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14.01.2015 15:11

20 years of science communication services idw celebrates with a look to the future

idw-Team idw Bayreuth

    Informationsdienst Wissenschaft – idw will celebrate its twentieth anniversary this month. The science information service has brought journalists and experts from the field of science together and provided them with press releases since January 1995. idw also publishes a scientific calendar. With its network comprising a current total of 923 member institutions, idw is the central source of news for the German-speaking world of science. More than 33,000 subscribers make use of its services. idw will celebrate 20 years of existence in Berlin on 11–13 March with a series of events that will include a workshop on “The future of science communication – and the role of idw”.

    The programme will kick off on 11 March with a reception in the atrium of the Leibniz Association at which idw will present its awards for the press releases of the year 2014. The question of how to gauge, safeguard and enhance the quality of science communication will subsequently form the focus of the workshops held at Humboldt-Universität on 12 March. idw wishes to set a new course, among others with the presentation by Prof. Dr. Christoph Neuberger (Munich) on “Participation, interaction and transparency – how the internet is changing science communication”, a podium discussion with leading journalists and science communicators on “Role awareness and the quality of science press work”, and workshops on the quality of press work, expert mediation and social media. The member institutions of the non-profit idw e.V. will then meet at Humboldt-Universität on 13 March for their annual general meeting.

    idw is one of the oldest news services on the German-language web. It was launched in January 1995 following a two-month test phase at the initiative of the former spokesmen of the University of Bayreuth (Jürgen Abel), Ruhr Universität Bochum (Dr. Josef König) and TU Clausthal (Jochen Brinkmann) as well as the Head of the Computing Centre at TU Clausthal (Dr. Gerald Lange) – initially as a mailing list known as “Elster”. In those days, journalists with no internet access were able to submit queries for experts to idw via fax. Following the successful initial phase using resources from the three founding press offices, the German Federal Ministry of Science and Research (BMWF) pledged around 1.86 million Deutschmarks (approx. 950,000 euros) in funding for further development and expansion between 1996 and 1999. Since January 1996, the service has operated under the name of Informationsdienst Wissenschaft – idw. In 2000, idw began financing itself from membership fees. A total of 923 science institutions in Germany, Austria and Switzerland as well as nine further states now count among idw’s members. This includes 109 universities, 132 universities of applied sciences, 59 other institutes of higher education, 15 academies, 29 university hospitals, 42 Fraunhofer facilities, 36 Max Planck institutes, along with countless other institutes, ministries, professional associations, foundations, and institutions for research promotion. Eighteen commercial enterprises with in-house research departments are also members.

    More than 33,000 subscribers worldwide currently obtain science information from idw. The 7,300 journalists among them are able to contact experts from the field of science – as has been the case since 1995. idw moreover makes lists of experts on key scientific topics available at regular intervals and publishes details of meetings and events offered by its members in its scientific calendar. An archive with a full text search function containing more than 280,000 items of press information enables an overview of the history of science development over the past 20 years.

    Further information:
    Attachment: The history of idw (and the internet) – facts and figures
    About idw:
    Workshop programme:

    Dr. Josef König (Team Leader, idw e.V.)
    Patrick Bierther (Deputy Team Leader, idw e.V.)
    Tel.: +49 921 3489989-70
    Fax: +49 921 3489989-78

    The history of idw (and the internet) – facts and figures

    September: Presentation by Dr. Gerald Lange (Head of the Computing Centre, TU Clausthal) on “Gopher, ProfNet, etc.” at the university press spokesperson meeting in Braunschweig. This is followed by preliminary discussions on a joint service between Dr. Gerald Lange, Jochen Brinkmann (Press Spokesman, TU Clausthal) and Jürgen Abel (Press Spokesman, University of Bayreuth) as well as Dr. Josef König (Press Spokesman, Ruhr-Universität Bochum).

    October/November: The preliminary mailing list for the mediation of experts and university press office press releases for distribution to journalists are finalised and tested.

    Approx. 1,000 .de addresses.
    October 1994 Founding of Spiegel Online

    January: First official press release (from Ruhr-Universität Bochum) on the service known as Elster (Electronic Technology for European Research); launch with 32 press offices and 20 journalists.

    Internet access across Germany: approx. 1.1 million + 840,000 from September with the founding of T-Online and the switch of Telekom’s BTX screen text system to the internet.
    Approx. 5,000 .de addresses. There are a total of 23,500 websites worldwide.
    Microsoft presents its Windows 95 operating system. Internet Explorer 1.0 comes onto the market – up until then, Mosaic and Netscape were the standard browsers. Java is presented as the programming language for the development of system-independent applications. WWW replaces FTP as the service with the highest data traffic.
    Launch of eBay online auction house. ( follows the next year; Google in 1997; in 1998.)

    February 1996: Elster is renamed the Informationsdienst Wissenschaft – idw.

    October: TU Dortmund becomes idw’s hundredth member.

    November: The BMBF awards idw 1.86 million Deutschmarks in funding for a three-year period. idw recruits staff at its offices in Bayreuth, Bochum and Clausthal to extend and develop the service further, support users, and develop new offers such as the idw scientific calendar and the idw contact mediation service for companies (discontinued in 2004).

    Public Understanding of Science and Humanities (PUSH) memorandum by the leading German science organisations with founding of the “Wissenschaft im Dialog gGmbH”

    idw hosts the organisation’s first homepage and contributes to this.

    idw begins financing itself with the annual contributions from member institutions.

    Founding of idw e.V., which to this day remains the non-profit organisation responsible for the Informationsdienst Wissenschaft.

    idw makes lists of experts on selected topics available for journalistic research for the first time (to complement the idw expert mediation service).

    idw offers an RSS feed and announcements under news embargo for the first time.

    Individual statistics for each press release facilitate monitoring by the press offices.

    idw launches the idw Award for Scientific Journalism.

    The idw Award for Scientific Communication, the accolade for the best press release of the year.

    idw has a presence on Twitter.

    idw has a presence on Facebook.

    Complete relaunch of the idw website. An image database is added as a new service allowing users to conduct targeted searches for images separately from the press articles:

    idw is the media partner of the science year; the cooperation is to be continued in 2015.

    Weitere Informationen: - About the idw - Workshop Program


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    Organisatorisches, Wissenschaftliche Tagungen



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