Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The state of blogging: part2

We have a confession. You have all been part of an experiment in social engineering and blogging. This has been in the planning for a while now. But let me step back and explain the purpose of our blogging experiment before we analyze the results.

You'll notice that the comments on our site appear right on the main page, that's because we believe that the conversation about science is more interesting than the posts. We believe that through reason and introspection blogging can become a kind of meta-conversation, a way to further knowledge and foster discussion. Recently we've been discussing science blogging a lot in the bay and came to the conclusion that the landscape is in transformation. We also realized that we had many diverging assumptions as to what constituted science blogging, and what role in can play in society. This is led us to wonder about who blogs and who reads blogs. And it turns out to be mostly the same people. This overturns one particular assumption that blogging is a sort of soapbox, a type of lecture with a speaker and many listeners. No, I postulate that blogging is mostly a conversation.

This in turn made us think about who controls the conversation, and I think that increasingly, in the small world of science blogging, ScienceBlog is a dominant figure. What happens when the conversation is dominated by a group of vocal individuals under a collective banner? What happens when the group is a commercial entity? Is independence preserved?

This led us to devise a simple (and unscientific) blogging experiment. We wanted to see how scienceblog can polarise a discussion on the science blogosphere. This of course meant that we would have to capture their/your interest. We decided to ask what science blogging is, and word the post in a controversial way so that it would elicit a response from top bloggers, and more specifically ScienceBlog bloggers.

We then made predictions. Does being part of a group stunt the ability of members to be introspective and question the motives of their own organisation? would any form of criticism stir things up and spread rapidly across Scienceblogs with a uniformed voice. We were also wondering if reasonable scientists would turn into raging commenters spewing ad-hominem attacks. Finally we were wondering if top bloggers would post this story or ignore it, letting the smaller bloggers fight their fight.

Well we learned a lot from this small 24h study about what motivates people to blog, and how bloggers view the role of science blogging.

First of all, out of 33 comments (excluding ours), only 12% resorted to ad-hominem attacks, which shows a good degree of maturity and intellectual integrity.

Two thirds offered criticism of the ideas being expressed, sometimes constructive, sometimes not.

18% showed some kind of introspection, questioning their motives or challenging their assumptions.

Now lets see what happened on other blogs.

10 blogs linked to the story, and interestingly, of those blogs singled out in the post, only Sandwalk put up the post. [edit: so did pharyngula].

4 of the 9 linking blogs were hosted by ScienceBlogs. Of those, 3 were willing to critically examine ScienceBlogs.

1 Blog was created for the sole purpose of testing the idea that focused science blogging about peer-reviewed research in a particular discipline can attract readers.

2 blogs examined in dept what science blogging should be about. And they did an excellent job. Hopefully they won't mind me quoting them:

BPR3 says: "

But if that's the case, then why should there be any attempt to control the content of blogs? Isn't that what ResearchBlogging.org does? I'd submit that there's a critical difference: Bloggers are under no obligation to write posts that meet our guidelines. They are free to submit posts that they believe do meet the guidelines, but they aren't required to. You can sign up for an account at ResearchBlogging.org and never write a post that meets our standards. As long as you don't attempt to get your post aggregated, you can maintain your account indefinitely.

ScienceBloggers are actually required to produce a certain number of posts per week, and ScienceBlogs has the (rarely invoked) right to shut down blogs that don't meet that requirement. But ScienceBlogs has no restrictions on the type of posts its members write, which makes the first requirement less onerous

I think both commercial sites like ScienceBlogs and independent blogs are critical to the online dissemination of science. Independent bloggers are free from the restrictions of a commercial site, but they might not attract as large an audience. A large audience for science blogging is important not only because of the potential for bloggers to make money, but also because of the public service the science blogging represents. If commercial blogs can expand the readership of science on the internet (even if it also increases the number of political/religious rants), isn't that, on the balance, a good thing?"

Omphaloskepsis says:

"Most science bloggers have other commitment apart from blogging. As one person said, the only way the justify blogging is by calling it outreach. And outreach should go beyond the people who would normally read peer reviewed science. Outreach involves reaching out to the people with a casual interest in science. Outreach involves producing content that would be of interest to people who don't normally read about science.

writing about creationists and kooks is important - when scientists say "intelligent design isn't science", the public needs an explanation. And debunking the latest nonsense is valuable. There was a time when people could wait for books to be published or for talk.origins to be updated. But blogging has become the medium of choice. This is even more important for a blogger like Orac - the amount of quackery in medical fields is overwhelming. A site like Translating Autism is great in that it bridges a gap from technical journals to the public, it only gets things halfway there. Orac is another step, but we need more to reach the Oprah crowd."

