Narrative and Video: untapped possibilities for science communication

The way we communicate or, rather, consume media has changed drastically in just the last few years. Online video on-demand is where things are at, especially with those we need to target to achieve the ambitious goals that the Rockefeller Foundation has set us. Even though consumption rates are through the roof, the amount of video available online is daunting. As is often the case, it is a question of how to reach the target audience and get yourself heard/seen with all the competition.

At the risk of appearing self-serving, I am attaching an “in press” book chapter by Bienvenido León and Yours Truly from a large international study looking at science videos on YouTube. On one level the findings are somewhat depressing: what is largely being posted online is devoid of most of the characteristics that make for good communication (at least as far as we teach in science communication courses). However, the other way to look at it is that this creates an enormous opportunity to communicate through online video: if we combine storytelling and good production values with what is already known to work in that environment (authenticity, emotion), then hopefully such videos about communicating science could have a reach that exceeds those showing kittens in tumble dryers or grumpy old men shouting at rainbows?