[ASC-list] Where's ASC headed? Was science or persuasion

Tom Dixon tom at econnect.com.au
Fri Nov 15 07:35:40 UTC 2013

Hi all


I've been watching this debate with interest, and I'd like to add in the
perspective of a member and a regional coordinator (Qld). 


Firstly, I do see the conference as incredibly useful, even those ones
that I've not been able to attend, due to the networks they continue to
generate and strengthen within the ASC. Personally I'm happy to see my
fees used to making sure they happen as I see the conference as a major
event for science communicators in Australia. Yes, it's a cost, but one
I judge as worthwhile.


Secondly, I think this has been a good debate (fiery at times), but
maybe it will get more people involved. I see the ASC and this list as
absolutely critical to this field. I came to the sci comm field as a
result of attending ASC events, and networking with ASC folk over the


As I see it, one problem with ANY organisations run by volunteers is
that there are often a few dedicated people who end up doing the vast
majority of the work, and many who don't get involved. Maybe it's the
way people are wired? I'm not sure. We probably need a psychologist to
chip in on that one. 


But there are also many people ready to stand there and criticise,
rather than stand up and help, and change things to being the way that
they espouse. In Queensland we have a similar situation to nationally
where we are told of events that people want to see happen, yet struggle
to get people to step up and get involved in organising. I'm not blaming
anyone, as everyone's busy. But then we get back to that old chestnut...


Lastly, I think the ASC fee is more than reasonable, and realistically
is only really an admin fee. 'Professional organisations' such as those
mentioned today have fees of several hundred dollars a year, and many
have the staff and resources to deal with some of the issues mentioned
(including developing codes of conduct etc). In voluntary organisations,
it often relies on a few dedicated people to develop those things. I'd
still like to see this happen within ASC, and I think it probably will.


Many of us on this list are members of the AJA/MEAA, and they provide
the sorts of things that people might be looking for in terms of
representation or advice about ethics for now, albeit for a much larger


For me though, ASC is a great organisation doing a wonderful job on
scant resources, and I think it's probably the best $88 I spend every


Keep up the good work everyone, and look forward to seeing you face to
face in Feb. 





Dr Tom Dixon Science writer & communicator

Econnect Communication Pty Ltd

p +61 7 3846 7111 

m +61 410 173 766 

t @EconnectTom

tom at econnect.com.au <mailto:tom at econnect.com.au> 

post PO Box 3734 | South Brisbane BC | QLD 4101, Australia

address Kurilpa Studio | 14 Horan Street | West End | QLD 4101,






From: ASC-list [mailto:asc-list-bounces at lists.asc.asn.au] On Behalf Of
Claire Harris
Sent: Friday, 15 November 2013 5:01 PM
To: Mobile Science Education; asc-list
Subject: Re: [ASC-list] Where's ASC headed? Was science or persuasion


Hi Lee, 

I would like to reply to your first sentence - that just because we work
hard we shouldn't be criticised. If I take 'criticised' to mean 'judged
to find fault' then I disagree with you. 


Of course I think it's good to talk about what the Exec and others are
doing, however, please have some perspective. We are working hard (many,
many hours) with the best intentions. Being criticised via an email
blast is not a constructive way to raise issues and flag that things
should be done differently, in your opinion. 


Why not have a conversation with someone in your local branch, see if
they agree with you and therefore raise it through the National Council?
Why not send an email directly to ASC?... Why not contribute your
passion towards changing something?


The communication with the membership, including canvassing priorities,
should of course be reviewed often and re-jigged as needed and so I and
the Exec welcome workable ideas for improving this AND always have - see
my (and many other Presidents') previous posts to lists and monthly
President updates in Scope.


It's great that you "still like the idea of an association of people
passionate about communicating science".


What benefits do you see for the $88 a year? Any of these perhaps: 
http://www.asc.asn.au/membership/ ? 


It's funny, I spent $80 on a dinner the other night with my partner. I
enjoyed the evening, but hell, for $88 a year I get to stay connected to
hundreds of interesting people, hear about jobs, events, initiatives,
fun stuff, scary stuff...