Thank you for your attention, sorry if I angered anyone, and I hope you continue commenting about the role of science blogging, and the motives of the ScienceBlog corporate entity.

Edit: even though the 24h has passed I decided to include PZ Myer's contribution to the debate. He is after all the 800lb Gorillaphant.


53 comments:

Anonymous said...

bullshit...

Greg Laden said...

Very funny. Not bad for a post-hoc bit of back pedaling. Also rather pathetic.

I want to point out that your data are totally screwed. Your data on the comments may be accurate, but not on what else was going on in the blogosphere. You need to use better tools to find out what blogs link to yours, etc. I'm not sure if using accurate data would change your analysis, but it would allow to look slightly more competent. Maybe.

Anonymous Coward said...

meh, we like to stir shit, and we got a good kick out of it. It worked, we got the expected effect, and the conversation has been interresting.

Anonymous said...

My, aren't you clever.

Thanks for once again showing what an enormous circle jerk the world of science blogging is (yourselves included). Science bloggers are truly the "band nerds" of the research world. They think what they're doing is really really important for school spirit and they'll argue endlessly amongst themselves over who gets to be first chair flute, or who gets to dot the "i" in the big halftime formation. Meanwhile, the rest of the research world has better things to do with their time then look at yet another set of pictures of some obscure grad student's cat. Better things like, say, experiments.

Your little experiment was juvenile at best. Get over yourselves already.

Peter Etnoyer said...

I like it. You guys are right in many ways, of course. It was better back in the old days posting for kicks with a 100 plus daily readers.

Money's not really the issue, though. It's the contract, and the readers. Things are different. Maybe you'll see one day. Keep up the good work =%~!

Corey Smith said...

I like what you did here. Too bad Greg Laden seems a little hurt by it, and also these anonymous guys. Thing is I do read a lot of science blogs, I read a lot that don't do much science talk, but the Bayblab is one that I actually get excited when a post shows up in my reader. So, high five I guess?

Maria said...

"Social experiment"? Why can't you just say YHBT HAND like everybody else?

Bayman said...

Well I thought there was a lot of great conversation stimulated and some interesting issues raised. I always enjoy reading comments more than writing the posts, and there's enough food for thought here to keep me busy for a while.

Lim Leng Hiong said...

Oops, I stumbled onto this rather late (had a finicky cell culture and numerous transfections to do...).

Your previous post made me feel guilty about not blogging about more formal scientific materials.

Though I have a line-up of peer-reviewed articles for discussion, time-pressure from benchwork and lack of reader interest is steering me away from more serious science articles, which takes much time and effort to ensure accuracy while making them enjoyable to read.

I wish I had infinite persistence, but personally I am faced with two realities - the need to graduate and the need to be motivated by a robust readership.

Anonymous Coward said...

I'm surprised some people took it so seriously. There was an obvious straw man and some link baiting. But it worked, because some of the ideas expressed were worth talking, and the discussion was healthy. I felt bad that some of the people I really respect took it so personally. So I'm not sure if it's a success or a failure.

Anonymous Coward said...

There seems to be a resentment of ScienceBlog, I'm not sure if its because of its success or because of an impression of insularity (perhaps those are interrelated). There also seems to be the impression by some people that scientists don't hold any special or privileged insight in politics or religion, and may command a false sense of authority when they discuss these subjects. There is also a sense that some scientists feel uncomfortable with the antagonism between religion and science. Not because they hold sympathies to creationism but because it leads to an entrenchment. Those are just some of the issues I saw were raised. I certainly don't have the answers.

Matthew George said...

So this has all been a bit of street theater?

This is sad if it's not true - and even more sad if it is.

I'm not sure which group is more pathetic, the ScienceBloggers or yourselves.

Anonymous Coward said...

What's sad is that it took such epic proportion. We just wanted to stimulate a lively discussion here.

lizvelrene said...

Having never read your blog before these two posts, this comes off as a somewhat desperate bit of back-pedaling.

So I would say, regardless of your intentions, that your experiment was not a success.

Anonymous Coward said...

Perhaps as one of the commenter suggested, we've struck a chord. I really didn't think the big bloggers would bother to link, but I figured some would join in the discussion. I think Coturnix really steals the show: http://scienceblogs.com/clock/2008/02/what_is_a_science_blog.php.

Is a Blog really just a software? interesting idea. It's not a topic, a writer, not an audience...it's a device, a phone.

