Ways to improve the TMRO:Science show


#1

I’m always looking for ways to improve our shows. Before I deploy TMRO:Tech I want to get TMRO:Science in to a mode that is compelling on its own. I have a few ideas of what I think we should change but welcome constructive feedback from the community here.

  • News needs to be easier to digest topics. We only have a couple of minutes for each story, and right now I think we’re grabbing topics that are far too complex for that time span and format. I feel like Athena’s story about the rhinos is much closer to what we should be doing. It was easy to understand and easy to consume without being too soft on science. It’s a tricky balance here, but I’m not sure we have said balance down just yet.

  • What if Science was interview only? Do we need a news section for Science at all? Only 1 commercial break to have the interview and viewer comments? Downside is that we have fewer hosts / personalities on the show which is a bit of a bummer.

  • Interviews only from now on. I don’t think TMRO:Science really works as a round table show just yet. Maybe save those only for times where guests bail at the very last moment. The Science shows with guests are great. The Science shows with round table discussions tend to leave me wanting.

  • I think the show format should maybe be tweaked a bit from the Space show. In Space we use news as a bit of a hook. There’s a lot of really cool stuff happening that is easy to consume. Science is a lot more complex. And really most people are likely coming for the interview. I’m thinking we should try putting the interview up front, then news, followed by comments from the previous show. Not sure if that will muck up the CAPCOM role or not… Dunno.

  • I have no idea where to advertise these shows. Science sub-Reddits are super aggressive on what is allowed to be posted. There’s this weird eliteness to science that TMRO doesn’t have nor wants. The idea of science is to get people who are maybe passively interested in space to head over to the dark side… er, become space enthusiasts… But this doesn’t work if we can’t reach the science nerds.

What does everyone here think? Any ideas you have to improve the science shows and help distribute them among the masses?


#2

I think the first mistake made was assuming 3 segment show works for Science because that’s the format you reached many years into Space. Science should be only 1 segment. An hour long interview with an expert in their field with 2 in studio hosts. It would cause 1 show to have less hosts BUT as you have previously mentioned one of the reasons Science is once monthly is to respect host’s time so that would also allow you to turn it into a biweekly. One week on, one off. Science is a wide enough of a topic that finding guests for biweekly shouldn’t be that difficult. It would maybe even allow the comments and questions section to become something less … pointless. Sorry, but discussing a comment that someone made a month ago is just a very boring book club.

Turning Science into 1 segment, the guests expertise, will also allow to find more places to post about the show. If the guest bails a roundtable should never be the fallback option, a 30-40min casual science news show should be.


#3

This is very good data and I tend to agree with it. Here are my proposed changes… We as always will play with the format and see what works.

  • We are never going to do a Science roundtable again. The show will cancelled or migrated to someone else before we’ll do that.

  • I like the 2 hosts idea for the interview. We will put that in play.

  • Instead of using the Space format for news I’m thinking that we’ll try a 60 second elevator pitch for each topic. Then after that pitch the team will discuss it – no scripts. Hoping that forces the topics to be easier to consume and more conversational. This will also happen after the interview as I think Science is more interesting with the interview section.

  • If the elevator pitch news topics idea doesn’t work, I’m thinking we’ll kill news completely.

  • I agree on month-old comments. I think actually this may transition over to Space too… I know the comments are not as stale, but I would like to reward people for watching live. If we do this to Space we’ll likely replace the 3rd section with something else. I’m not sure Science needs a section here.

Appreciate the time and thought you put in to this WKD.


#4

Comments and questions shouldn’t be looked at as a section but an add-on. There have been some great comments, from what I remember some have even been responsible for becoming a topic in a future show. But most of them aren’t. It shouldn’t be a struggle to find comments to fill the time but a need to include comment(s) because they gave you a new perspective. And it shouldn’t be a “punishment” for people who decide to maintain a healthy sleep schedule and not stay up late / wake up in the middle of the night to tune in.

