Evolutionary Biology Online Journal Club

Planning next meetings – your thoughts


Thanks everyone who showed up for the fist meeting of the year! Was great to hear what you all had to say. I thought the experiment with Shindig was quite interesting, had its pros and cons but especially after we got the hang of it things went a lot more smoothly (as would be expected when trying out a new platform). But I’d like to hear from you guys before we decide what to do. I’m leaving a poll at the end of this post, but please also use the comments section in this post to share your thoughts!

Personally I think it’s a promising platform, but the bandwidth issue seems to be a bit limiting. I thought the “only 2 at once” was going to be a big problem, and it may have made the discussion a bit centered in the people that were up there, but still a lot of people did come up and speak, which is pretty awesome. Google Hangouts may be a bit more dynamic, but there’s the “10 people limit” (which we can partially get around using text chat, which is not the same I guess….).

Another problem is that I tried to record a screencast of the discussion to post, but I failed. Even though I set the program the right way (and tested earlier), it only recorded my audio, and nothing that everybody else said. As I assume you’ve all have heard enough of my voice, I won’t post it online. Google Hangouts does streamline this, recording and posting to youtube automatically.

What do you think?

For the next meeting. We need a volunteer to choose a paper! What would you guys want to talk about? I thought about a couple topics – The genetics of speciation, Ecology of speciation, linking population dynamics to diversification, micro + macroevolution, hybridization – but I’d really like to hear from you. So please someone volunteer in the comments to choose a paper 🙂 and share what topics you’d be interested in discussing!

Thanks again! Looking forward to the next meeting!


Author: Rafael Maia

Postdoctoral fellow at the University of Idaho, studying the development and evolution of iridescent colors in birds.

14 thoughts on “Planning next meetings – your thoughts

  1. Like you, I thought the two “on stage” heads and the technical hitches limited the flow a little (and kept some people out entirely).

    Shindig seems like a cool service, I just don’t think it’s quite right for what we want to do.

    (I’m not volunteering, but the other endless battle in speciation research is sympatric v allopatric and, probably more interestingly, are those terms really a useful way of looking at speciation. But, as I say, I ‘ve done my turn leading a dicussion!)

    • David, do you have a paper recommendation for the second point (are those terms really a useful way of looking at speciation)? I just got a review back where I was pretty much nailed by that, would love to read more on it!

  2. I was pretty frustrated as I couldn’t get onto shindig. I figured it all out in advance, and at like 520 started trying to get in. Although I was at school, and had 4/5 wifi bars on my laptop, I could never get past the screen that just showed an empty classroom. Then I tried on my desktop (with ethernet) and could see you guys blip in and out, but clearly had connectivity problems. I haven’t had any internet problems at school before, but I guess the connection was just too slow. If the meetings were at 5 I’d have time to go home , but I can’t make it for the 430 time. I was pretty disappointed as I really was looking forward to this!!! Sorry I missed it 😦 and super sorry you weren’t able to record it, Rafael.

  3. It’s hard for me to judge the this well because I didn’t see big parts of the chat. Did it work well for most people?

    I tend to agree with Chandra. I think my internet connection is reasonably fast and I could barely watch the chat on the low bandwidth setting.

    I agree that the stream-to-YouTube feature of the G+ Hangouts is pretty convenient, and doesn’t require 3rd party screen capture software that is “free to try”. Even with the G+ limit of 10 people in the interface, I think that using the text chat to rotate people in or out is a good option. The built -in text chat window was too small so we would probably have to continue using the text chat site that we have been using so far anyway.

    I am OK with the 430 EST timeslot, but 5PM EST would work for me too.

    I think a discussion on allopatric vs. sympatric speciation would be great. Another good topic would be phylogenetic auto-correlation and whether or not it is important to consider when using species level data to examine evolutionary trends (i.e., some still argue that it is not necessary to “correct for phylogeny” – Reeve and Sherman 2001).

    Reeve, H.K. & Sherman P.W. 2001. Optimality and phylogeny: a critique of current thought. 220 Pages 64-113 in Adaptationism and Optimality, S. Orzack and E. Sober (Eds.). Oxford 221 University Press, Oxford.

    We don’t need to read this chapter specifically, but I think this would be a good topic for discussion.

  4. Like you said, Shindig has its pros and cons but it seems to me that, at this time, the balance leans a little more to the cons. The main problems I encountered were how often the application crashed (things did get better after I switched browsers, but still) and the horrid quality of my webcam feed (I swear, the quality of the image, though not perfect, is never that bad).

  5. It looks like we might be able to get up to 15 ppl in G+ hangouts… would Morgan or Rafael be able to look into this more?
    https://plus.google.com/u/1/+DoriStorbeck/posts/BrCRbRxiscE says 15 ppl are possible through Google Apps, which is part of G+ for business.
    Then when I go to the G+ for businesses (below), it says educational groups can apply for free Google Apps (which I think is what allows the 15 ppl hangouts), see http://www.google.com/intl/en/enterprise/apps/business/pricing.html and click the discount for non-profits tab. I don’t know if I can find out anything more without initiating an application, so one of you guys could maybe look at this?

  6. I concur that Shindig seems promising but is not the best option for us right now. Under identical conditions, I can connect much better through Hangouts, and to be frank, unreliable connectivity defeats the purpose of an online journal club. I suspect people weren’t shy about raising their hands so much as hesitant because they were trying to catch up on the conversation after missing bits and pieces due to the choppiness. As soon as someone misses a significant bit of the journal club conversation, they may be hugely discouraged from speaking up or even joining in again at a later date, and that will do a lot to damage the consistency and diversity of participation in this club. Additionally, an automated queue plus the ability to “step down” after one has said his/her piece, or at least moderation by one of us instead of third-party moderation, would have better served our needs–I suspect that this might have contributed to the lag between speakers. Oh well…

    Anyway, as for what I heard of the discussion itself, it sounded like we got off to a good start. I would be interested in any of the previously-mentioned papers for next discussion. I would like to see a taxonomy-focused discussion sooner rather than later, so more of us can gain a better window into the world of taxonomy going forward, since I suspect most of us aren’t well-versed in that field. Perhaps Morgan could lead us on a discussion?

  7. I must say I was disappointed with the Shindig experience, and agree that we go back to Google+ Hangouts for the time being. There are a couple of other add-ons that I recently learned about (in addition to the potential for 15 people hangouts that Chandra found) that may simplify our text vs video conversations, so I’ll see what I can figure out for the next meeting (I’ll write up a post when I have details).

    As for future topics, I’m happy to lead a Taxonomy overview discussion, and I’m pretty sure I can find some sort of reading material which would cover something similar (although nothing is coming to mind immediately…). If people want to try this then I’m game, otherwise I’m happy to cover any other species/speciation topics. Our discussion yesterday was really good (when we could hear each other) and I’m stoked to see how the rest of the semester turns out!

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