Matt Penfold said...

I just wish you you described yourselves honestly.

It is clear that rather than being graduate students you are actually rather immature sixth formers.

It would also seem that you skipped the lectures that covered ethics.

Anonymous Coward said...

I guess the difference between blogging and journalism, is that blogging by virtue of being so peronal becomes entangled with personality. Some have trouble discerning between criticism of ideas and insults. It's unfortunate, but it mimics science in away. Many poeple are incapable of taking criticism of their ideas at conferences. Scientists are human afterall.

Matt Penfold said...

"I guess the difference between blogging and journalism, is that blogging by virtue of being so peronal becomes entangled with personality. Some have trouble discerning between criticism of ideas and insults. It's unfortunate, but it mimics science in away. Many poeple are incapable of taking criticism of their ideas at conferences. Scientists are human afterall."

You really do not have any shame do you ?

After behaving like a bunch of spoilt 17 year olds who make an almightly cock up you then insult everyone by pretending that it was all a joke.

Just face, you screwed up, got you backsides slapped by people more knowledgeable and intelligent than you. Integrity is something you have mentioned elsewhere in this debacle. It is a pity you do not understand what it is. If you did you would apologise and go away wiser people.

Ben said...

It seems that this discussion could have been stimulated in a more constructive way, one that would have encouraged the scienceblogs.com bloggers to offer perspective without feeling attacked.

Just take a look at the ScienceBlogs combined RSS feed. Right now, I see posts on the neuroscience of jazz, graduate student recruiting, autism, the evolution of iguanas, the psychology of homosexuality, and the effect of pollution on the endocrine system of male songbirds. Some of these posts are in response to new research papers, others are drawn from the author's own background or the author's response to other blog posts. At any rate, they cover many fields and subfields of science.

There are also posts on Mitt Romney, Answers in Genesis, the Texas school board, etc. Again, these are often in response to news articles, maybe from journals like Science or Nature, but also from The New York Times and other media sources or blogs. It is these posts that you seem to have a problem with.

Alas, I feel like I'm missing the problem. How is blogging about religion and politics not related to science? If your problem is that Scienceblogs has changed to now neglect discussion of relevant scientific topics, I think you are wrong. For example, PZ Myers, and other sciencebloggers, recently blogged about creationist attacks on the teaching of evolution in Florida. Given that the decision of that school-board vote affected the public-school science standards of one of the most populous states in the country, I think the issue is relevant to science.

That's just one example, but it goes deeper. You seem to have a problem with the treatment of creationists. I don't expect everyone to agree with every post in this vane (I often don't), but what these bloggers are responding to is an attack on their way of life, their view that science, education, and rational thought are fundamental to prosperity, happiness, understanding, etc. These are attacks that have increased in frequency over the past few years with the Intelligent Design movement and the increasing perceived legitimacy of anti-science religious views in government.

Given the current state of science and education in the United States, where most scienceblogs.com bloggers are located, it makes sense that some of their blog focus will be put to the discussion of public policy, media, and general attacks on rationalism.

I was originally drawn to ScienceBlogs, and even SEED magazine, because of the "science is culture" motto. I think at least part of the goal of the Seed Media Group (aside from making money, of course) is to emphasize how science is larger than any one paper or data set, that it underlies our government and culture and can inform our decisions.

And again, it's all about what you as a reader are interested in reading. There are plenty of posts on ScienceBlogs that report data, plenty that offer perspective on education and media. All of it, though, is relevant to science.

Anonymous Coward said...

Lighten up! These were just words meant to stimulate a debate. Have you never been on a debate team? Arguing for a position which you do not necessarily hold is a good exercise, and besides it got an interresting conversation going. Does advancing a certain viewpoint for the purpose of debate necessarily negate integrity?

Anonymous Coward said...

I certainly would never insult anyone. I just wrote a provocative piece, but I don't want to be an apologist.

Larry Moran said...

Now I understand why you call yourself "Anonymous Coward."

Goodbye, children. Let me know when you're ready to be grown-ups and take responsibility for what you post.

Matt Penfold said...

"Lighten up! These were just words meant to stimulate a debate. Have you never been on a debate team? Arguing for a position which you do not necessarily hold is a good exercise, and besides it got an interresting conversation going. Does advancing a certain viewpoint for the purpose of debate necessarily negate integrity?"

Given that your initial post was deceptive in nature, then yes it does negate integrity. You were, by your own admission, dishonest.

