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The DOTCOMM model2018-05-30T19:39:05+00:00

THE DOTCOMM MODEL

DOTCOMM events are product-driven meetings for doing science communication, like a storytelling sprint. Participants don’t give a talk or lead a workshop; instead they are tasked with using the hosting institution’s resources to find and tell a story related to the theme of the event. All stories are expected to be made freely available to the public. The kaleidoscope of perspectives created around the event’s theme provides an immersive experience, which allows audiences to interact with the theme of the event in a way that isn’t otherwise possible.

LUMCON wants to push the field of science communication forward by offering a new generation of science communication opportunities that embrace the rapidly-changing digital media landscape and the potential roles of scientific individuals and institutions within it. A key component of this initiative is OCEANDOTCOMM.

The first-ever DOTCOMM event was OCEANDOTCOMM, held in Cocodrie, LA in March 2018 and hosted by LUMCON (hear more about Executive Director Craig McClain’s motivation for putting on the event in this blog post and in these podcasts). OCEANDOTCOMM 2018 was a pilot project showing that the DOTCOMM model successfully generates unique science communication products in a variety of media, encourages participants to expand their science communication knowledge and resources, and creates a tightly-knit science communication community. While analysis of the fifteen OCEANDOTCOMM 2018 products completed so far is ongoing, eight of those pieces have collectively been seen almost 200,000 times and have engagement rates at or above industry averages. Many participants said that the event’s format was their favorite element of OCEANDOTCOMM, describing the product-driven theme as “challenging and intense” and “extremely valuable in that it changed how we expect conferences to work”. This challenge and the diversity of participants led participants to “get out of [their] own head[s]” and “learn new ways to approach SciComm”. All participants agreed that OCEANDOTCOMM is different than other science communication conferences they’ve attended and 86% of OCEANDOTCOMM participants strongly agreed that the event promoted innovation within science communication online.

The DOTCOMM model could easily be adapted for a variety of themes, such as NEURODOTCOMM. Contact our Science Media Officer to be notified of future opportunities or to inquire about hosting a DOTCOMM event.

ATMOSPHERE AND EXPECTATIONS

The theme for a DOTCOMM event isn’t revealed until participants arrive on-site. This mystery reveal ensures that participants approach the theme and their creations with as few preconceptions as possible, getting to know a theme from experts during the event rather than forming opinions before arrival based on what’s already been published about a topic.

This element of surprise also encourages participants to get involved with projects and media that they might not normally work with. It’s a controlled, structured disruption that prevents participants from planning their project and contributions ahead of time.

It takes a certain type of personality and group dynamic to embrace such a challenge, so great care is taken when accepting DOTCOMM participants. Diverse voices create diverse products, so DOTCOMM events seek out communicators to be participants who may not be experts in the event theme they’ll be working with. The DOTCOMM model allows participants to form their own working groups, so participants can contribute their specific expertise to as many projects and in whatever way they like.

Participants are primed to embrace the adventure of a DOTCOMM event from the moment they are invited to attend the event. Acceptances are written to convey the spirit of adventure inherent in the meeting. Participants are encouraged to form a community before arrival using social media spaces created specifically for the event.

STRUCTURE

DOTCOMM events begin with icebreakers and the theme reveal the night participants arrive. The next morning, participants receive a primer on the theme from experts, which come from all walks of life. For example, a business owner, bus driver, or blue-collar worker with no advanced degrees may be an expert on what locals think about an issue and how they are responding to it.

Ideally, experts will be available as participants begin researching the event’s theme, or even throughout the entire event. The next few days are devoted to a combination of pre-planned exploratory opportunities and unstructured time for participants to create. The event closes with participants presenting their progress to each other for feedback.

Click here to see a sample agenda (from OCEANDOTCOMM 2018).

OUTCOMES

DOTCOMM events have three types of outcomes for participants:

Every DOTCOMM participant is expected to contribute to a product to be completed during the event. If products are not finished when the event concludes, then participants are expected to pursue publication after they return home.

  • Knowledge and resource exchange

DOTCOMM events naturally build science communication capacity. Passionate communicators selected for their sense of adventure and to build a diverse group of experts will learn from each other as they experience the event together.

  • Community creation

Participants get to know each other before they arrive on-site. The DOTCOMM event is a unique shared experience that will keep them talking and working together after the event concludes.