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The Role of Fiction in Science (A Discussion)

ewashburn's picture

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I worked with ckosarek, katlittrell, and rachelr on a Facebook page and a Tumblr, exploring and discussing the role of fiction in science. On our public Facebook page, we posted articles and videos that we thought were interesting, and commented or “liked” each other’s posts. Because the page was public, those articles and videos were also available for others who had “liked” our page to explore. Our Tumblr was where we posted our more serious writings. Each of us posted five entries exploring what we found interesting about our question, and reacting to what the others found interesting.

This project was designed to create a real academic conversation, a discursive discussion as opposed to a didactic essay. Each of us tried to bounce off the others’ statements, sometimes concurring, sometimes contradicting, but always trying to keep it a conversation. With regards to the effectiveness of that conversation, I, like ckosarek, worried that our Facebook page became too similar to the Serendip forum, making our discussion more connected to the class as opposed to an independent expedition. In addition, our exploration into social media was a little more lackluster than I think we hoped for. Our Facebook page has 25 “likes,” four of which are from our own Facebook accounts, and only one person independent of the project posted on the page itself. Our Tumblr was more successful, with 7 followers, 5 of whom were, as ckosarek put it, not solicited to “follow.”

On a personal note, I tried to use the Tumblr to continue exploring online writing. I linked back to articles posted on the Facebook page, to previous Tumblr posts, and to various websites. I also tried to continue utilizing images, punctuating my essay with pictures I felt were pertinent to the topic and that illustrated my argument. However, as I addressed in my final post, I tended to polarize the fields of fiction and science, as opposed to discussing their interconnections and interactions. I also struggled to find time for weekly postings, a struggle that was reflected in my reactive role on the Facebook page. If I were to continue working on this project, I would try to be more proactive in finding articles and videos, as opposed to just commenting on what the others posted.

Overall, though, I think our project was successful. We could have been more interactive and we could have had more of a discussion, but I think our collective essay spans disciplines and discussion. Looking over our posts, it’s easy to see how we’ve influenced each other’s thinking, and it’s remarkable to trace the evolution of our discussion from ckosarek’s first Tumblr post of solid text to our most recent posts filled with images and links. I hope you find it as interesting to explore our project as I found it while creating it.