Tuesday, November 01, 2011

NaNoWriMo Meets the #SciFund Challenge

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National Novel Writing Month -- NaNoWriMo -- occurs November 1 through November 30. Its goal for participants: write 50,000 words in 30 days.

For several years, I've been a local author panelist in the three-part NaNoWriMo series presented by the Citrus County Library System. But I have not myself participated in NaNo.

Until now. And I am participating not as a novelist, but as a nonfiction NaNoWriMo "rebel."

This year also marks the inauguration of the #SciFund Challenge, which runs parallel to NaNoWriMo. From November 1 through December 15, 240 scientists are engaging in a crowdfunding experiment, seeking support for 49 projects. We're not talking NSF grants here; in some cases, donations can be as small as a dollar.

And those donations come with rewards. Want a specimen named after you? (Donate $20 to Jessica Carilli's project on corals and climate change.) Want a way cool bottle of wine for the holidays? (Donate $15 to Matthew Hutchins' Mythbusters-like investigation on ways to artificially age red wine.) Want a chance to see transmitted images of wildlife, possibly even before the researchers do? (Donate $10 to the Serengeti Lion Project's "Serengeti Live.")

Even smaller donations can get you public thanks and exclusive email updates -- a ringside seat to scientific discovery. How ringside? For as little as a dollar you can receive access to data and digital photos of Walter Weare's lab working on the creation of artificial photosynthesis to convert light into fuel.

Other projects offer souvenirs like T-shirts, mugs, fridge magnets, postcards, bumper stickers, and more. Larger-ticket rewards include an exclusive video chat, original artwork, autographed maps, and personal tours of research sites.

I've been following the #SciFund Challenge since mid-August, reading blog posts that had begun with Jarrett Byrnes's July 29 entry, "The #SciFund Challenge: A Call to (virtual) Arms." I've been following tweets, and -- thanks to co-founder Jai Ranganathan -- have contributed this guest post.

Even #SciFund's cool logo was itself crowdsourced, through a contest held at 99designs. You can find all the #SciFund projects here on RocketHub. Not only do they look awesome, but they've all been Jai approved!

What will I write for NaNoWriMo? I'm neither a science blogger nor a journalist, but I have some publishing creds that include science poetry and science fiction in places like Asimov's. I'm not a scientist, but I hold a master of science degree. Call me a science fan. I'm interested not only in the projects themselves, but in the journeys being undertaken by people who have banded together across the globe, designing their crowdfunding pitches, including videos, in less than a month. Some have learned new outreach skills on the fly. They are all bringing science to the public in a way seldom seen -- and never before seen in such a team effort among many.

I also expect to contribute some "rocket fuel" here and there, as I tag along and scribble, cheering them on.

Elissa Malcohn's Deviations and Other Journeys
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Vol. 1, Deviations: Covenant (2nd Ed.), Vol. 2, Deviations: Appetite, Vol. 3, Deviations: Destiny, Vol. 4, Deviations: Bloodlines, Vol. 5, Deviations: TelZodo, Vol. 6 and conclusion: Deviations: Second Covenant.
Free downloads at the Deviations website (click here for alternate link), Smashwords, and Manybooks.
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