I have been out of action: a combination of illness, travel, and other commitments. I could tell you a story about that, but I thought instead, I’d share this with you, which is all about the place of stories in science communication.
A couple of years ago, I was in South Africa, where the lovely Marina Joubert looked after me and my family brilliantly and very generously. She exacted only an ounce of flesh from me in exchange: this interview, which was for the six-week online course she runs about science communication http://www0.sun.ac.za/scicom/course/.
Marina is the senior science communication researcher at Stellenbosch University’s Centre for Research on Evaluation, Science and Technology (CREST). She has received South Africa’s National Science and Technology Forum Award for her contributions to promoting science communication. In other words, she knows her stuff.
But she wasn’t going to let an opportunity go by, whereby she could garner some extra input for her online course. The problem was that we did not have much time available to do this and, it was complicated because our little guy demanded attention, which wasn’t exactly conducive to the quiet needed to conduct an interview. Eventually, Marina sat me down in a bedroom and, with my partner Wiebke filming on an iPad, threw some questions at me about storytelling. I can only hope that my answers sound as coherent.
Of course, every story deserves a good ending and this has a fine one. Marina gave our young son a soft toy hyena and, to this day, he still sleeps with it. I may have left some thoughts about storytelling in South Africa, but it was Marina’s kindness to Eligh that will have the most lasting impact.
Real stories are powerful because they affect people.