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Re: Public engagement in space - Science is Awesome

nova1021 posting in Creativity+Fun+Science=Good
User: sciencesquad (posted by nova1021)
Date: 2006-10-28 12:16
Subject: Re: Public engagement in space
Security: Public
This is a summary of the main points of a presentation made by Bob Rogers to the Mars Mission Architecture team back in '98 when they were trying to come up with a plan to get samples returned from mars. Bob Rogers is the founder of BRC Imagination Arts, a company that specializes in designing theme parks, museums, world's fair pavilions and the like. A lot of the advice carries over to our goal of getting the public engaged in science. I will try to tweak the details so that they apply to us.

Benefits of Public interest (or: What to tell other scientists about why this is a good thing to do)

1.Public support -> Political support -> funding!
2."It's nice to be part of something famous"
3.Attract new people to science
4.Increased spin control in case of something bad happening (not applicable for us)
5.Building the psychological highway to space (not directly applicable, though cool)


****USE STORY****
"In the history of humankind only two things have ever changed people: direct personal experience and story."

Story is not:
a lie
a falshood
strictly for children

Story is:
"Stories and myths are a deeper level of human truth, by which we explain the world and our place in it to ourselves."

Notable users of storytelling:
The Old Testament
The Koran
Abraham Lincoln
every advertiser ever

***The Classic Story Formula***
Empathetic or engaging characters are frustrated in their attempts to achieve a clear goal.

Step 1. Empathetic or engaging characters
*Personalities are far more interesting than anything

Personalities are far more interesting that the science, the planets, the engineering, etc...

***Create empathetic and engaging characters to tell your story***

Step 2. Frustrated
-not immediately successful
-shows emotions
-builds suspense

Step 3. In their attempts to achieve a clear goal
-the exact benefit of the goal is *unimportant*
As long as the goal is important to the characters, the audience will follow the story.
Use the MacGuffin, coined by Hitchcock.

Keep it simple.
Use archetypes (think Far Side cartoons)
"If you have seen it many times before and you don't like it, it's a stereotype. If you do like it, it's an archetype"
(this is a tricky area for us... need to decide how simple to make it and what sort of image to project as scientists)

Stretch it out... (this applies to our possibility of having multiple you-tube episodes, for example)
"create a story that can unfold in a series of revelations, each leading to a next question. [sounds like science to me...] The end of each step is always, "What will happen not that...? or "What will he/she do, now that....?"

End each revelation with questions the audience understands and cares about. (a.k.a. always tie what we're talking about to the big picture)

Ok, those are some of the points from the presentation. Not all are directly applicable, but I tried to pick stuff that we should at least think about. How much of a story can we tell? How much do we simplify (aka who is our target audience)? Things like that.

I figured we can use this as a place to start talking. We need to define what we want to do and what we are capable of doing first, then get down to the details.

Ok, discuss!
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June 2007