What is SpotOn?


What is Spot On London?

SpotOn stands for Science Policy, Outreach and Tools Online,

The SpotOnLondon event is held every year (in London, UK) and organised by Nature Publishing Group (NPG) who describe SpotOn as “… a series of community events … for the discussion of how science is carried out and communicated online

The conference has been running since 2008, and I was lucky enough to attend in 2012, ’13 & ’14. The two-day event is held over a Friday/Saturday in November.

#SOLO14 is the general hashtag used during the conference  = Science Online LOndon, and the digits refer to the year, after which extensions to the hashtag permit people to tag their media from specific sessions.

Who attends SpotOnLondon?

Conference  delegates range from undergraduate students, to postgraduates and post-docs, to academic readers and lecturers, librarians, editors, journalists, industry representatives, basically anyone who is interested can get a ticket. There are also people who come unaffiliated and just want to know the key issues in todays internet research world.

The first year I attended (2012) there were some noted speakers, Ben Goldacre and Ed Yong, who if you don’t know about already I encourage you to find out via the links.

It doesn’t matter what level you are in your career or even how much you know about a topic because the people at these conferences make the two days a vibrant place full of multiple points of perspective.

Benefits of attending SpotOnLondon

Networking. Of course networking is always on the cards, but you’re within an unusual crowd of people –  They are people you might never have realised work around research/academia or ever got the chance to meet in a friendly open setting.

Understanding more about where your job lies in the grand internet scheme of things. The presentations and discussion topics are far from anything I’ve ever discussed with my supervisors or peers during my PhD or at conferences. It’s good to get some perspective.

It’s inspiring and useful. There are tools you never might knew existed, not to mention the volunteers who move ‘free’-ware you might use or start a hack-session to solve a common problem you might have.

Getting involved. Some collaboration ‘think tanks’  and hacking sessions bare new things and you could contribute, it’s so good to meet people who want to ‘do’ stuff.

Positivity. There is a sense of confidence and positivity and excitement at the conference. The people who attend are genuinely interested and the organisers are so approachable and love it when delegates ask to help out.

Debate about current topics. Everything and anything to do with media and research is discussed and anyone can be involved in the discussions.

Fringe events. A great way to relax and unwind with a new and exciting crowd. I’ve won mugs and portable speakers at science bingo, and watched comedians make jokes about science and being a scientist. The Fringe events start before the conference on the Thursday night and there is another at the end of the first day, on the Friday night. Really good fun.

Ad libitum. I like the way the event becomes very open, so you never really know what is going to happen, which makes for an interesting conference. Put it this way, I’ve never fallen asleep or been bored at SpotOnLondon.

Click here to see what where my highlight of this year’s events and to get the Storify of each of the 9 sessions I attended.



About Dr Jojo Scoble

Freelance Science Communicator. Microbiology PhD Oxon. Fiction Writer. Social Media dilettante. Ideas Factory.
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