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Christina's LIS Rant
Sunday, March 25, 2007
  Science Blogging, Public Communication of Science, and Public Intellectuals
I've spent all day (literally) working on a literature review for an upcoming (hopefully) study of how and why scientists use blogs. I'm going back through previous research on blogs in general, personal web pages of scientists, informal scholarly communication, personal information management, and public communication of science. All fascinating stuff -- that's the problem, really, that I keep getting lost and wandering off :) Now I'm just fried so I have to go work more on IR stuff (ha!).

Anyway, to the point(s). First, Lamb and Davidson (2005) found that senior researchers don't pay attention or really worry much about web presence -- they want to be known by their publication record and sort of think their time could be better spent. They found that junior researchers searched for people's web pages and also maintained up to date and detailed personal web pages. This is interesting given Barjak's (2006) findings that senior researchers and those who were more productive used the web more. I think there are some details there to tease out.

My other point is how much I enjoyed reading Cohen (2006) and Gregg (2006).
Cohen (2006) discusses the criticism of blogs as narcissistic and/or as (poor/new/revolutionary) journalism. He argues that blogs are an emerging thing which is "subjected to the gravity of the familiar" - IOW that they really are different and the views of 'public' is different but they are judged as if they are trying to be something else. They straddle this public-private thing... well if you're interested, you had better read the paper, because my toasted brain can't do it justice right now. (of course, your library has to have a subscription to the journal for you to read it)

Gregg (2006) brings up how scholars blogging make the work life of the scholar banal and ordinary (her words). This struck me as Kyvik (2005) was saying that one of the reasons for public communication of science is to make visible the invisible work of the scientist - non-scientists don't know what scientists do so may be less pro-science and less likely to fund science. Anyway, she also talked about institutional constraints and views of "professionalism" getting in the way of public communication of scholarship and public intellectualism (I went on a whole long side trip there looking for more information on the exact definition of public intellectual and getting involved in French history....) I guess in her field, cultural studies, there's been a lot of criticism about not being "out there" enough. Also, lots of really good stuff here, which I am, at this point, incapable of summarizing.

Barjak, F. (2006). The role of the internet in informal scholarly communication. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 57(10), 1350-1367.
Cohen, K. R. (2006). A welcome for blogs. Continuum: Journal of Media & Cultural Studies, 20(2), 161-173.
Gregg, M. (2006). Feeling ordinary: Blogging as conversational scholarship. Continuum: Journal of Media & Cultural Studies, 20(2), 147-160.
Kyvik, S. (2005). Popular science publishing and contributions to public discourse among university faculty. Science Communication, 26, 288-311.
Lamb, R., & Davidson, E. (2005). Information and communication technology challenges to scientific professional identity. Information Society, 21(1), 1-24.

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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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