From the Editor’s Desk: The Future of Deep-Sea News

If they know it, they will love it. If they love it, they will protect it.

My wife, with over a decade of nonprofit experience, spoke those words to me six years ago .  She was describing how she viewed what I was striving for with Deep-Sea News. Those words still ring true to me.

You may notice a different feel here at DSN. The banner is new. The website is sleeker. The new DSN Giant Squid logo brands our Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and our forthcoming YouTube page. But the facelift and consistent image represent more than just cosmetics. A new and exciting path lies ahead for Deep-Sea News. But not DSN the blog. Rather DSN the community including you our readers, commenters, and participants, along with us.

The end of October brought the first DSN retreat. All six of us bloggers here at DSN converged on Atlanta*. What happens when six ocean bloggers assemble in a single location? Of course, there is now a little less C2H6O in Atlanta but the city still stands so I consider it a win for everyone. Besides the expected festivities, something significant and exhilarating emerged from our three days together.

We realized our collective passion, experience, and backgrounds in science and outreach can be leveraged for grand endeavors. Likewise, we recognized that DSN is a conduit in which many voices, beyond just us, sound. Jointly, we can accomplish more and illuminate a new pathway for dialogue about the oceans and ocean science.

With these realizations, we sought to define the purpose of DSN. What have we tried to accomplish for the last six years? What does success in the next six years look like?  Within an hour sitting around a board room table in the basement of the Georgia Aquarium (cue evil laugh, bwahahahaha), we produced DSN’s first mission statement.

Demystifying and humanizing science in an open conversation that instills passion, awe, and responsibility for the oceans.

With this in place, we crafted a set of eight core values that will form the foundation on which we perform and conduct ourselves.  Indeed, we believe these eight values are vital for success in realizing our mission.  In the next few weeks, we will be posting a series of essays that expand on these core values and discusses their relevancy to all scientific communication and outreach.

  1. Direct from the bench and the trench. We believe in directly communicating science to the public without barriers and intermediaries.
  2. Saying things others do not. We will move the conversation forward by providing ocean science content from the obscure to the controversial.
  3. Reverently irreverent. We will be true to who we are in real life, leveraging humor to keep the science dialogue informal and accessible.
  4. Promoting ocean literacy. We will help the public make informed and responsible decisions regarding the ocean and its resources by interpreting the essential principles and fundamental concepts of ocean science.
  5. Perspective through a plurality of voices. We believe the conversation between the public and science should not be one way. Vision, growth, and intelligent progress can only come through an open conversation that includes all stakeholders. We strive to provide a platform for diverse voices to be heard.
  6. Awareness through scrutiny, not negativity. We believe that a critical assessment of ongoing ocean issues and science is vital, but that open conversation is hindered by negativity. We will strive to be professional, diplomatic, empathetic, and rational in our evaluation.
  7. Expanding the culture of ocean science. The ocean and our lives as scientists are part of the larger fabric of human culture. We will highlight areas where the ocean touches our society, and seek to provide a window into our lives both as scientists and a member of the public embedded in ocean culture. We will strive for a future that allows for scientists and the public to be partnering stakeholders in sustaining and preserving our oceans.
  8. Call to Action. We believe that an open dialogue is just the first step, and seek to turn words into action.

How does this translate into tangibles for DSN’s future?

I am reminded of the words of Arthur Clarke, “How inappropriate to call this planet Earth when it is quite clearly Ocean.”  In one part I hope that in our future it will not be awkward or trite to refer to this as planet Ocean.

Our vision of the future is

  • a public craving ocean exploration and knowledge,
  • ocean scientists eager to be the guides for both, 
  • resulting in a global commitment for protection and restoration of our oceans.

In this,

Deep-Sea News will become a leader of an open conversation about ocean science both on and offline. Our five-year goals aim to rejuvenate our blogging core, integrate our social media, and leverage our knowledge and experience to expand into on- and off-line opportunities.

Specifics are forthcoming so keep your eye on DSN as there will be a variety of ways for you to participate both online and offline!  Your first task is to engage in the dialogue through commenting on the set of upcoming posts detailing our core values. My hope is that this series generates excitement as we share our vision and jointly establish a new path.

*Special thanks goes to our gracious host the Georgia Aquarium, the Coral Reef Alliance for lodging, and AirTran for covering travel.

Dr. M (1618 Posts)

Craig McClain is the Assistant Director of Science for the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center, created to facilitate research to address fundamental questions in evolutionary science. He has conducted deep-sea research for 11 years and published over 40 papers in the area. He has participated in dozens of expeditions taking him to the Antarctic and the most remote regions of the Pacific and Atlantic. Craig’s research focuses mainly on marine systems and particularly the biology of body size, biodiversity, and energy flow. He focuses often on deep-sea systems as a natural test of the consequences of energy limitation on biological systems. He is the author and chief editor of Deep-Sea News, a popular deep-sea themed blog, rated the number one ocean blog on the web and winner of numerous awards. Craig’s popular writing has been featured in Cosmos, Science Illustrated, American Scientist, Wired, Mental Floss, and the Open Lab: The Best Science Writing on the Web.





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12 comments on “From the Editor’s Desk: The Future of Deep-Sea News
  1. Nice moves, gang. I like the endeavour.

    In the spirit of constructive engagement, I challenge the vision

    Our vision of the future is

    a public craving ocean exploration and knowledge,
    ocean scientists eager to be the guides for both,
    resulting in a global commitment for protection and restoration of our oceans.

    From my experience as a scieintist and advocate, I don’t think 1 and 2 result in 3. Sorry. I think this needs some additional thought on how to get from 1 and 2 to 3. I think there are one or two more steps in between. I have ideas for what they are, but I’d rather hear your ideas first. Do you really think 1 and 2 result in 3??

    Regardless of what I think, you could be right and you’re certainly going to have fun finding out (and so are we, your faithful followers).
    Mark

  2. Congrats, folks. I look forward to supporting in whatever capacity I can, even if my critters remain epipelagic!

  3. Hooray! Thanks for taking the time to get together and hash out a vision. Very much looking forward to participating in your grand future.

    Keep letting us know how we can help.

  4. This is exciting! Very impressed that you all have taken the time to think and plan and gain perspective.

    I must also praise your choice of mascot. It is, truly, a magnificent pirate squid.

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