Elsewhere in the blogosphere update January

So here we are, two months since the last entry cobbled together with clips from around the web with ANOTHER ONE. I guess I’m sticking to blogosphere too. As with the last update, I’ve been contributing a lot elsewhere, some of which you may have missed.I struggle with the fine balance between trying to share ideas, what I’ve written and what others have written, enough so that people see it but not too much to end up spamming content he says whilst spamming content.

December and January have been fairly busy but here’s what I managed to squeeze out of the old brain tubes.

Underwhelming Fossil Fish of the Month for the Grant Museum of Zoology is on hiatus this month for a truly spectacular Most Amazing Fossil Fish Ever Discovered #MAFFED You must be very ignorant or stupid not to have already read it yet. Everyone is talking about it because it is the best. The usual dreary service will likely continue next month because you can’t top the top, best the best or cream of the crop a umm cream of the crop.

The Other 97% The follow up blog to the Popularising Palaeontology workshop I mentioned in the last round up is out. The focus of the blog post is a slightly refined version of the talk, calling for museum to up their game when it comes to how they popularise palaeontology. Less dinosaurs and walls of fossil by stratigraphy and more embracing the full toolkit of exhibiting and interpreting of the weird, wonderful, whacky and speculative. In many ways our modern fauna is quite boring compared to the groups that were.

The Guardian’s Lost Worlds Revisited blog continues. This month, given what’s happening across the world, I really struggled to enshrine some of the frustration when it comes to ignoring, misusing or abusing science. Facts are the reason science is losing during the current war on reason or exploiting misunderstanding the origin of the facts we pick up through education, the media and wider exposure is. Questioning facts is a useful skill for scientists (too often it’s easier not to) and increasingly we need to make sure that everyone is equipped to scrutinise information. I must have rewritten this six times. Ironically for a blog post about science communication, it was just impossible to cram it all in there. With a bit more space I would have really gone into scientific training, the meta-science disicplines that pull up lazy, incorrect, cherry-picked and unreliable science and of course the growing movement in critical thinking education. But alas, it was becoming an unwieldy hydra long read and not fitting for the format.

Flight of the Dodo. At the Oxford University Museum of Natural History we have a small display area for Presenting… displays curated by the collections staff. These small and rotating displays are a great opportunity to experiment with ideas with potential and react to current research and issues. Flight of the Dodo (I had wanted to call it Dodododododododo but wisely was shot down by colleague Scott Billings) is the first one I have done and there’s no small irony in promoting a blog post and display about the dodo through the more than a dodo twitter account and more than a dodo blog. However, cast, models and replicas in natural history museums have been a long standing interest of mine plus I figured I need to get one dodo something out of the door before then focusing attention on the other million objects I’m lucky enough to manage at the Museum. The display is all about the commissioning and manufacturing of casts of the head of the dodo, along with foot scales, the only soft tissue of a dodo known. Museum across the globe have them but not much is known about where they ended up, how many were made or the ‘social networks’ of scientists who re-gifted, exchanged and presented casts to each other. For the duration of the display, we’re encouraging museums, universities and individuals who may have a cast to send information in to try to create a better historical map of the flight path of the many dodo casts across the world.

Lastly on my own blog, I’ve added an exhibitions section to the about page. As there aren’t staff pages where I work and I find it difficult to keep ResearchGate, LinkedIn etc. etc. up to date the About page is becoming more and more and reminder to myself about everything I’ve done and an easier way to keep information for the CV up to date. People also find it and contact me with work based enquiries so it’s worth having. With the Flight of the Dodo display going up, I realised that I’ve not kept track of displays and exhibitions I’ve worked on. I’ve not added every exhibition I’ve contributed to because that list spirals into the hundreds and loaning an object, co-curating or providing editorial content input isn’t enough to claim responsibility for it. So I’ve chosen to list the ones where I played a significant part in putting them together. Taking the time to think about it, I’d all but forgotten some of them, I’m sure there are one or two more to add as well so it was an exercise well worth doing.


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