Thursday, 5 June 2014

How scientists are expressing their research visually and what it means for audiences

I have the good fortune to be associated with PRBB's "Intervals" program, one of the most exciting and innovative initiatives helping scientists communicate what they are doing in unique and more effective ways for their peers and audiences outside science.

Recently I was back in Barcelona at the PRBB to see what researchers have come up with. In an Intervals workshop on "Visual Science" the scientists were asked simply to express any aspect of their research visually, any way they wanted to. 

Check out some of these "visual expressions" of their research.

"Cooperative bacteria" by Marçal Gabaldà

"How important is the integrity of the brain?" by Elk Kossatz

"Splicing comics" by Babita Singh

"Diet Karma" by Marcos Francisco Perez

These beautiful and provocative results point to one of the more interesting trends in the use of visual language to express complex ideas. 

Each of the researchers created these visual expressions using tools readily available on the internet and open-source software. 

It's not only that new technologies are making these types of expressions possible; it's that the people who are creating them are clearly more fluent in how to express ideas visually. That of course implies their target audiences are, too, and are more receptive to having complex ideas expressed this way.