Falcon timezones! :smirk:

I don’t have any data to back it up but based on my personal observations during live it seems that discussion IS the problem with news. News has it’s own room, a more formal setup and people see news segment as a place where fact based info is shared and explained for an casual viewer to understand. If you add to that a discussion that may have glaring mistakes in it people see it as, for the lack of a better term, a breach of trust.

You should try an episode where each news story has a 3min hard cutoff (closer to 2 preferred), no discussion (except clarification questions by other hosts if needed) and news with video or lots of images given a higher priority because vodcast.

If news don’t work perhaps try a ‘Today I Learned’ segment where instead of fresh news you introduce a theory/product/experiment/research results/… that most people haven’t come across in their daily life yet. As an example: (I know this goes under space, but work with me here, people!!)

Did you know you could turn your home into a payload fairing?

When building their H-II rocket JAXA needed something to give their payload fairing temperature protection and controllability but still be lightweight. Their solution was a ceramic insulation paint developed by Nissin-Sangyo in collaboration with JAXA called GAINA.

All you need to create an effective barrier is to paint on a layer that’s only 1-2mm thick! The paint creates layers of ceramic beads suspended in acrylic silicone resin on the painted surface. Due to it’s properties the paint can be used to block out excessive heat in the summer, keep heat in during cold winters, as sound dampening, help prevent condensation or even improve air quality inside the rooms. And perhaps most importantly, give you the bragging rights of living inside a payload fairing!

The GAINA ceramic paint is sold commercially for a while with popularity continuing to increase. The uses are from vehicles to personal homes to factories to refrigerated warehouses to large butane gas storage tanks. It’s even being used in a temple in india to make the floor tolerable under people’s bare feet!.

bla bla imagine this was well researched and not written based on what I remember of GAINA blabla

A TIL segment would also be more casual and so making it possible to have discussions about them. With focus on peaking people’s interest in various topics so that they would b interested in researching it further on their own.


#5

Certainly not a punishment, but I think more of a reward for live. Point about great comments is well taken. There may be a hybrid solution here.

I think that news format would work for space, but not sure about science. The crowd is just too willing to pick apart every… single… detail… in science. I think instead the ‘today I learned’ format is better. Frankly, if any section of the show isn’t conversational then why is it in a live show at all? Just do a better produced non-live news segment edited together with well researched topics and scripts. I’m actually not opposed to that, I think it would be valuable. But right now I want to fix the live shows and I truly believe that community interaction and conversations is what makes live worth it. So yeah, maybe it isn’t news anymore and instead something along the line of ‘today I learned’ or maybe a quick experiment we can do… meh…l dunno.

Maybe there is a way to merge this today I learned type format with comments. Find really great comments and deep dive on one or two. But I’m not sure we have comments like that just yet. No reason we couldn’t solicit for them though.


#6

One other advantage to an interview only format is that it becomes easier to market the show on sites like Reddit and whatnot. Right now it is hard because we need a whole lot of supporting material else we get pulled down. But if we just do a simple interview I think can possible reach more places to post.

The key to these shows is to relate back to space somehow though. I don’t want to lose that and don’t have a good hook in an interview only format that doesn’t feel forced.


#7

What if the ‘Today I Learned’ segment was a deep-dive into topics/observations provided by commenters - for example, person x comments about the heatwave in Southern California which the hosts end up picking to feature on the show.

Hosts then go over how to stay cool in a heatwave using science, with some really neat quick experiments (like the ‘setting your hands on fire’ demonstration’).

Then relate it to space somehow… like in the above example you could relate how water is great at absorbing heat and is used on internal ISS cooling systems to cool the electronics etc.

And then ending on a call for more observations/questions about the world/why stuff works for a chance to be featured in the next epicsode.

I think Science News (With improvement) would be better suited to well-produced, timely, sci-pod style of content. However I’m not sure we have the resources at this stage to work on both a better live show and to produce quality sci-pods at the same time.


#8

I agree, we don’t have the resources for a stand-alone science news segment today. But I’m growing more and more convinced that is what would be needed if we wanted a hard news segment in Science like we do Space. And I think that is indeed something we will want in the long term. For now though, lets work the live shows with an intent to see what it will take in the future to do SciPods.


