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Exchanges: 10 years of essays on scientific communication

Between 1998 and 2011, I contributed a series of more than 60 articles to the Exchange, newsletter of the Scientific Communication Special Interest Group (SIG) of the Society for Technical Communication (STC). For more than 10 of those years, I edited the newsletter.

In this book, I’ve gathered more than 50 of these articles together, supplemented by relevant articles on scientific communication that appeared elsewhere. Each articles is followed by an afterword that summarizes how my opinions have changed since the article first appeared or any new thoughts inspired by looking back at the articles.

This Web page contains the following information:

Description of the book

Nothing could be more important to a communicator than understanding the metamorphosis that occurs between the printed (or online or spoken) word and its representation in someone’s thoughts, and the articles in this collection cover many aspects of this topic, including:

The newsletter title included the word “exchange” as a deliberate pun. First, it was a reference to the chemical process symbolized by the double arrows of the book's cover illustration:

Two-way arrows for chemical reaction

In a chemical reaction, the compounds on one side of the arrows combine to form the compounds on the other side, but under the right conditions, the reaction can proceed in reverse, thereby regenerating the original reagents. The second meaning relates to the goal of the newsletter’s founders: to stimulate an exchange of ideas, hopefully with the same transformative effects on those who participated in the exchange as occurs in a chemical reaction. The resulting back-and-forth neatly parallels the flow of ideas that occurs during communication between two or more individuals, and how sometimes one’s mind changes back to its original condition.

Buy the book

The book is now available for purchase in the following formats:

Web pages cited in the book

Because links rot and Web pages come and go, I decided to include the original Web addresses in the book, but link them to this page so that I could easily update any links that changed. That's more convenient than having to issue a revised version of the book each time links change. (Note: If a link on this page breaks, please contact me to report the break so that I can fix it and benefit all readers of the book.) Apart from the first link (to my overall bibliography), all links are listed in alphabetical order for ease of reference.

Original versions of the articles

A

Akademisyen catalog of journal style guidelines

Alan Sokal: see Sokal, Alan

American Association for the Advancement of Science

American Chemical Society

B

Bogo Vatovec: see Vatovec, Bogo

Bones (TV show)

C

Car fuel consumption (in Europe)

CBC News:

2006: 'CSI effect' adds drama to real-life crime solving

2006: Neurologists pan movie portrayals of comas

China's Gobi Desert

Confidence interval

Cosmic acceleration

CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (TV show)

Czerneda, Julie:

No Limits project

Personal Web site

Cunningham, Darryl: cartoon about whether vaccines cause autism

D

Dark matter

Darryl Cunningham: see Cunningham, Darryl

D.C. Science Writers Association

Dichotomous keys

E

Elsevier

G

Geoff Hart: see Hart, Geoff

Ginny Redish: see Redish, Ginny

Google Groups

H

Hart, Geoff:

Blog

Bridging the gap between cultural studies theory and the world of the working practitioner

Effective Onscreen Editing

The style guide is dead: long live the dynamic style guide

Hofmann, Patrick

House, MD (TV show)

HTML Dog

I

Indiana University's Evolution and the Nature of Science Institutes

J

Julie Czerneda: see Czerneda, Julie

K

Kennedy's moon speech

L

Linux documentation

M

Michael Wesch: see Wesch, Michael

N

National Association of Science Writers

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health

National Public Radio

National Research Council:

Canada

National Research Council of Canada press

U.S.

New Scientist article "Viagra gives wildlife a boost"

NIH. 2005. NIH calls on scientists to speed public release of research publications.

O

Olympus Mons

Open source software

Outliers

P

Patrick Hofmann: see Hofmann, Patrick

Peak oil

Penicillin

Phylocode

Placebo-controlled trials

"Polite Dissent" reviews of House, M.D.

Project 2061

Public Broadcasting Service

Q

Quincy (TV show)

R

Rashomon (Kurosawa film)

Redish, Ginny:

Book, Letting Go of the Words

Personal Web site

Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider statement on black holes

Richard Saul Wurman: see Wurman, Richard Saul

S

Science House

Scientific American:

Rennie article on creation myths

Simon Singh: see Singh, Simon

Sing About Science and Math

Singh, Simon:

Book list

Fermat's Last Theorem

Personal Web site

Society for Technical Communication (STC)

Intercom magazine

Scientific Communication special interest group

Sokal, Alan:

Personal Web site

Site describing the Social Text hoax

Statistical significance

T

techwr-l (techwhirl) discussion group for technical communicators

the Exchange:

Archives (to read quotations)

Issue 8(3)

U

Uniform requirements for manuscripts submitted to biomedical journals

Union of Concerned Scientists

Advocacy resource ("take action") page

Union of Concerned Scientists. 2004. Restoring scientific integrity.

U.S. Department of Energy network of national and other laboratories

Utah's Bonneville Salt Flats

V

Valles Marineris

Vatovec, Bogo

W

Wesch, Michael: The Machine is Us/ing Us

Writing World

Wurman, Richard Saul

X

XKCD comic strip about the Gulf of Mexico oil spill disaster

Y

Yahoo Groups


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