Saturday, January 19, 2008

Adventures in Science Blogging

Adventures in Science Blogging: Where Do We Go From Here?
Jennifer Ouellette

-“A blog can be anything we want it to be!”
-science bloggers are a diverse group: by scientists for scientists, by scientists for general public, by writers and journalists, by professional societies, by educators, by media
-tries to tie science in at large level to topics of interest to general populace
-one of the most powerful things about blogs is the community it builds, often engaging with people whom you otherwise wouldn’t have met
-the flexibility of blogs is both a blessing and curse
-how do we take diversity into mainstream?
-personal voice of blogs is a very big plus because it’s more opinionated and subjective than mainstream media; readers will be more engaged
-blogs naturally feed into multimedia
-however, concerns are raised: lack of accountability; lack of editorial oversight; “comment trolls—discussions aren’t always intelligent, polite or productive” (but they are lively and do generate traffic); high-degreed individuals can still spout off nonsense
-people select blogs that fit with their own views, beliefs (act of human nature)
-blogs are a good way of creating cognitive dissonance; eventually you will post something that gets a comment from a “comment troll”
-there are good signs for science blogging…
-bloggers are at threshold where they no longer have to prove themselves
-mainstream media are incorporating blogs
-more scientists are following and authoring blogs
-publishers are actually encouraging blogging
-“bloggers are no longer solely amateurs”
-for science blogging to really take off, people need to be able to do it and make a living; cannot continue as side work
-is oversight needed? Risks “immediacy, freshness, spontaneity” to have vetted, edited blogs
-“user-friendly science” – nice way for blogs to be used
-science journalism doesn’t need to be saved so much as it needs to be advanced
-need to create new financial business models to fund blogging, OA publishing
-use blogs to weigh in on broader issues: policy, politics, religion, annoying TV shows

General discussion
-if bloggers receive monetary compensation risk people getting into it for the wrong reason
-people come to blogs for snarkiness, “air of irreverence” that is so refreshing
-how much longer will distinction between science writers and science bloggers last? Will be continually blurred, as they should be because they are rather arbitrary labels
-strength of science blogs/bloggers is accuracy and expertise; often the mainstream media assign reporters to science stories who don’t have background to accurately assess and synthesize scientific information for story
-blogging is a toy, but must get over idea that we can’t be serious and fun at same time


Julie said...

thanks for all your reporting!! Did anyone discuss strategies for disregarding the comment troll? I know a couple of people who have stopped blogging, and that's giving the troll too much power!

Molly Keener said...

Not in the session's general discussion, although there likely was talk about the trolls during dinner (which I skipped out on to get home a tad earlier). I personally don't think the trolls can be stopped, nor should they as their comments can at times launch better discussions, as well as help the blogger, or other commenters, refine their positions.