December 22nd, 2008
We can be more general and ask what is the point of blogging, with a million answers, positive and negative, or other flavors like science fiction blogging, but I want to focus on science blogging in particular in response to a very interesting post about The Shock Value of Science Blogging.
Bora Zivkovic’s Blog Around the Clock post is a long skreed about the shortcomings and abuses of traditional science communication mechanisms (formal papers and conferences as well as science journalism) and the ways in which science blogging challenges them. Particularly, it allows a clear and direct way to attack big name dinosaurs who are sometimes not as competent as they seem within their own element, and a way to bypass and perhaps drive extinct science journalism which is so often very bad.
I consider myself a part-time science blogger. I have a variety of related interests I blog about here that includes science, astronomy in particular, science fiction, fantasy, superheroes, education, cryptozoology, and sometimes politics. Mainly I just write about things that get me excited, positively or negatively. If I don’t have strong emotions about something, why write about it?
The blogging for me is an opportunity to articulate my thoughts about the things I think are important and to share them with others, hopefully leading to everyone involved learning something in the best case, and providing a momentary diversion in the worst.
About science in particular, I share many of Bora’s beliefs. The formal scientific language is not for the lay people to understand, and science journalists are often horrible. My fiction-writing background makes me appreciate very much the power of informal language. Sometimes it is appropriate to point out that the emperor has no pants, the elephant in the room, and to cut to the chase. There are a lot of people who hide behind formalism and politeness all the while saying the nastiest things imaginable, and they deserved to be called out so everyone can see what they’re doing.
I don’t think we should get rid of politeness completely, but it is NOT always appropriate. Blogging is a very appropriate venue to be direct and honest. Blogs are not generally beholden to commercial interests, and their audiences can leave if they don’t like them. Speaking truth to power, however, that’s a great thing that they excell at, which should be cherished.
I’m going to try to interview scientsts, astronomers most likely, about their work more in the future. I’ll also start discussing some of my work as well, beyond just the press releases. It’s something honest, unique, and interesting I hope. If it isn’t, I should stop doing it.