"I certainly would never insult anyone. I just wrote a provocative piece, but I don't want to be an apologist."

Only we have the evidence that you did.

If you do not wish to be accused of lacking integrity then show some.

I call on you to apologise for your "experiment", to those you purposely mislead and unethically enrolled in your "experiment" and to those bloggers you purposely libelled. By your response we shall know just how much integrity you have.

Anonymous Coward said...

I am in disbelief that anything i said could have been construed as an insult. I said it before, I apologise if I angered anyone. Who knew that writing a provocative piece asking what science blogging is, and what motivates top bloggers with rhetorical questions could ellicit such an angry and bitter response. I wanted dialogue, I got diatribe. My hat to you gentlemen.

Matt Penfold said...

"I am in disbelief that anything i said could have been construed as an insult."

This says more about you than those accusing you of being insulting.

"I said it before, I apologise if I angered anyone."

"Who knew that writing a provocative piece asking what science blogging is, and what motivates top bloggers with rhetorical questions could ellicit such an angry and bitter response."

You insult other science bloggers, all of whom are held in esteem by many, you then claim that it was all an experiment ignoring any ethical considerations, and wonder why people do not react well to what you have said ? I am not sure how you are as a scientists. I can only hope you are better at science than understanding people, becuase when it comes to that you are clearly missing a clue.

Anonymous Coward said...

Perhaps you are right, and I will have to leave it at that. Perhaps merely suggesting that blogging about how creationists are intellectually inferior to scientists is a disservice to science rubs fans of popular bloggers the wrong way. If I am accused of being controversial for the sake of stimulating a debate, then I am guilty as charged of that experiment.

mwc said...

I was on the debate team, actually. I imagine my coach would not have approved of my calling the other team a bunch of money-grubbing attention whores. And, of course, a forensic debate is a highly formalized exercise in which everyone knows that sides are chosen for education, not out of personal desire. Your post did not take place in such a context. In fact, given that the other "side" really does blog on ScienceBlogs, it could not take place in a context similar to formal debate. Moreover, nothing about your post made it clear that you were advancing the viewpoint "for the purpose of debate".

It is natural for those who read your blog to question your integrity as a result of this. Knowing that you are willing to deceive others for your own amusement or "experiments", why should they believe any future posts? Why should they believe this one? After all, how are we to know that this is not also an experiment, or even the real experiment?

Your post was the wrong way to start a lively debate (its personal nature made ad hominem inevitable), the wrong way to perform an experiment, and the wrong way to engage in an existing debate. The only person here who seems to have trouble differentiating between legitimate criticism of ideas and personal attacks is you. You attributed corrupt motives and ill character to actual people. That's not valid criticism of ideas.

Bayman said...

I for one had no idea the first post was supposed to be a part of some sort of social experiment. So, like most bloggers seem to be left wondering, I'm not sure whether this was the AC's intention from the start or a joke made after the fact. So if you feel blind-sided, it could be worse - at least you're not a contributor to this blog like me.

I thought the first post raised some valid issues worth discussion even if it was a little off-base and inaccurate. A lot of people took it seriously, gave it some thought and took the time to contribute (myself included). Framing the thing as a "social experiment" doesn't change the fact that a decent discussion was had, but I can see why it tends to undermine the whole thing by making people feel like no one really cared what they had to say.

In some ways I felt it made a mockery of the whole legitimacy of science blogging itself. Which is a shame because I think the platform does have a lot to offer. I guess it just goes to show that we shouldn't take ourselves too seriously. Or maybe it just means that people shouldn't be taking OUR blog seriously at all. I guess maybe that was the point the AC was really making here. Which is a shame because I enjoy reading people's comments on our posts and linking to the bayblab when I participate in discussions on other people's blogs. And I especially enjoyed this recent discussion with the folks at ScienceBlogs. I will definitely be reading some of you more often.

Anonymous Coward said...

You're right Bayman, the framing was probably in poor taste. The point I was trying to make, is that we weren't taking ourselves too seriously, and just wanted to see what kind of discussion it would spark. People understood it as if I was experimenting on them. Perhaps I wrote this too hastily in between two experiments. But we were deliberately advancing controversial viewpoints to see what kind of ideas would be expressed.

PhysioProf said...

Give these little fuckers a break. Yeah, they're fucking douchewheels. So what? There's no need to go getting all maudlin and shit.

Young whelps lash out at their elders. Their elders kick said young whelps back to the curb. Thus has it always been in the past; thus shall it always be in the future.

The Doc said...

