It’s drum roll time as we’re finally to pull back the metaphorical curtain and share the details of the programme for this year’s Science Online London. Like last year, we’re planning two full days of activities plus fringe events but we’ve decided to refresh the format a little with the intention of giving everyone the chance to actively participate and take home some valuable new practical skills.

On Friday the format will be familiar, although the conversations will be fresh. We’re pleased to welcome Michael Nielsen who will be giving the day’s keynote on the topic of Open Science. If you’ve seen Michael’s TED talk, you’ll know we’re in for some thought-provoking ideas on how to shake-up how science is carried out. Continuing the discussions, we’ll then host a panel debate on how to engage with peer-reviewed literature. We’ll use the example of the online activity that followed the publication of the #arseniclife Science paper last year as a starting point, before widening into a broader discussion. Contributions from Rosie RedfieldEd Yong (TBC), Ivan Oransky and Jonathan Eisen will help shape the debate. Our second panel of the day, moderated by Cameron Neylon, will be on incentives – “the carrot and stick problem” – exploring how science is measured and rewarded, and what opportunities the digital age presents us as researchers, funders and science communicators. Panel members will be announced soon.

The largest chunk of the day, however, is dedicated to breakout sessions based on suggestions from you all, the participants. We have 12 break-out slots (three blocks of four sessions, running concurrently) to be decided via the wiki. If you’ve got a suggestion for an interesting topic for discussion, or maybe even want to do some hands-on demos with others working on similarly-themes projects, please add your ideas to the wiki. We’ll then pool all the suggestions into some common areas so that we get as broad a range of options as possible, while avoiding scheduling conflicts. Please don’t be disappointed if you don’t make the final cut as 12 slots is not a lot. Because we would also love to hear from some new voices why not try using the wiki as a way of teaming up with other people in your area to create something extra-special?

On Saturday, we deviate from the familiar to try something new: hands-on workshops to give everyone the chance to learn new skills and improve existing ones. We’ll start the day with a panel moderated by Kaitlin Thaney discussing how we are facing new challenges when dealing with data and discussions online. The panel will feature a number of different perspectives, from working with data in media to genomics. We’re fortunate to have Alastair Dant from The Guardian and Tim Hubbard from the Sanger Institute. More panellists to be announced in the coming weeks, as well.

Having hopefully framed why we all need to pack our personal tool boxes with a range of online skills, we’ll then hear from MaryAnn Martone of the Spinal Muscular Atrophy Foundation who will be introducing our theme for the day, around which all of the workshops will be loosely focused. The rest of the day will be divided into two 90 minute workshop sessions where attendees can choose from 4 options; data visualization, beyond scholarly publishing, online communication tools and dealing with data using Synapse. Each workshop will be led by experts in their fields, and are intended to be interactive, so don’t forget to bring your laptop to participate fully. You can start a session in the morning and then either stay on for an advanced version after lunch or swop rooms to learn a second skill. We’ll all reconvene at the end of the day to share the output of our synchronised hacking.

We hope you’re as excited about the programme as we are and look forward to reading your suggestions on the wiki.

Lou, Martin and Kaitlin