I am also interested in how you feel that your field (science
education/outreach is it?) is ignored or condescended to? By whom?


Yes by all means review the conference but review it in the context of
its wider value beyond simply 'an event that some of us can't get to'.


In 2012, we had more than 250 members attend plus we were watched
remotely via Twitter and content was generated for our website.
Conferences also provide a raft of benefits, which I think others have
delved into more on the list but I wanted to point out that it is
important for connecting with people inside and outside the profession.


In 2014 we will have peer-reviewed papers for the first time and a
published proceedings - this is one way of further advancing the
professional standing of science communication as a discipline.  





Claire Harris

A/g President, Australian Science Communicators 

ASC2014 Conference Organising and Program Committees


http://www.asc.asn.au/ <http://www.asc.asn.au/> 


On 15 November 2013 11:31, Mobile Science Education <
info at mobilescienceeducation.com.au> wrote:

As a hard working science communicator myself, I'm wary of even a
suggestion that hard work can shield a person from criticism. But that
aside, ASC seems to have a pretty nasty chicken and egg problem: you
need more members in order to have the funds to provide the resources
and activities that would be needed in order to attract more members...


I do wonder if part of the problem is simply that ASC as a whole simply
isn't very clear about its purpose. At least in a professional
association of doctors or lawyers, everyone in the association agrees
about what a doctor or lawyer is. Science Communication seems to be a
very vague grab-bag of notions; is it a science journalist, a media
advisor, someone who works in the media department of an industry, a
Doctor Karl, a Questacon Science Circus graduate, a small
science-education-support business owner, a free-lance writer, a member
of a grants steering committee, etc, etc, etc...  Please don't reply to
say that it's all of those things, because at ASC it clearly is not; my
own field is one that is either ignored or condescended to. 


Having said that, I still like the idea of an association of people
passionate about communicating science, and will happily pay my
membership fee (currently overdue, must get to that...) but I don't know
that I'd pay more unless it became clearer exactly what I was paying


It seems that the majority of the time and energy resources available go
to the annual conference. Is anyone questioning whether this is the best
use of our very limited resources? It would seem that an expensive
conference that the majority of members can't get to, that accomplishes
little of concrete value (saying that we need to establish best practice
models does nothing to help establish best practice models), and uses
the lion's share of our resources, ought to be questioned quite closely.


So, having lit that fuse, I'll now return to lurking and getting my
actual work done...


Lee Harrison

Mobile Science Education


0430 588 757 or (08) 8395 9586

info at mobilescienceeducation.com.au


PO Box 556, Ingle Farm, SA 5098


From: ASC-list [mailto:asc-list-bounces at lists.asc.asn.au] On Behalf Of
Jess Tyler
Sent: Friday, 15 November 2013 10:18 AM
To: Ian M.
Cc: Susan Kirk; Asc List
Subject: Re: [ASC-list] Where's ASC headed? Was science or persuasion


I'll bite too.


AS a founding member and past Exec member, I"ve seen ASC go through
many, many iterations of how it presents to the world. Websites,
newsletters, ideas for people's pet projects, ideas for great political
change, ideas and projects that advance our cause. It all comes and goes
in the natural cycle of life in a non-professional volunteer industry
representative group.


I've also seen a lot of people not turn up to events or give feedback.
Me included. I've seen states work so hard on initiatives that flop
through lack of interest. I coordinated here in Tasmania for 14 years
and tried every thing I could think of to engage members and I ended up
stepping aside because I was exhausted from the effort for no gain and
with little support.


I've also seen a lot of people complain but not do anything or volunteer


ASC constantly asks what members want.


And many of us do put up project proposals that don't get acted upon,
but this is life. Because it is a voluntary group, with scant resources,
and as usual, only the solid few have the energy and drive outside their
day jobs to put effort in on a consistent basis.


I have my times of loving/hating ASC, but it has never failed to strive
for its objectives, and it is the only group in Australia with a charter
to advance the profession of science communication in society. I will
always support its existence, even though I don't always support
individual tactics. This is part of a growing and developing


I would happily pay double my membership fee if that meant equipping the
nat exec with the resources it needs to reach to the next level. Hell,
I'd even triple it. This is my profession and I want to belong to a
group of people who are 'my' people.


