Geology and social media

Finally – after several attempts to attract the interest of Stockholm University’s communication office for our film projects, they made a move! Last week they sent Jon Buscall, a media consultant, over to make an interview with me. We talked about the Thailand fieldwork films, which we had made in collaboration with Plastic Buddha Productions, the trailers documenting our field trips to Islay and Iceland, and the upcoming film about our department. We also discussed the necessity for outreach and the use of social media to attract new students, and to inform the public about research and teaching; and how I became involved in making and commissioning videos.
Since I started ‘my’ film projects in early 2010, I have had many different responses, ranging from “what a great idea to show what you and your colleagues are doing”, “finally I understand much better what your research is about and why you are digging in lakes”, “great films, great pictures”, to “do you really need to show off”, “we have no need to expose ourselves like that”, “you really seem to fancy seeing yourself in a movie”, and “contacts with media are dangerous”.
I certainly do not want to show off and I do not fancy seeing myself in a video and hearing myself talking. What I would like to do is providing a means so that other people outside my/our research field can understand how we work, why we do these strange things, and what our research is all about. I would also like people to get a feeling for what geology is, how important our field is, and how geology can actually contribute to society and meet societal needs.
For many, geology is something fairly abstract; most people know about fossils and rocks, but not so many know that geology is so much broader and that it addresses natural hazards (earthquakes, tsunamis, sea level changes, volcanoes), natural resources, climate change, Earth’s history, and much, much more. Providing moving pictures for fairly abstract topics, seeing real scientists in action and explaining in simple words what they are doing, why, where and how, is in my opinion the perfect way to get a message through.
A side effect of my engagement with the ‘film business’ is that I had the possibility to see and better understand how filming and journalism works. I have learned how the person behind the camera looks at things, how a film needs to be scripted, how interviews need to be constructed, how one needs to think along a story line, and how scientists need to communicate to be understood.
Media and social media are nothing dangerous, but they are, if handled in a responsible way, a perfect means to get a message through, and to make thousands and millions of people all around the globe aware of what we are up to.
Maybe you haven’t seen our films yet? Then I suggest having a look at Geological Sciences Youtube Channel!

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