Why do we blog and other important questions.

I am a member of the Nature Network, though my blog there, Pyrenaemata, has been dormant for some time. That’s largely because I have enough trouble posting (semi-)regularly on this blog and its counterpart at Scientific Blogging (Genomicron 2.0). In any case, there is a forum message at the Nature Network (though I saw it on Sandwalk) that asks a set of questions about blogging that I thought I would answer.

  1. What is your blog about?
    My blog is about science, in particular evolution and genomes. Much of the content of my blog has been about non-coding DNA, and the various myths and misconceptions that this topic entails. I veer into politics infrequently, and I also post some attempts at humour now and then. Unlike several of my favourite blogs (and no doubt to the detriment of my visit count), I do not talk about religion although I do discuss anti-evolutionism.
  2. What will you never write about?
    Never say never — but I made a conscious choice early on to focus on science.
  3. Have you ever considered leaving science?
    Not seriously.
  4. What would you do instead?
    I would probably write. About science.
  5. What do you think science blogging will be like in 5 years?
    I think more professional researchers will join the blogosphere as this becomes socially acceptable. The stigma that poking one’s head out of the ivory tower is not what real scientists do is quickly being replaced by an acceptance that the medium can be useful. I think (ok, hope) that blogs will become a more common source of science news than press releases. That said, I hope there is never any move toward making blogs a venue for actual science, as I believe the peer review system (flawed though it is) is essential.
  6. What is the most extraordinary thing that happened to you because of blogging?
    Nothing extraordinary per se, though more than one interview I have conducted involved the reporter indicating that he/she had found my blog.
  7. Did you write a blog post or comment you later regretted?
    Somewhat. Early on I had an argument with Nick Matzke in which I was a little more adamant than was called for. However, in the end it worked out and we stay in touch. I have also written some posts that I am proud of — the one on Remembrance Day, I have been told, was very moving.
  8. When did you first learn about science blogging?
    My graduate student introduced me to blogs about two years ago. It took a while for me to be convinced to read them (“I’m too busy for that” was probably my mindset), but then I began to see the value for finding information in fields outside my own. Plus, some of them are rather fun. Later, I decided I would try setting up a blog to talk about my research and related work. Voila.
  9. What do your colleagues at work say about your blogging?
    I list my blog in my “service” contributions as I consider this an exercise in public outreach, and that seems to go over ok.

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