Siphoning the firehose

1 minute read

Bora Zivkovic leaves ScienceBlogs and reminds us of the imprint that blogging has made on some careers in the last five years. Reading his thoughts on blogging and media, I found some similarities on something written by Richard Fernandez today: “The best of times”.

Editors of the future, if they still exist, will be graduated from Carnegie Mellon, Caltech or MIT rather than the Columbia School of Journalism. The journalists themselves I think, will be replaced by what may be called embedded sensors in place. The age of scribbler is over and the age of the literate practitioner and whistle blower has just begun. Interior debates within the industry, the professions and government will soon become the primary source of news. The primary challenge of reporting in the future will be to find entree into a circle to which one does not belong in order to write a story as an outsider. Absent that the insiders will generate the story on their own.

In science, the firehose is open: Everyone publishes research, some very good, some bad, much useless. It’s written in an obfuscating language, much of it in journals that are accessible only to the select.

The “embedded sensors” are important – giving perspective on how science is done and what may be coming next. The best science journalists are writing those stories, some of them almost are anthropologists of science.

At the same time, every scientist of note is already an aggregator, choosing articles to read, to discuss in journal clubs, and possibly to cite. We’re all editors of a sort, but few take the time to be good translators.