The Science Blog meme: why do we blog?
November 17, 2008 2 Comments
There’s a set of questions going around concerning the “science blog” meme, which started over at Nature Network and has since been picked up by dozens of science bloggers. It’s probably good to do a bit of reflection every now and then, and now seems like a good time because 1) it’s been just almost a year since I started blogging for reals, and 2) my dissertation proposal is due tomorrow-ish, so, well, you know.
1. What is your blog about?
Man, just the first question and already I have to think hard. Well, I started blogging for reals to get a better handle on the open science idea, but I also blog about academia, research questions, bioinformatics, collaboration/science 2.0/publishing/”the future of science” and random science things that I hear about. And then there are the posts about cooking, books, pumpkin carving, Ultimate Frisbee, and whatever else I feel like. I used to try to keep separate blogs for my varied interests but I was having trouble with the upkeep – and, frankly, I’m not expert enough in any one thing to maintain a focused blog – hence the knickknackery of this one. Kind of like The Omnivore’s Dilemma (“just blog. not too much. mostly science.” ?)
2. What will you never write about?
Like I wrote above, I pretty much will write about anything that interests me. I thought I would never write about politics but I got kind of wrapped up in this year’s election (hard not to do) and had a couple light but political posts. I try not to write about gossip though there’s a fine line between gossip, controversy, and scandal in the blogosphere. So I don’t really know. I haven’t tried to define my blog too much so I’ll avoid doing it here.
3. Have you ever considered leaving science?
Like many others have said, leaving research – yes, leaving science – I’d prefer not to. This is actually a very relevant question for me right now since I’m most likely finishing my PhD in less than a year and will have to find something to do. I am almost certainly leaving academia, and probably leaving research. But it’s hard to see myself leaving science, especially now that FriendFeed gives me an easy way to stay abreast of all that is exciting in science.
4. What would you do instead?
Make plants grow, be artistic, make artisinal breads and cheeses, decorate homes, become a better writer, work with animals, design something, sing in a band, .. oh, what I would do? Not what I wish I could do.. which is all these things in which I have no background or training. Hmm, well I’m not really sure what I would do instead. But I hope I find something. Talk to me in 10 months.
5. What do you think will science blogging be like in 5 years?
I think it will be much more widespread, and as Eva mentioned, there will be specialists like the “calcium release bloggers” or the “chemistry bloggers” – heck, we already have those – and we’ll have science journalist bloggers like those people who write for Slate and Salon and Politico. Maybe we’ll even have a science version of the Huffington Post – not necessarily a good thing. We’ll also have more grad students and professors blogging, not necessarily open notebook science, but just writing more about their research or life in the lab or musing about science. Maybe we’ll actually have regular open peer review of research through blogs. Maybe papers will come out as incremental blog posts (these are more on the 10 year plan). Who really knows.
6. What is the most extraordinary thing that happened to you because of blogging?
Simply the fact that I am now a part of a fantastic community of science bloggers and have had the pleasure of meeting some of them in real life – an experience which is now turning into a publication! Zounds! Not to mention just going to a conference and looking forward to meeting and talking with people you’ve never met before is a nice feeling. Also I managed to sucker received immediate support from Cameron on a conference session proposal, who is co-chairing the PSB workshop with me in January. Basically, blogging is networking (or notworking? in multiple senses of the “word”).
7. Did you write a blog post or comment you later regretted?
I’m sure I have. Luckily, most of the posts are still in my “drafts” folder. More often, they’re just simple errors which I’ve been able to correct. Mostly I regret not writing more and not commenting more. But not too much, because it’s not my job.. yet.
8. When did you first learn about science blogging?
I’m really not sure – probably around the time I started blogging for reals myself. I certainly didn’t follow any blogs except for the occasional fluff blog until then. And it was like opening Pandora’s box. Now you’re everywhere – everywhere, I tell you! of course, it could just be a vocal minority. Much more pleasant than most other vocal minorities I can think of, though.
9. What do your colleagues at work say about your blogging?
In general, they don’t really mention it. I think they think positively of it, though; at least, my advisor thinks highly enough of it that it was a piece of cake to convince him to start his own blog! So I’m much more interested in what his colleagues say about his blogging…
And bonus question 10. Have you written a poem about your research?
Does karaoke count? Only tangentially related to my research, more about the grad student condition, really. But no poems written without the aid of Queen, Paula Abdul, or Michael Jackson and friends singing in the background, unfortunately.
And now, I really should get back to writing that dissertation proposal. >_<