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I expected the ScienceWriters 2009 workshop moderated by Robin Lloyd and Christie Nicholson, social media mavenettes working for Scientific American, entitled "Social Media — Why, Where and How," to cover the whole Social Media scene for me so that I'd perhaps see some value to it all. Social media was defined by Lloyd as places where "you receive, consolidate, share information." Regrettably the well publicized social media websites like Facebook, MySpace and LinkedIn were barely mentioned. This session was a sales job for Twitter.

Every day, hundreds of thousands of oil and gas wells in Texas siphon fossil fuel from the ground, sending it on to dozens of refineries and processing plants across the state. Yet it's not enough: The biggest energy hog and carbon emitter in the nation, Texas has to import additional oil to satisfy its fuel needs. "We're the China of America," Michael Webber, a mechanical engineer at the University of Texas, told the 40 attendees at the 2009 CASW New Horizons in Science briefing in Austin. "We're the dirty, industrial heavy lifter."

Angry red trapezoids kill and eat the carcasses of their green kin. Critters turn blue to signal their desire to mate. Adults gobble their young. Welcome to Polyworld, the purported answer to one of the biggest unsolved problems in science: a theory of consciousness.

Recent research in nematodes, mice, and primates has shown that living on a severely reduced diet results in an unexpected benefit: longer lifespan. The constant, low-intensity stress from such diets might actually be helpful, shielding against even worse troubles, such as cancer. The downside is that, to enjoy these boons, an organism must cut its food consumption by a third.

Why should science reporters who've mastered the use of the printed word bother to "embrace cheap video cameras, YouTube and Final Cut Pro?" The multitalented panel for this workshop session at ScienceWriters 2009 came up with plenty of reasons — ranging, from hooking in additional readers to pleasing Web advertisers to covering topics that are far more compelling when shown than told. But perhaps the best argument was the videos and slide shows created by panel members that were, used as examples.

Download an MP3 audio file of this session.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then what's the value of an entire slide show of compelling images, complete with sound effects, music and narration? In the "Visual Journalism for Science Writers" workshop at ScienceWriters 2009, three multimedia mavens shared their tips for creating informative visuals to stand alone or complement the written word. Then, the workshop panelists guided participants in building their own narrated slideshows.