If you don't like the ASC-media list, or SCOPE, don't subscribe to it -
we are a democracy - and see it for what it is: a posting list for media
items to whoever wants to look.


If you want to communicate about communicating - go ahead!


But please don't bag out the organisation and the people who work so


Jess Tyler

SciBiz Media & Communications

ASC Founding Member #71



Jess Tyler

SciBiz Media & Communications

M: 0408 298 292


On Fri, Nov 15, 2013 at 10:00 AM, Ian M. <ianmcd85 at hotmail.com> wrote:

	I'll bite....
	Knowing a little bit about how the ASC runs, being actively
involved over the past 3 years - to post onto the ASC e-lists you need
to be a member but to receive the emails posted to the list - you
don't...so potentially people who are emailing you back privately aren't
members but want to reply?
	I agree the list should be about us starting discussions,
learning about events in your region and getting advice from those in
the field....obviously the media list should be kept to media releases
and promoting science.
	I hope someone from the exec replies but I know that alot of the
things you have suggested such as website and professionalism are well
underway and I also look forward to hearing of the progress as well  -
potentially at National AGM. Which - just to remind you the ACT branch
is hosting on the 29th of November, so hopefully local members can come
along if in Canberra.
	I disagree with your comment on the Scope Newsletter - what is
the justification for saying it's a flop? I thoroughly enjoy recieving
it each month and think more members should contribute. Plus I always
read a message from the National President giving us updates on national
activities - 
	As for members not being involved in events - the ACT branch ran
multiple events this year targeted at members and didn't get a great
response - so this is something our committee is working on, the age old
question - what do members want? 
	How do we best target events for our members? Do members want
more webinars rather then events you have to physically attend? 
	We are using ASC money after all to run these, so we want to
make sure that members are happy with what we are doing.
	As Susan stated, join in, it is a great way to learn from each
other - we are all a friendly bunch and if you are worried about posting
from your work email - post from a personal email.

	Dr Ian McDonald

	Science writer and presenter


	E: ianmcd85 at hotmail.com

	M: 0439 746 556
	Twitter: @ianmcd85
	Skype: ianmcd85


	ABN: 91 575 957 824



	Date: Fri, 15 Nov 2013 08:23:11 +1000
	From: skirk at iprimus.com.au

	To: asc-list at lists.asc.asn.au
	Subject: [ASC-list] Where's ASC headed? Was science or

	I think Charles has a valid point..  ASC is beginning to look
like Food4media or TravMedia. 
	Maybe we should do what some other associations do and charge a
premium for these media release postings? They are after all
advertising.  I think there are other better places to get media
release, AusSMC, Eureka, Google alerts are a few of the places I
subscribe and of course science direct topic alerts.
	I personally would like to see more communication about
communication on this list.  I know you can take the horse to water etc.
But why don't members feel comfortable airing their bits on here?  So
many times people have responded to me off the list.  I feel like
shouting.  Keep it on the list.  
	I would also like to see more communication from the executive
on this list.  We haven't heard anything about the new website.  We keep
employing scope editors and the newsletter keeps flopping.  We keep
talking about becoming more professional but what's happening to our
charter and code of ethics?  
	Members are not involved in any of the communications for any of
the events or funding or anything really, the only communication comes
from those few that can be bothered to raise questions or liaise on the
	I repeat.  We can't operate in a vacuum.  
	Please don't email me off the list with your replies.  Keep it
on the list.
	Susan Fairbairn (nee Kirk)   B.comm  freelance Journalist
	Member and Queensland Web Editor -  Australian Science
Communicators (ASC) 
	Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA) 
	tel: +61 7 5478 6761 <tel:%2B61%207%205478%206761>  | mobile:
0414645953 | email: susan at susankirk.com.au
	www.susankirk.com.au |  Skype: susanakirk | Tweet: @SusanAKirk
	Facebook group: Plant Power
	"If you don't ask the right questions you won't get the right

	_______________________________________________ ASC-list mailing
list list at asc.asn.au 

	ASC-list mailing list
	list at asc.asn.au


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