is about the pragmatic decision of conference organisers to place restrictions. Long term, though, I think something like Shirley's "opt out" model is the only viable solution. - Daniel MacArthur
On the t-shirt issue the thing I had in mind was first and second in the "icon" category next to each other (see The reason I've never gone on and done anything about it was precisely because it seemed like it ought to be a CC thing to release (and make money on) and I kept failing to suggest it to someone there when we had our heads on. But if there were a design we could contribute to the CC store that would be brilliant! Or just get a run made up and donate to CC I guess? - Cameron Neylon
Speaking as a conference organizer (albeit not for scientific meetings), I think the (a), (b), and (c) specified by Neil above are about as much as anyone can expect. Even if a speaker were to say (in advance) that they didn't want to be blogged or have their message broken up in disparate tweets, there's no way for conference organizers to enforce such a request. You can ask that attendees abide by Chatham House Rules regarding non-attribution of comments, at best, but I don't think I could monitor even a small audience of 50 and ensure adherence to the rules. - Jill O'Neill
Quote from latest comment in the thread: "Second, lets face the power of amorality: Impeach tweeting/blogging/news coverage to avoid scoopers? First, have you already see a news feed precise enough to scoop someone? Second, considering the number of ruthless sharks in science, any scientist would be crazy to present interesting data still scoopable in any meeting being large or small". - well said - Nils Reinton
In regards to "any scientist would be crazy to present interesting data still scoopable in any meeting being large or small" -- if the data were very interesting and highly tweeted and blogged, it would increase the level of shame a ruthless shark would endure upon trying to scoop. That is, tweeting and blogging so the whole world knows should (in my mind) reduce probability of scooping. - Steve Koch
@Neil: what do you make of the stories so many people tell? Here's one I was told: A presented preliminary results from a knockout mouse model at a conference, B went home from that conference and repeated the work using siRNA and published first, claiming priority in an area in which he had not previously had an interest. Yes, A was still free to publish the mouse work, but you know how science views second place. And I've heard plenty of stories where the "scooper" effectively prevented the "scoopee" from publishing, since you know how much emphasis is placed on novelty. - Bill Hooker
@Bill I agree, and it has often ruined students along with the PI. Now I think about it from your angle. "A" presents preliminary results. The audience is excited -- they tweet & blog. "A" talks with more people afterwards who tweet and blog some more. "A" and A's students respond electronically by commenting on blogs and providing links to their Open Notebook Science. Is "B" really going to be able to rush home and publish "first?" - Steve Koch
Wladimir: good point. Andre Brown of Biocurious says that biologists look at arXiv and say, "how can you afford to make preprints public, you'll get scooped" and physicists look at biology and say "how can you live without a preprint server to get your preprints out there into the community without the publishing delay?" It's a totally different mindset, and I can't figure out how to get biologists to switch. - Bill Hooker
See slide 11 here: (warning, pdf!) - Bill Hooker
Bill: That's great! I've had both conversations at least half a dozen times with both physicists and biologists, usually while discussing why the arXiv took off in physics, and not in biology. (Physicist: "It's because physics is more competitive than biology". Biologist: "It's because biology is more competitive than physics.") It's very difficult to keep a straight face. - Michael Nielsen
As a biophysicist, I don't have any insight to add :) I think I see what Neil means now (maybe?), and it's consistent with what Bill and I were saying. Once the majority of the grant review panel (or tenure review panel) doesn't believe in scooping, then scooping will go away. In order for people not to believe in scooping, they need to believe in preprints (already done for physics), open notebooks, blogs, conference presentations with public slideshare, tweets, etc. So it's going to take a while. - Steve Koch
Aw c'mon Neil, what about my story of A and B and the conference? Or here's another, told by none other than PZ Myers: (5th comment). How is that not scooping (and theft, to boot)? - Bill Hooker
Well, it's widely known what happened, so why doesn't that take the sting of of being scooped? - Mr. Gunn