Science Online announced its dissolution yesterday. This makes me sad; I learned a lot from this conference. However, I am not surprised at this outcome.
Science Online 2014 failed to attract a number of professional writers that attended earlier versions of the unconference. I learned a lot from these people, especially about the craft and tools of writing. As a physician-scientist, I had reasonable writing skills, but little knowledge of the nuts and bolts of publishing.
- The response of the organization to the scandal of 2013 was tone-deaf at best. Many of us at the 2014 conference were disturbed by this response.
- I was disappointed in 2014 that no sessions featured medical or health related topics; for 2015, they selected no topics in advance. I was not willing to send in the bucks when it was not clear what was on the program.
- Frankly, they lost my participation when they announced Atlanta as the 2015 location. I had just been to a meeting in that city, and I had no interest in returning anytime soon. I really, really hate that airport as well.
- The writing was on the wall when the conference failed to fill this fall. In the past, slots were gone within minutes of opening. When I read the list of participants a month ago, I saw none of the regulars who might have convinced me to go, including the writers I had met and learned from at earlier events. The group always needed to include new blood, but a cadre of prior participants with institutional memory really made things flow.
These events are bittersweet; one could argue that the book I published this week would not have happened with the information and insights gleaned at Science Online. I will miss the people I met along the way.