Reads of the week 25 April 2014 – visual storytelling, beautiful science writing and more!

Here are our favourite reads of the week 25 April 2014:

Julie Gould:

This week has been all about the visual for me. And thanks to Virginia Hughes, I came across this rather lovely bit of visual storytelling from Bloomberg. How Americans Die uses data visualisation to tell a story – the story of how the mortality rate of American men and women has changed since 1968 (because that’s all the data they had access to!).

Another favourite of mine, just popped up yesterday (thanks Ed Yong!) is this beautiful write up of Ann Finkbeiners‘ talk about Literary Beauty and science writing at 2014 DCSWA Professional Development Day panel “How to Write Science Beautifully.”

I can’t do it justice in a summary, so I’ll quote my favourite part:

So my note of caution is this: as science writers, we should go ahead and treat our scientists as characters and their discoveries as plots; and find pretty analogies; and control the rhythms of our sentences; and look for the central conflicts and the narrative arcs; and write with our own peculiar voices. But our readers have a different covenant with is. They trust us, they think we’ll tell them the truth; they think they can put that truth into their worlds and rely on it. And if we betray them, they’ll be pissed. So if you want beauty in science writing? Find the beauty in the facts, in reality, and write about that.

Alexis Webb:

What’s a better read this week than the 15-reasons-that-Buzzfeed’s-lists-drive-us-crazy? How about 10 Breakthrough Technologies in 2014. The folks over at MIT’s Technology Review have compiled the techy developments in the last year that they think will drive us in to the future through their creative applications to solve current problems. No, not hoverboards… But more information on things like agricultural drones, genome editing, and agile robots is here. Find out more, along with the key players involved and why there’s potential to change the way we live.

Jovian Tsang:

I stumbled upon some impressive investigative journalism (sidenote: is it journalism if it’s a blog post?) on how academic publishing companies achieve their insane profit margins. In particular, Tim Gowers looks into the subscription costs that Elsevier charges academic institutions in the U.S. and U.K. It was interesting to learn that Elsevier makes universities sign confidentiality agreements, perhaps to stop them from finding out how much everyone else is being charged (spoilers: it’s a lot). Anyway, it’s a long read but incredibly insightful and juicy.

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