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Christina's LIS Rant
Saturday, January 20, 2007
  Science Blogging Conference: Post 2

Janet Stemwedel -- Adventures in Science Blogging: Conversations we need to have and how blogging can help us have them

What scientists can get out of blogging for themselves

Community and communications key ingredients for human flourishing

Trying to explain to people at parties and getting the spinach dip blow-off

Real communication involves a conversation

- establishing common ground through understanding and listening to what the participants know, understand, and are asking

- back and forth negotiation

Traditional scientific communication

- peer-reviewed, some back and forth over a long time scale

- conference presentations, back and forth, but ephemeral because especially at poster sessions, it isn’t captured

- press releases, popular presentations, no back and forth, really

Science is a process not just a product!

“Knowledge production requires good communication with other scientists”

(H.E. Longino, Science as Social Knowledge, 1990)

Why blogs?

- back and forth on a short timescale

- less ephemeral than non-trivial conversations

- can involve people from many backgrounds and many places

Conversations that happen on blogs that wouldn’t otherwise (she showed examples and will blog them later)

- educational: new findings, pedagogical strategies

- political: how science impacts politics and vice versa

- scientist to scientist talks about the literature: “journal clubs”, commentary

- virtual meeting/conference: projects in process

- what it’s like to be a scientist/day in the life, what it’s like in general to be a scientist

- reports from meetings/conferences

- support for women scientists including advice, mentoring

- the practice of science, open access

Many scientist blogs are written under fake names.

How is blogging different than other conversations

- ability to build a virtual community in the absence of critical mass for a “real” community

- “audience of the willing” (no one is forced to read)

- Option to control disclosure of personal information (but may choose to to foster trust)

- Unknown readership (trolls who are looking for a fight? Employers? Family?)

Bad vs. Good

Bad: get dooced, not get tenure

Good: learn new things, and room to grow, change your mind, maybe can get hired (people learn about you and your work)

Good: change how non-scientists understand science/scientists, change how scientists understand their own tribe, expand our sense of community

Where to start:

- blog what you know and are passionate about

- invite people you trust to read and comment

- start by participating on other people’s blogs by commenting

Comment from the audience: some have gotten jobs because of their blogs

Response: right now, it’s still very shaky because tenure committees don’t understand blogs so maybe this will change, but it’s still very uncertain.

Comment from the audience: if you’re trying to add to the conversation, why wouldn’t you sign your work?

Response: many reasons like tenure or fear of being fired, or complaining about poor working conditions, exposing ethical problems

Response (another audience member): sometimes being honest can get you into trouble.

Response (another audience member): I only blog about gender issues in science under my own name because I don’t have a job right now. The women who reply anon. to my posts prove that it is the case that these things happen and they can’t use their names

Comment from audience: building your brand

Response: the blogosphere builds its own authority

Comment from audience: it’s great you have this background in both philosophy and science so you know about both… how do you think social software (more than just blogs) will impact how scientists communicate and think about science [not sure I got her question down right]

Response: things will change as more bloggers move into positions. Also important is “open science”

Response: as more blogs are used in classes, may have more new scientists blogging

Comment from the audience: What’s been missed, scooping articles – he read and commented on an article, scooped the author’s next paper, and was offered a co-authorship (wow!)

Comment from audience: Based on what we’ve seen here about the lacrosse case, what have scientists done to encourage civil discussion

Response: Blogger can to a certain extent set tone by not allowing vitriolic comments. Also, because the comments stay and can be reviewed, misunderstandings can be cleared up. Finally, in her case, commenters are somewhat self-policing

Comment from audience: As a middle school science teacher

Response: You can see what life is like for scientists and talk to real scientists

Geoff Davis - New Challenge: Change Science

Science Policy Blog. NIH, increasing funding, decreasing the number of grants.

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This is my blog on library and information science. I'm into Sci/Tech libraries, special libraries, personal information management, sci/tech scholarly comms.... My name is Christina Pikas and I'm a librarian in a physics, astronomy, math, computer science, and engineering library. I'm also a doctoral student at Maryland. Any opinions expressed here are strictly my own and do not necessarily reflect those of my employer or CLIS. You may reach me via e-mail at cpikas {at} gmail {dot} com.

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Christina Kirk Pikas

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