I am an incredibly lucky science geek. About a month ago, I received an e-mail which said that I, along with several work colleagues, had been invited to Science Foo Camp (more commonly referred to as “SciFoo”). Sci Foo is an annual “unconference” event that is organized by Digital Science, Nature, Google, and O’Reilly Media. The unconference (which takes place this weekend from June 21-23 at the Google Headquarters in Mountain View, California) brings together a group of interesting people involved in science and in technology – movers and shakers, if you will. Of course, I was stunned and deeply honoured to receive an invitation to attend Sci Foo.
The impression that I’ve gotten from from previous Sci Foo campers is that the event is designed to let creative and intellectually-stimulating conversations flourish. In contrast to traditional academic conferences, which have rigid programme schedules (and occasionally structured networking sessions), Sci Foo appears to be very unrestrictive. In fact, campers are encouraged to speak about any topics that they are passionate about, and are given ample opportunities to connect with each other. Instead of adhering to a fixed schedule, campers have the freedom to choose how they want to spend their time and who they want to spend it with. It all sounds brilliant.
Things that I’m looking forward to
1. Seeing the Google Headquarters. Because, in addition to being a proper noun, “google” has become a verb. It’s truly remarkable how this company has become so ubiquitous in our everyday lives.
2. Meeting people who are passionate about science. These are my favourite kinds of people to speak with and learn from, because they always seem to have the ability to remind you of the beauty of science.
3. Being inspired. Although I don’t have a particular discussion topic in mind at the moment, I’m prepared to be a sponge and soak up as much knowledge as I can.
A brief reflection
If someone had told me last year that I would soon have an awesome job that I loved and also be invited to Sci Foo, my brain would likely have exploded. Back when I was packing my bags for a new life in London, I never would have been able to fathom what was waiting for me across the pond. Looking back on my decisions now, I strongly believe that my choice to leave academia and pursue different avenues in science was the right one. Although the initial adjustment to life in the UK wasn’t always easy, I’m now really happy, both in my work life and my personal life. For these reasons, I am an incredibly lucky science geek.