Just like we learnt to dissect frogs in biology to learn what frogs are all about, here we dissect science blogs and find out what is happening within this sphere of cyberspace.
What is a science blog?
Who writes them? Who reads them?
What are the forms of communication used: facts / reports / opinion / critique / others?
How effective is it in public engagement with science?
All these questions are explored in an article which sampled 174 posts and 1409 comments from 11 science blogs.
Among the things in this study that stood out for me were:
Science blog readers: mostly from the scientific community or who have “some relationship with science”. This indicates there’s not as much public engagement in the form of non-scientists.
Too heterogeneous: wide variety of “writing and authoring models” that does not enable it to be labelled a genre on its own. The only similarity is some science content. This variety of “forms and content” becomes a challenge instead of an opportunity for public engagement in science.
“Water cooler” environment: these blogs are often a forum for light banter and trivial evaluations and arguments, more of a conversation you have with mates at a water cooler. Also presents a sense of community where a stranger (new person) may feel awkward to join.
Integrated effort: to make science blogs more effective the author suggests joint effort by scientists, journalists, educators and other stakeholders to encourage more meaningful participation
Why would you visit a science blog?
Apparently if you are not a scientist or have no background in science you most likely have never visited a science blog! Do you agree?
And if you are one, your visits to a science blog would be more for entertainment than for rational discussions, what do you think?
**would like to say a quick welcome to Tom (from Fitchburg, MA) 🙂 i wrote up this post way before i got to know you are following our class blog and what a coincidence that your blog is called “dissectingpublicscience.com”!!
Kouper, I. (2010) Science blogs and public engagement with science: practices, challenges and opportunities. Journal of Science Communication, 9(1): 1-10.
Water cooler image: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mainman/2799055684/?reg=1&src=sharev3