In recent years, the online media and the use of the Internet has grown exponentially due to the widespread and growth of technology. Goods and services have started to become available and easily assessable online. People can purchase goods and merchandise from their favorite stores on different websites in the comfort of their own homes. Stores are even setting up worldwide delivery and shopping has never been easier. Even food can be delivered into the comfort of one’s own home via a few clicks of the mouse.
Schools and universities have also incorporated the online media into the curriculum. In UWA, students are given assess to online lectures and the freedom to choose when to listen to the uploaded lectures. The Internet is so prominent that it is crucial to know how to use it to our benefit. Hence, scientists are stepping up and publishing blog entries to get in touch with a larger audience. Blog entries give opportunities to individuals to express their view on a given subject and the liberty of sharing an idea (like how this blog entry is supposed to influence and generate comments from my fellow peers). But how does blogs open up areas of science for the public? Trench’s (2012) article on Scientists’ blogs: glimpses behind the scenes explore this question.
I like how Trench describes blogs as ‘More conversational internet media, specifically as web logs (blogs)’ (Trench, 2012). So, what goes on behind the scenes? Or how does communication affect the conduct of science? To answer these questions, we would have to first look at the growth of science blogging, the benefits of science blogging, features of scientists’ blogs, and the special case of climate science.
The slow growth of Science blogging
The number of blogs has grown increasingly as more and more people get involved into the blogosphere. In most cases, bloggers write about entries related to their areas of interest, sharing information and opinions about a particular subject. Some academic researchers have ventured into the area of blogging, but those are mostly subjects on literature, political philosophy, and popular culture. The topics of natural science are hardly blogged about, and science blogs still remains as a ‘niche activity’.
Uses and Impacts of Science blogging
- Science blogging influencing the practice of science. Science blogging allows room for discussion and generation of new ideas.
- A form of communication between the science community and general public. This allows interaction with the audience, engaging them with different topics and building relations in the process.
- Putting a ‘human face’ to science and health related issues. Science blogging allows the scientist to give his or her own personal experiences and opinion and the freedom to express accordingly.
Features of Scientists’ Blogs
- Good web conduct, including proper references, sources and content.
- Frequent updates, to keep readers updated.
- Different types of sources, to spark interest of the audiences.
- All types of information featured, including topics such as controversy and ethics than with science content. This also helps make the topic more relatable for the audiences.
The Special Case of Climate Science
Climate science is unpredictable and seen to have strong political and ethical implications. The area of climate science is strongly associated to the media, as the change in climate generally affects everybody, and weather is a highly talked about topic. It is noted that blog entries about climate change politics are mostly highly opinionated with subjective judgments from the writer which may not be 100% scientific accurate.
With the rise of the online media, it is definitely easier to reach out to a larger audience through the use of technology. Hence, scientists have to keep up with the new age of technology and incorporate the usage of the online media to publish their works. I personally think that online interactive media further helps to spark the interest of the public (as compared to boring journal articles that are just words and numbers). What is your take about scientists’ blogs? Do you think it is effective in sparking the interest of the public?
9GAG. (2012). Chemistry Cat [Image]. Retrieved October 11, 2012, from <http://s3-ak.buzzfed.com/static/enhanced/terminal01/2011/7/26/11/enhanced-buzz-14281-1311694183-9.jpg>
Trench, B. (2012) Scientists’ Blogs: Glimpses behind the scenes. Sociology of the Sciences Yearbook, 28(6): 273-289.