Science dissemination goes Old Skool

Mar 05 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

I've always been interested in alternative methods of communication and dissemination of information. When I was a kid I was always into making pamphlets which could be reproduced and handed out. I lusted over mimeograph machines and photocopiers and used up scads of carbon paper to make my little pamphlets. Later when I got a computer and dot-matrix printer things got easier, but not quite as fun. Obviously now with the web, anyone can easily shoot out as much information as they want to an unlimited audience. One of my interests is how to use these tools, in my case in the form of a blog, to disseminate scientific and other information. While some of these newer media I think are effective (like science blogs), other I think have a more limited usefulness (see recent discussion about social media and science). But today, I wanted to introduce a decidedly old school way of disseminating and communicating science.

Recently I came across the website of the Small Science Collective. The site is maintained  by Andrew Yang at the Art Institute of Chicago and hosts a collection of contributed small science 'zines which you can download, print, fold and distribute. For those of you who don't know, a zine is a self-published work which is typically reproduced by photocopier and is locally circulated. Sort of like a home-made magazine. Anyway, the zines in in the Small Science Collective are designed to fit in one printed page and then folded to make a small little pamphlet. They encompass a broad variety of science topics ranging from pigeons, to fly genetics, to evolution, to the digestive system, to ants, to genetically-modified foods.  Most of them are hand-drawn and submitted by random folks, and are really cool. The idea is that you pick some of the ones you like, print and copy them, fold them and just randomly leave them in public places, such as coffee shops, bus stops, whatever. Also, you can make and submit your own science zine to the site (here are instructions on how to make one).

I just think this is such a great idea. It seems like it would be a lot of fun to make one and even more fun and informative to randomly find one. Maybe we should have a Scientopia zine event, where bloggers and readers pull out their paper and pencils (or whatever your favorite artistic medium is) and we should design zines on our favorite scientific topics. Bloggers could even take their favorite posts and turn them into zine form. In any case, take a look at the Small Science Collective I'm sure you'll find it cool.

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