Blogs and science communication revisited

Going back in time, looking at old photographs, postcards and letters is something I have always loved doing. And now I find myself going back and reading some of my first posts on this blog. Even though they are still quite new, I still find it amazing to be able to go back and reencounter my thoughts and findings from this summer. With all the information that flows past us in this age of information, it really is amazing to have a place to keep track of a small small fraction of all the thoughts and findings.

My reason for going back in time today was that reading this interesting article “More than a blog” about blogging and sciences made me think of my first posts on this blog about science blogs and peer-reviewed journals and the historical relation between journalism and science communication.

The article “More than a blog” published in EMBO reports gives some interesting perspectives on the role of blogs in science communication. I’d recommend it to people interested in science blogging. It is well written and quite interesting. It would be great if for example public health researchers could be inspired to consider blogging about their own research.

The article takes its offset in a last December’s big news story about the first known microorganism on Earth capable of growing and reproducing by using arsenic (Wolfe-Simon et al, 2010) and the criticism of the article and research articulated on science blogs (Lead by Rosie Redfield from University of British Columbia, Canada).

The article has great links to examples of science blogs. Most of them are within natural sciences (physics, chemistry, biology etc.) but they could serve as good inspiration also for bloggers working within other disciplines.

There are also interesting perspectives on the science blog and blogger by e.g.

  • Bora Zivkovic, science blogger and blog editor of Scientific American,
  • Carl Zimmer, a freelance science journalist and blogger,
  • Paul Zachary Myers, biology professor at the University of Minnesota, and blogger at Pharyngula
  • Jerry Coyne, blogger evolutionary geneticist at the University of Chicago

Below a few quotes from the article by the above mentioned people, relating to what motivates the science blogger.

“Redfield said she finds blogging—even if no one reads her posts—a valuable way to focus her thoughts

Bora Zivkovic: “The number one rule in the blogosphere is you never tell a blogger what to blog about. Those bloggers who started on their own who are scientists treasure their independence more than anything, so networks that give completely free reign and no editorial control are the only ones that can attract interesting bloggers with their own voices.”

Zimmer on the contrasts of the independence of blogging and traditional journalism. “You really get to set your own rules. You’re not working with any editor and you’re not trying to satisfy them. You’re just trying to satisfy yourself. “

Paul Zachary Myers: Passion is an important part of this. If you can communicate a love of the science that you’re talking about, then you’re a natural for blogging.”

Coyne: “Blogging gives you outreach potential that you really should have if you’re grant funded, and it’s fun. It opens doors for you that wouldn’t have opened if you just were in your laboratory. So I would recommend it. It takes a certain amount of guts to put yourself out there like that, but I find it immensely rewarding.”

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