Nature this week has a nice feature article on blogging in science, by Eryn Brown and Chris Woolston: “Why science blogging still matters”.
This marks my fifteenth year of blogging, and so I obviously think it’s worthwhile. I think the process of blogging is a lot like science itself – there are many ways to accomplish something, there are many more very smart people than there are obvious opportunities, and to be a real success, you have to find ways to do things that other people wouldn’t think of.
Of course, sometimes that just means persevering!
The survey uncovered some telling attitudes towards blogs and other forms of science outreach. Nearly two-thirds of respondents said that a lack of time was a ‘great obstacle’ to any sort of science communication.
But almost 70% agreed that communicating science can help to advance a researcher’s career, and nearly 90% said that it could help to recruit more bright minds to science.
I don’t think that blogs are especially good for reaching new audiences who do not already care about science. Blogs can be very good for helping already-interested people keep in the loop about new developments in a specialized area.
What I’ve noticed over the last few years is that a lot of professionals are now writing brief comments on new scientific work on Facebook, and linking to news articles, etc. And that has really yielded a “dumbing down” of commentary. Mainstream reporting on human evolution has actually gotten a lot worse in the last few years.
I’ve been happy to see a number of researchers in the last year or so publishing “blog posts” about their research findings on The Conversation. That’s a nice outlet enabling researchers to share their ideas directly, and gives a much better context for research findings than most media articles. What I’m a bit dismayed by is that these posts do not get shared very often on Facebook and other social media.