For what it's worth, I think those so vocally dismissing AC as an unethical blogger (Matt) should take an obective look at their own comments and read what the AC is posting.

The man's apologised for christ's sake. Grow a spine, and a sense of your own ethics, and accept it. Has he seriously harmed you?

And what, exactly, was ethically breached in this event? I can name a number of psychological experiments based on initially insulting the subject. If those bloggers are seriously insulted, they should grow a thicker skin.

I personally think this was actually kinda illustrative (if it was originally intended to be what it sounds like it might have been now). Would I have done it this way - no. That's not to say I don't think there is merit in the whole thing.

So far in these comments there has been seven personally insulting ones, almost a quarter of the comments - half of which have come from Matt, and all of which have come after a written apology.

I think that's an illustrative point too.

the rail cmf said...

"the band nerds of the research world" LMFAO

I am following this for one self indulgent reason: I love Ladens blog, and he is one of the few sciblogs that don't practice ideological censorship, or quasi defamation, whereas some of those douche drinkers are prone to slap labels all over people with impunity, failing to recognize how there bias forms their ethics.

Ethics schmethics--they are still searching for what those transient heuristics are, and they want to tell you? BTW here in Minnesota, we actually have a word for the ethical structure many of them adhere to: "Minncest".

Keep up the critique, it's warranted. A little critique of the opinion/ideology driven pseudo social science at sciblogs is fresh air.

BK said...

Impressive.

I shall follow your career with interest.

BK said...

Impressive.

I shall follow your career with interest.

Barn Owl said...

There's no need to go getting all maudlin and shit.

Yes, there's enough "maudlin" on teh interwebz already. Whining, beeyatching, and maudlin. It's puketacular. It gives me the dry heaves, and I already make enough of a mess, what with all the pellets of mouse bones, squirrel claws, matted opossum baby fur, etc. Not to mention the droppings.

If I were a behavioral kind of scientist, I'd follow up on this little "experiment" with some data-collecting. For example, did your posts on bayblab actually change the proportions of science posts from the bloggers?

Corey Smith said...

At the very least we're learning some new insults. Was anybody else getting tired of douchebag? I'm not sure what douchewheel even means, but at least it's variety. Douche drinkers, even better.

the rail cmf said...

There are 90 some variants of douchebaggery reported at

http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=douche

but I would like to argue that "Douchadactyls" should be reserved for the sake of science...

Matt Penfold said...

"For what it's worth, I think those so vocally dismissing AC as an unethical blogger (Matt) should take an obective look at their own comments and read what the AC is posting.

The man's apologised for christ's sake. Grow a spine, and a sense of your own ethics, and accept it. Has he seriously harmed you?

And what, exactly, was ethically breached in this event? I can name a number of psychological experiments based on initially insulting the subject. If those bloggers are seriously insulted, they should grow a thicker skin.

I personally think this was actually kinda illustrative (if it was originally intended to be what it sounds like it might have been now). Would I have done it this way - no. That's not to say I don't think there is merit in the whole thing.

So far in these comments there has been seven personally insulting ones, almost a quarter of the comments - half of which have come from Matt, and all of which have come after a written apology.

I think that's an illustrative point too."

Since the original post was intended to be an socialogical experiment the issue of informed consent of the participants comes up. It is that ethical issue you, and the author, either cannot or will not acknowledge.

As for your claim that an apology has been issued, you are not being honest. An apology has been made for anyone who thinks they were insulted, but an apology for actually being insulting and an acknowledgement that the author libelled other bloggers and set up an experiment without getting prior consent of the participants.


I called on the owners of this blog to make such an apology. They have refused. As far as I concerned lets me know that they are not professional, not honest (not even would be scientists I hope, let us all hope they fail to get their PhDs) and do not know what integrity is.

Anonymous Coward said...

Right, I'll make sure I get approval from the board next time I troll.

Treat Cancer said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Corey Smith said...

Just ask Matt next time, he's an ethics board all by himself

The Doc said...

Matt,

A brief google scholar search located several sociological papers which involved the use of insults on the groups. Now I raise the question again, which you've squeaked around, "What, exactly, was ethically wrong (not 'Questionable' - wrong) with what AC did?”

Informed consent is non applicable, because it is utterly impossible to consent the internet in general. There is no control of who comes onto this blog, and therefore no way to consent each and every person. Potentially, he should have consented those he named. Presumably, if they were so affected, they would consider themselves 'offended' and therefore fall under the 'apology' initially offered.

