Last Friday night I attended a Jamboree, and yes it was a "jamboree." We weren't all dressed in the same uniform, but there was talk about badges and the occasional hushed mention of sashes. Except that this wasn't your usual jamboree – no, this was a Science Scout Jamboree.
Hold on – in case, you're scratching your head and wondering what I'm going on about, let me explain. The Science Scouts is this somewhat silly thing that is probably best described as a mix of science geekery, badges, and the occasional beer. It's been mentioned a few times here and there, but really, at the end of the day, it's just an excuse for folks with a vested and/or peripheral interest in science to hang out. It's interesting because that description is general enough that a really interesting and diverse mix of people come out.
But back to the badges – yes, there are badges! In fact, there are over a hundred of them right now and you can check them all out on the website, as well as read the many hundreds of comments left by people who have taken the effort to tell us why they deserve specific badges.
For instance, some of my favourite include the four below:
The one on the far left is the "I can be a prick when it comes to science" badge. This one is interesting, because there are lots of folks who argue against woo, creationism, and climate change denialism, and feel that this badge was made for them. The next badge is the "call me a visionary, because I do a pretty convincing science dystopia" badge. I love this one, because it was created with the help of someone who obviously knows what she's talking about, and is just an example of how funny little web things can lead to interesting connections. Moving along, the "I've named a child or pet for science" badge) is just cool, because so many folks have left comments telling us what they've named their child or pet and why. Finally, there is the "I've set fire to stuff (LEVEL IV)" badge, because there are different levels when it comes to combustion.
Right now, the badges are pretty much existing only in the virtual world, but there have been some who have actually physically made them and then put them up for sale (see Angelheart704's examples below). In fact, since launching the site, I get at least 4 emails a week on badge making services (usually from India or China). Anyway, making them for sale is o.k. with us, and is something that we've talked about on the website – it's kind of a free market thing.
All to say that at Friday's meeting, we had a great turn out with lots of interesting folks, including a wildlife photographer, an expedition writer, a children's author (about pirates no less), an environmental political scientist, an evolutionary biologist (who occasionally moonlights as a Darwin impersonator), architects for humanity, folks who report on the Vancouver Art scene, journalists, museum curators, lots of students, and many many more.
It was awesome, and it got me thinking that one of these days, I need to organize and host a proper (a.k.a. conference style) "jamboree" in Vancouver. More importantly, it got me thinking that we need some new ideas for badges.
So, here's an open call for new science scout badges. No need to produce art, just the idea is fine. Funny is great, but funny because it's so wonderfully true and geeky is better. Anyway, you can leave comments below, or better yet, (since the idea of the description being less than 140 characters is particularly appealing to me), send along a tweet to @dnghub with the hashtag #sciencescout.