So that you can get to know the organisers behind this year’s conference, we’ll be hosting an interview with each of them on this blog. This week we start with Martin Fenner, who has been involved with Science Online London from its beginnings in 2008.
Tell us a bit about yourself – where on the path are you and where are you currently headed? Why did you decide to pick that route?
I work as a clinical fellow in oncology at Hannover Medical School in Germany. In this position I care for patients with cancer, and I also do research work. My focus is the care of patients with urologic cancers, in particular testicular cancer. I also help organize our comprehensive cancer center. The management of patients with cancer is a multi-disciplinary effort – this can be both a big challenge, but also very rewarding. My plan is to continue work in that direction.
Tell us a bit more about any interesting previous projects you’ve worked on.
I’ve done a few things over the years. One of the most interesting projects has been the post-doc I did in tumor genetics in Boston. We cloned and characterized a new gene that we thought would be involved in the metastatic process of malignant melanoma. All this work was done before the human and mouse genomes were completely sequenced, and it took us months what now can be done in a few days. Not only did I learn a lot about molecular biology and cancer, but I also met my wife.
As a little side project I worked as “Assistant System Operator” for the MacUser Forum on the CompuServe network. This was in the mid-1990s, and the Internet was still in its infancy. I started with rates of $22 per hour for a 9,600 baud connection – the trick was to be as quick as possible when going online and we had special software to help us with that. The “Assistant Sysop” job didn’t pay any money, but gave me free online time. I also learned some of the basic rules of managing online communities.
How “online” is your day-to-day life? Is there anything specific online that you wouldn’t like to live without e.g. favourite tools, blogs or websites?
My day-to-day life is very much online. I couldn’t live without blogs, Twitter and FriendFeed. Some of my favorite blogs are listed on the blogroll on my website. I also use Facebook, but it is far less important to me on a daily basis. And there is a long list of other online tools I use regularly, and that list is changing constantly.
Do you write a blog yourself?
Yes I do. I write the blog Gobbledygook. It started in August 2007 as a blog on Nature Network, in September 2010 the blog moved to the newly launched PLoS Blogs Network. The topic of my blog is scholarly communication, broad enough to allow me to write about a variety of interesting topics.
How did you get involved with Science Online London?
I started blogging at Nature Network in August 2007, and attended the first Science Online London conference in 2008. In the first year the conference was still called Science Blogging London, and it was very much a reunion of Nature Network bloggers and friends.The following year the format was changed a little bit and Corie Lok from Nature Network asked a few people whether they wanted to get involved. This is how Richard Grant (Faculty of 1000), Victor Henning (Mendeley) and myself helped Corie and Matt Brown (and many others) with the 2009 conference.
What was the best bit about last year’s conference?
Many things. Probably that you spend many months organizing a conference and then see that it all falls into place. And the many small conversations before, after and in between sessions.
What are you most looking forward to about this year’s conference?
I’m most excited about the new workshop format. In addition to keynotes, plenary and breakout sessions we want to do beginner and advanced sessions that teach a few tricks on how to do online science. I will help with a workshop on “Scholarly HTML”, and this includes tips for using blogging software, but also how to create ePub files.