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Making USGS Information Effective in the Electronic Age

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photograph of workshop
Discussions at the workshop "Making USGS Information Effective in the Electronic Age." Faces visible left to right: Fran Hotchkiss (WHFC), Jene Porter (University of Saskatchewan), Cathy Norton (MBL/WHOI Library), and Bob Frodeman (University of Colorado).
Question: What do you get if you mix

  • 28 CMGP staff members,
  • 5 colleagues from the private sector,
  • 2 philosophers,
  • 1 customer research specialist,
  • 1 expert in communicating with external constituents,
  • 1 colleague from the hydrology discipline, and
  • 1 colleague from the Geological Survey of Canada?

Answer: The workshop on "Making USGS Information Effective in the Electronic Age."

Experts in political science, philosophy, and communication science joined staff members of the USGS Coastal and Marine Geology Program (CMGP) in an information workshop held in Woods Hole on February 6th-8th. The outside experts aided us in considering the role of government and the historical development of the USGS in defining key communication purposes and audiences, and in understanding effective communication strategies. Building on these fundamental considerations, the workshop began to develop strategic plans for program information products that effectively apply our scientific expertise in the service of the Nation.

The workshop was organized by Tom Aldrich, Fran Hotchkiss, and Debbie Hutchinson (WHFC) and was conducted at the excellent Swope Center meeting facilities of the Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL), with the cooperation and assistance of Cathy Norton, Director of the MBL/WHOI Library. We had many attendees from across the USGS CMG Program, and representatives from the USGS Water Resources discipline, MBL, and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI). Unfortunately, several participants from across the country were turned back by a "Nor'Easter" that hit New England just before the workshop was convened.

The workshop was organized into three parts. Part one, "The Challenge of Vision," was devoted to presentations and lively discussions on the philosophical and historical role of Earth scientists and the USGS in society. Part one was led by Jene Porter, who has taught the history of political philosophy for more than 30 years at the University of Saskatchewan, and Bob Frodeman, a philosopher and geologist at the Center of the American West, University of Colorado. Part two, "The Challenge of Skill," was devoted to presentations and discussions on audience analysis and communication tactics and was led by Mike McDermott and Gail Wendt (USGS Reston).

Part three, "The Challenge of Strategy," began the third day with a presentation by Murray Journeay (Geological Survey of Canada) on the CordLink project, a prototype digital library for the Canadian Cordillera focused on the Georgia Basin of British Columbia. Fausto Marincioni (WHFC) spoke on the prototype Marine Realms Information Bank (MRIB), a distributed geolibrary that provides organized access to information about oceanic and coastal environments and is part of a cooperative project with WHOI. Last, Trent Faust (USGS St. Petersburg) gave a short presentation on the proposed redesign of the CMG Program Web Site (see following story). These talks gave the workshop attendees a good overview of the current status, and possibilities, of web-based access to information. The remainder of the third day was devoted to discussions led by Rex Sanders (USGS Menlo Park) on the strategic directions for the CMG "Knowledge Bank" project.

We left the workshop with a renewed sense of the USGS role in society, a better appreciation of the many ways in which we can participate in society, and a long list of ideas for further development. More information on this workshop is available on the web.

Related Web Sites
Marine Biological Laboratory
private research institution
Geological Survey of Canada
Marine Realms Information Bank
U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
Coastal & Marine Geology Program
U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)

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Outreach Black History Month

Glacial Floods Video

Meetings Coastal Marsh Die-Back in Gulf of Mexico

Carbonate Beaches 2000

USGS Information: Electronic Age

CMG Program Webmasters

Leaky Coastal Margins / Karst Interest Group

Nat'l Sand & Gravel

Ordnance Mine Burial

Awards Monterey Bay

Partnership Publications

Earthquake Hazards Video

Publications March Publications List

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