#9

If or when the shpw goes to more regular timings why not alternate one week an interview next week a much shorter news show.


#10

I just wanted to put in my $0.02 about the TMRO:Science format.

I actually would prefer more news, and a shorter interview, and here is why. With the interview, it is all about the 1 subject. If that particular subject doesn’t interest someone, they will not feel like watching the episode (if that was the only thing in that episode). At least with the news segments, there are a variety of topics and might give more of a reason to watch and episde.

With the news segments, I did think that the first couple of Experiments (episodes) picked topics a little to challenging. I agree with Ben that the news segments should be topics that can be easier to explain and discuss. I also think that the news both here and on TMRO:Space should be kept a little more professional and to the point. I don’t mean stiff, just stay more on topic.


#11

Great discussion, folks! For me, TMRO:Science-news has often been feeling a bit like ‘wooo-whiplash! ouch…’ with every news piece. Wildly diverse, and not quite in a good sense. A possible refinement might be to take a cue from the Sci-Show format, by which I’m referring to chunking together two or three stories and/or historical reviews from closely related areas, perhaps followed by a short discussion on the more general area of research.

Hypothetical example: Recent breakthroughs in fusion energy research might spawn a show where the three “stories” are a)tokamaks - b)stellarators - c)other fusion technologies; after which the hosts tie it all together with a slightly more general discussion of “fusion energy yesterday, today and tomorrow.”

With this kind of setup, I think there could be time and place for both some width and some depth, within each single show.


#12

That sounds good to me. I’m sure that as the show finds it’s feet there maybe a few misshaps but it’s great you are always trying to improve. At least it keeps the format from getting stale.


#13

Have the guest be involved in the news segment. The guest can opine on certain subject matters. The news segment can pick a topic or two that relates to the work the guest does.


#14

I mean, maybe yes… But it also opens the door to learning new things people may not have been interested about. I think our job is to ensure all of these interviews and stories sound compelling up front. Even if we miss someone and they are bored, I think that may be OK too. Not everyone needs to love every episode.

This isn’t a bad idea, although I’m not sure I see the point of doing this in a live format. If we did something like this, I would expect it to be an edited show instead. It is becoming a bit more clear that Science may require an edited version of the show to go with the live shows. Maybe we make it something like 3 edited shows per month and 1 live interview. I just need to find the people with the resources to make it happen, or free those up myself.

We have had some cool moments with the hosts interacting during news while in Space. But with the diverse topics we have today, I’m not sure how viable this is.


#15

Include a subject in the news which the guest can speak to …


#16

I don’t mind a roundtable … so long as it’s with experts in their fields (sorry hosts). I’d value having two or three guests from different backgrounds/companies speak on and debate the same topic. After all, panel discussions are usually the best videos from conferences that people tune in for. Do that with two hosts to prompt questions would be cool. I think to throw to an initial 5 - 10 minute well-produced/pre-recorded news segment - genuine news - before the interview would be a good way to handle that content, recorded during the previous week(s) at home for max convenience. Comments could then be replaced by a short q&a after the panel/interview for any salient points and anything else thrown to an afterdark as with space.


#17

We would not have roundtables then if we just had “experts” in their fields. Multiple guests would have to be on the show at the same time. I am sure it’s difficult to schedule one expert guest.

TMRO is a show IMO for space and science enthusiasts and the roundtables are by enthusiasts for enthusiasts. They are best live, while the audience participates via chatroom. Not sure how well roundtables would keep a viewers attention as a recording … not being able to participate.


#18

Didn’t suggest they’d be recordings at all, Johnny, but debates, not monologues.


#19

As much as I like the science show, I have to agree with most comments here. I think a Interview only solution will be better, but I think that the value of the comment section is a bit undervalued. It is a nice way out of the show and there have been really valuable comments. It should only be part of the program, if there are comments that are worth it, but if there are comments that really move the understanding of a topic forward, it can be a really valuable addition.

If there isn’t a content section as part of the normal show, one could conceive of them as SciencePods, that are on an irregular schedule…

Thank you
Sven


#20

discussions not debates. Proper debate forums is not TMROish …