Staying Informed

This blog started as a strictly science blog. The longer I’ve been out of academia, however, the farther I feel from science, which means I write about other topics, too: books, writing, mental health, women in science, and gardening, to name a few.

I write about what interests me, and a lot of it is related to content I come across on the web. But I don’t just get random online information. I try to be specific about what I want to learn about, so I can make the most of the firehose of information that is the internet.

This requires, however, that I sit down every so often and review what topics I’m *really* interested in so I can ensure I’m using online resources most effectively, and so I get the information I need and want to support my learning and writing.

I use several tools to get information, including signing up to media updates, newspaper subscriptions, online newsletters, and being a member of specific organizations. I also use Twitter, and Facebook groups, to keep up with science and writing news and ideas.

I get media updates from the Science Media Centre of Canada to keep up to date on science news with a Canadian angle. I also have a subscription to The Washington Post for their good environmental coverage, which jives with my interest in quality environmental science writing.

I’ve signed up to several newsletters on various topics: science writing, creative nonfiction, freelancing, science art. However, their content is critical to whether or not I keep my subscription. For example, I recently signed up for a newsletter about science art, and while it’s an interesting topic the newsletter itself wasn’t that great, so I’ve unsubscribed. I had also signed up to two writing newsletters, but they don’t engage me so much as clog up my inbox, so I’ve unsubscribed from them as well.

One of my favourite new newsletters is about the science writing aspect of science communication, and is  put together by Marianna Limas. Another favourite is the artist Austin Kleon’s newsletter, which always has at least one tidbit that interests me. I’m also keen on post-apocalyptic and climate fiction, so I subscribe to Amy Brady’s (@ingredient_x on Twitter) newsletter Burning Worlds, and read her column at LitHub where she shares the latest books on the subject. To keep up with new books (usually in the nature/environment field), I get LitHub’s weekly BookMarks reviews newsletter, and also get LitHub’s weekly newsletter to keep up to date on reviews of new literature published in a range of outlets.

In terms of memberships, I’m a member of the Council of Science Editors, which focuses on science communication through editing. Their newsletter is a fabulous resource for the science writer and editor, and they have excellent professional development resources. I’m also a member of the Federation of BC Writers, which sends out a bimonthly magazine. And as an alumni of the University of Alberta, I get both their alumni magazine and their Faculty of Science magazine, both of which are very well done and a pleasure to read.

My use of Twitter is not as refined as my use of other resources. I’m fascinated by a range of perspectives and so, while I follow scientists and reporters, I also follow writers and artists, editors and publishers, Merriam Webster (of course), and more. I sip from the firehose at random moments throughout the day so – while there’s likely a lot I miss – I do run across a lot of interesting stories and information that I wouldn’t get otherwise.

On Facebook I’m a member of a number of writing groups, for creative nonfiction and science writing in particular. These are useful for sharing pitching and publishing tips, and for meeting people who are interested in similar topics.

Notice I don’t do podcasts or YouTube – for some reason I can’t sit and watch or listen to something – I prefer to read it or do something else.

Of course, after taking in all this information it’s time to generate new ideas and get some writing done! Working in the garden and walking are some of my favourite ways to digest what I’ve been reading and mull over how it connects with what I’ve been thinking about recently. I spent yesterday in the garden and it was hugely helpful for getting my mind going while my hands were weeding and pulling out plants. Now that I am almost recovered from an ankle sprain back in September I should be able to start walking again, and hopefully threading ideas together as I walk. I’ll have no shortage of inputs!

1 thought on “Staying Informed”

  1. I’m the same about podcasts and videos. Can not, will not, have anything to do with them—my least favourite mediums of choice.

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