Unless their Ph.D. studies are in the field of Sociology, there is absolutely no reason to question their ample skills in biochemistry and molecular biology. I suggest that several of your comments above are also uncalled for, and did not involve consent upon those you have libelled, and so demand a similar apology from you.

I also suggest you proof read your comments. I realise they are 'rants' but still, if you're claiming the high ground, it pays to live up to it.

Anonymous Coward said...

ehe, it's not an experiment on insulting people, unless you think gonzo journalist is an insult. I meant experimenting as in trying something on the blog to see what happens. I was critical of scienceblogs for the purpose of generating a discussion about what it means to blog about science and whether getting paid for it changes your perspective. I threw in a little about creationist bashing just for good measure. We had written before about groupthinking going on there (the whole Watson episode), but got no discussion , it was too tepid I assume. And we had just been discussing whether we could engineer a "feud" over at the bayblab to get some conversation going on. I suppose we don't take blogging quite as seriously as some of these guys. In any case, it sure had an impact. I heard a lot of fresh new ideas. Unfortunately it was over the buzzing sound of a lot of angry people who seem to think blogging has ethical implication. I suppose it's a generation gap.

the real cmf said...

Ethics is to Blogging what Free Speech is to the Politically Correct--there is no connection.

Matt Penfold said...

"Informed consent is non applicable, because it is utterly impossible to consent the internet in general. There is no control of who comes onto this blog, and therefore no way to consent each and every person. Potentially, he should have consented those he named. Presumably, if they were so affected, they would consider themselves 'offended' and therefore fall under the 'apology' initially offered."


If indeed informed consent was impossible then does that not tell you something ?

It is clear that too many people who own this blog do not understand ethics. Whilst you cannot be banned from the internet, I do ask you identify yourselves so that your university ethics committees can be informed of your actions. I will leave it to them to decide if you should face any sanction.

I do note that not one single person who owns this blog has the courage to use their real identity. That is telling.

Anonymous Coward said...

By writing that comment you're trying to get a reaction from me. I haven't consented to be subjected to your opinion. You are breaching your own ethical standard.

John Doe said...

I do note that not one single person who owns this blog has the courage to use their real identity. That is telling.

And who exactly are you, Matt Penfold? You're just as anonymous to people reading these comments as the owners of the blog. So you use a first and last name. Big fucking deal. Nobody knows if that's your real name. I could have left THIS comment with that name. Even if it is, nobody knows who you are. How many Matt Penfolds do you think exist? Would it help you if 'Anonymous Coward' told you his name was John Smith? Would he be less anonymous? Get off your fucking high horse.

The Doc said...

Matt,

Honestly, sir, if this was a sanctioned piece of research, then you'd have a tree to be barking up.

My name is Dr Martin Lee. I studied at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand as a Physical Biochemist.

I have nothing to hide, and I would still like to see where the ethics have been breached. You've still not actually answered that point.

Are you also going to grace us with similar identification, or are you going to continue a tirade of nothingness.

It must be lonely being you.

the rail(ing) cmf said...

re: Doc said-->"are you going to continue a tirade of nothingness"

Why shouldn't they? It's fun, and has produced a whole bunch of important discussion.

And BTW it is precisely this kind of demand for 'official' criticism ( "trust the experts") which dooms so much of blogging and journalism in general to obscurity. The experts who blog are so full of opinions, sans research, and subsidiary to it, that the blur in blogs is evident everywhere.

Opinions and rants keep things interesting, and provoke new ideas that fight groupthink. Go Bayblab!

Eva said...

You said "I postulate that blogging is mostly a conversation."
but I don't think that's necessarily the case. Talking is mostly a conversation, but blogging, to me, is mostly a "Show-and-tell". If you look outside the scienceblogging bubble, the most successful/famous/well-visited blogs out there are not full of discussions. They're pictures, links to interesting things on the net, satires, etc. Somehow science blogging has turned into "we need to have serious discussions about science", and if you look at the most popular science blogs, they're all full of text and comments and (yes) discussions. If discussion is necessary for (science) blogging, I don't have a science blog.

Anonymous Coward said...

Interesting. So you're attracted to blogging for entertainment within a subject that you like (science), rather than to be informed. It makes sense, there are already papers for in depth information, and news bytes on Science and Nature websites and the popular press for the digested stuff. I like to talk about things that interest my fellow graduate students or make them laugh. Plus it's a nice platform to experiment on writing, and just have fun and escape the absurdities of being a grad students.

The Doc said...

I'm quite upset that I have apparently dismissed Matt the Troll.

Come back, come back. I want to know what my University said about your opinions.

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