26 January 2012

Link roundup, January 2012

Neil Withers has an editorial in Nature Chemistry called “In praise of posters.” I’m particularly grateful for something I’ve wondered about: the origin of poster sessions.

But once upon a time there must have been meetings without posters. So when was the first poster and who came up with the idea? Sadly, it looks as though history (or at least, as it is indexed by Google, Web of Science and other such databases) has not recorded the exact moment for us to celebrate. As far as we can tell, however, the idea originated in Europe, perhaps because the range of languages spoken meant it would be a good idea to have a session where delegates could absorb information in a non-native language at their own pace. The phenomenon was only reported in North America in 1974 at the Biochemistry/Biophysics Meeting in Minneapolis. Not that Americans were slow to embrace the visual, however. The American Chemical Society then introduced poster sessions for the fall national meeting, in Chicago in 1975, a move that resulted in some 41 presentations (take a bow, Divisions of Chemical Education and Inorganic Chemistry). What’s more, the session was seen as a ‘trail blazer.’

The article also has some great links, such as this one, which asks, “What makes a good poster?”, and presents a good case that posters are often superior forms of communication over talks. (And if you look close, you’ll see a cameo appearance by this blog.)

Ed Yong discusses how to make a great conference.

Rig things so that the most passionate people show up.

Arrange everything so that they have nothing to distract them from the business of talking to each other.

Equalise everything.


Colin Purrington said...

I remember my father making a poster in the early 70s for an entomology meeting. I think if Neil had polled a couple hundred old people, he'd have received some data points on US adoption time. My guess is in the 50s.

Paula @ Cheap Brochure Printing said...

I also tried looking for the poster history but I can't find it. Even Google failed to come up with a decent result. Thank you for sharing the article! It's very informative. Will be a big help!