#AAASmtg Day 1: This thing is huge.

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View from the 3rd floor of Hynes Convention Center in Boston

This is my first time going to THE science meeting. The American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting, this year in Boston. I am blogging about each day of the conference from the first timer science journalist perspective.

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Ballroom A, place of action on the first afternoon

As soon as I got off the plane, I dropped my luggage and walk over to the Hynes Convention Center. I grabbed lunch on the way and only ate half so that I could hurry up and get to….what might be the most overwhelming gathering space ever built. The vaulted ceilings. The extra wide hallways. The huge, empty exhibition halls you pass to get to the very full ballrooms.

In the ongoing  session when I showed up, New York Times’ Erik Olsen (@olsentropy)  and others were speaking about how and why to make science more visual.

All I could think about, however, was how this was soooo not ScienceOnline, the unconference where everyone seems relaxed and being young and new doesn’t matter, and is sometimes a really good thing.

This size of the conference is exciting. And there are A LOT of people here that I am excited to talk to. Now that I know the space, I expect navigating it tomorrow will be easier.

As I slipped into the flow of #AAASmtg chatter, Christie Wilcox (@nerdychrsitie), Scicurious (@scicurious), and Dominique Brossard (@brossardd) spoke about why online communication is important and why the science community should use social media. I’ll sign off on the first day by relating a interesting set of statements made in their session:

  1. 72% of average americans have a social network account.
  2. Fewer than 60% of scientists use social media.
  3. Only 28% of U.S. citizens can pass a basic science literacy test.
  4. More than 50% of Americans say they turn to internet for science information.
  5. Conclusion to draw: scientist engagement online could be impactful in shaping everything from policy to dinner table conversation.
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