Wednesday, January 21, 2009

ScienceOnline'09: Web and the History of Science

My one fun-just-for-me-with-little-direct-applicability-to-my-job session of the day was the history of science on the web session that immediately followed a yummy lunch from Saladelia Cafe. (Wait, I should clarify: all the sessions were fun, but most I chose because there was a strong professional correlation; this one was just for the fun!) Moderated by GG, Brian Switek and Scicurious, this session appealed to me, someone who loves history and is fascinated by science (even when she doesn't always understand it), and got me thinking that this might be an angle to plug with grad students who express interest in blogging but don't know where to start...hey, look at that, potential job applicability!
  • The Giant's Shoulders: monthly blog carnival about classic science papers
  • so...why is the history of science important?
  • interesting to dig up "lost" bits of science history
  • one of the earliest researchers on cocaine was Freud; first to propose drug replacement therapy (although is plans wouldn't have worked...); many researchers in this field don't know this
  • as some fields get older/more involved, forget people who started it all because core facts become gospel so well known it is no longer necessary to cite
  • people cite review rather than citing original article
  • good way to show how science actually works and doesn't work
  • fun way of showing "humanity" of scientists
  • great way for scientists to develop research/writing skills
  • rewriting of history to mythologize history and bring into current aspect of field to frame paper occurs
  • scientists in 1700s and 1800s had day jobs and did science in their basements because it was cool; granted, they were often independently wealthy...
  • doing/explaining/highlighting history of science helps people understand modern science; however there is a risk of showing science as something that is constantly marching forward to the truth
  • get mistaken impression that science publications have to be complete packages
  • JSTOR is a good source for historical papers
  • public really involved in science when it was changing a lot (1870s-1930s) [need to reclaim!]
  • lots of pop sci books coming out are focused on history of science
  • by telling people how science is weird can also explain how it works
  • reporters are reading blogs and blog stories do get picked up by traditional media
  • if beginning blogger, will help build your reputation if you blog about the history of your niche
  • older papers are going into PubMed, PMC because being republished
  • scientists ideally writing for clarity which helps when translating


Laelaps said...

Hi Molly;

I'm glad you enjoyed the session! You seem to have gotten a lot from it and I hope that the history of science provides a good place for grad students to not only start blogging but to better know their discipline. Feel free to e-mail me if you want to chat more about some of the topics you bring up in this post.

Molly Keener said...

Thanks, Laelaps. I'm not yet sure if/when/how the library might assist our grad students get into blogging, but I'll definitely take you up on your email offer when the time comes!