EurekAlert: New book to help improve science communication in Africa is now available. “Script’s new book aimed at helping to improve the communication of science in Africa has now been published. The book is available for free electronically and to buy in paperback in the CABI Digital Library. ‘Science Communication Skills for Journalists: A Resource Book for Universities in Africa,’ is edited and authored by Dr Charles Wendo.”
Science Daily: Underwater messaging app for smartphones. “Researchers have developed AquaApp, a mobile app for acoustic-based communication and networking underwater that can be used with existing devices such as smartphones and smartwatches.”
New York Times: The Animal Translators. “Machine-learning systems, which use algorithms to detect patterns in large collections of data, have excelled at analyzing human language, giving rise to voice assistants that recognize speech, transcription software that converts speech to text and digital tools that translate between human languages. In recent years, scientists have begun deploying this technology to decode animal communication, using machine-learning algorithms to identify when squeaking mice are stressed or why fruit bats are shouting.”
CNN: A Texas teen couldn’t speak with his sister, so he created an app to give her a voice. “Archer Calder spent his childhood unable to talk with his younger sister, Della, his only sibling. Della has Bainbridge-Ropers syndrome, a rare genetic condition which affects her ability to eat, move and speak…. Archer began using his coding abilities to develop a web-based application called Freespeech. The site can be accessed from any device — phones, tablets and computers — with internet access. The simple website lets users program buttons with images of their choice to represent words. When clicked, the word is sounded out loud.”
A new resource from my friend Laura, who does the excellent Environmental News Bits. From the University of Illinois Library: Communicating Science: Home. “A beginner’s guide for Prairie Research Institute researchers to learn how to effectively communicate their science.” Some of the materials are specific to the university, but most of it is open. Good stuff and lots of it.
ScienceDaily: Brain computer interface turns mental handwriting into text on screen. “For the first time, researchers have deciphered the brain activity associated with trying to write letters by hand. Working with a participant with paralysis who has sensors implanted in his brain, the team used an algorithm to identify letters as he attempted to write them. Then, the system displayed the text on a screen — in real time.”
New York Times: Tone Is Hard to Grasp Online. Can Tone Indicators Help?. “In a famous study, Albert Mehrabian, a psychology professor at U.C.L.A., found that humans tend to perceive only a fragment of a speaker’s meaning through spoken words. Instead, he observed, most meaning is gleaned from body language and tone of voice. In a text-only environment, how can we ever be certain other people understand what we mean when we post online? Enter tone indicators.”
KING5: Former Amazon engineer creates app that reportedly translates your cat’s meows. “A former Amazon engineer who worked on Alexa has unveiled his latest pet project: an app that translates your cat’s meow. Javier Sanchez is now a project manager with Bellevue-based tech company Akvelon and has developed MeowTalk — an app that reportedly translates what your cat is vocalizing.” I dreamed several years ago that I got a potion from a wizard that let me understand what my cat was saying. After I drank it, my cat followed me around for the rest of the dream asking if I had Prince Albert in a can.
Chemical & Engineering News: We’re all science communicators. Here’s how to do it better. “Our situation comes with innumerable challenges. However, it also provides an opportunity for scientists to make a powerful contribution to society and demonstrate the value of science education. Whether or not you are engaging in research directly related to COVID-19, you can help those around you separate facts from myths, interpret the data that are available, and make better-informed decisions.”
ZDNet: AI can now read the thoughts of paralysed patients as they imagine they are writing. “Handwriting is becoming a rare skill in the digital age. But researchers have now discovered a new application that could significantly improve the way tetraplegic people, who are often also unable to speak, communicate with the outside world.”
Phys .org: Research explores ways to bridge gaps in science communication. “‘Give me a break!’ ‘Fake News!’ ‘Blah Blah Blah…’ These retorts are symptoms of a fundamental problem in science communication—new research from the Tepper School of Business shows that when we hear something that doesn’t make sense to us, it’s much easier to respond with derision than to work to understand what is being said. It’s difficult to bridge these gaps in understanding because they are driven by fundamental differences in values, perspectives, and knowledge bases. It means that debates escalate into arguments unless people work to build trust, respect, and common ground.”
NN/LM Training Office: 2 Backchannel Discussion Tools for Librarians. “Backchannels have been around for awhile. A 2010 Educause 7 Things You Should Know About Backchannel Communication called them ‘a secondary electronic conversation that takes place at the same time as a conference session, lecture, or instructor-led learning activity.’ Backchannels provide a space for real time conversation, alongside the primary activity. Twitter is an example of a backchannel. Here’s two more backchannel tools you might find useful.” Short article, but a neglected resource.