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Tuesday, 28 January 2014

TWDK past, present and future

At this time of year, it's customary for a company to reflect on what it has (or hasn't) achieved over the past year, and to plan out how it wants to move forward for the next twelve months. 2013 was indeed a special year for Things We Don't Know, as it was the first full year in which we existed! We're certainly very proud of everything we've achieved so far.

In 2012, our highest monthly visitor count to our articles was just under 2,500 (November). In October 2013, saw more than three times as many visitors. That's still a low number compared to what we want to achieve, but for a website that doesn't advertise anywhere (yet) we're rather happy with that.

Of course, our published articles are just the tip of the iceberg - we've been busy doing a lot more behind the scenes.
TWDK founder Ed Trollope on stage in Berlin
TWDK founder Ed Trollope, presenting his vision on stage in Berlin. Photograph by Gerhard F. Ludwig
Ed Trollope, Evelina Lundqvist and Mario Sinnhofer
Ed, Evelina and Mario - the greatest social entrepreneurs of all time! Photograph courtesy Thom Truong.
We started off the year making appearances as part of Thom Truong's "Invest in Me!" in both the Freischwimmer arts festival and the Aarau Democracy Days. This meant giving a very theatrical presentation alongside other social entrepreneurs from The Good Tribe and Rasenreich (kingdom of grass), explaining what we're doing and trying to achieve to a series of highly receptive audiences across Europe. This began in Berlin, where we were nominated as the "Best Social Entrepreneurs of all time", and included appearances in Zürich, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Bern, Hamburg and Vienna. It was following these appearances that TWDK was featured in the business trends magazine GDI-Impuls, and lifestyle magazine Enorm.


The first major news of the year was the addition of Ginny Smith to our editorial team, at the same time as we took on two Chemistry interns, back in March. Since then, Ginny has proved a valuable addition to the team, and can be heard in our first science podcast "why do we sleep?", available free to download. Freya and Lucy (the two interns) spent a busy few months adding descriptions of open scientific research areas to our database (which now has 400 such descriptions in it), ranging from artificial blood to room temperature superconductors.

In the summer, we took on two new physics interns - up from one in 2012 - through our partnership with the South East Physics Network (SEPnet). As with the year before, this was a tremendous success, and this year culminated with our two interns giving presentations at the prestigious Royal Institution in London.

Cait Percy on stage at the Royal Institution. Photograph by Paul Stead Photography.Johanna Blee on stage at the Royal Institution. Photograph by Paul Stead Photography.
Our two summer physics interns, Cait Percy (left) and Johanna Blee (right), talking about their time with TWDK at the Royal Institution. Photographs reproduced with kind permission from Paul Stead Photography.

The second half of the year was a whirlwind of activity, with Alex Hamilton joining our web development team and Malte Elson joining our staff writers. Somehow I even managed to appear in an interview for the BBC, whilst preparing to launch the new TWDK Kids! section of the website, and taking part in a reception at the UK houses of parliament. We also released a wonderful introductory video, and then partnered with animator Es Einsteinium (aka Luke Thomas) to produce our first science video.

Mysteries of Science magazine Odyssey
Odyssey science magazine.
And now 2014 has got off to a rocking start, with a science magazine on sale across America with TWDK acting as the consulting editor for their special edition on the Mysteries of Science.

But enough about the past! What else can we look forward to and expect for 2014?

What better way to start the year than by increasing our already amazing team? We're very happy to announce that we've added yet another content writer, Lori Dajose. Some of Lori's work has already appeared on our site, as she submitted one of the articles we selected to publish during World Space Week, back in October. Lori joins us as our new Planetary Science editor.

We're also happy to welcome Fiona Hutchings as our new communications manager, to look after all things TWDK on our various social media channels. Fiona will be taking over the role from Laura, who is also moving into our editorial team to focus on making sure we don't write anything people can't understand.

Finally, we're welcoming back Jon Cheyne to TWDK. Jon is no stranger to our offices, having spent the summer of 2012 filling our database with descriptions of mysteries, magnetars and majoranas. This time Jon will be working on developing our relationships with academic science departments.

2014 is looking to be a very exciting year indeed, with more announcements coming soon! So sign up to our email list, and make sure you don't miss them!