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January 20th, 2007
09:27 am


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Up too early at the North Carolina Science Blogging Conference at UNC. Need to clear out of town by dark: there's a game tonight. (Updated with notes, done)

North Carolina Science Blogging Conference 2007

The main hall is so full it's overflowing. We had the same problem at the first PodcasterCon last January. (Note: Paul Jones [LJ syn feed] says there's another PodcasterCon coming soon.)

Bora starts: main topic of the day is how blogs are being used to promote public understanding of science.

Hunt Willard, director of the Duke Institute for Genome Sciences & Policy [1].

Hesitant about blogging in general, admits probably a lot of it is a generational gap (he grew up and was trained in the 60s and 70s).

Attractive feature of blogging is real-time context. Unattractive feature of blogging is real-time context. Considers the structure of scientific publishing as an exchange of ideas [2] similar to blogging, but over a much longer period of time, and that the structure of review seems to at least remove some of the personal acrimony or ad hominem attacks that can occur in the more rapid email-speed exchange of comments in blogging. Still thinks that public communication or outreach is something everyone in the sciences should at least try, but acknowledges that some people are terrible at public speaking.

Few people are trained to communicate complex scientific and technical ideas in plain English, fewer have an innate ability, and there's a general lack of recognition that this is a problem at all [3].

Peer-reviewed academic publication as the coin of the realm: Willard doesn't see that changing anytime soon, at least in the life sciences.

Interested in the new crop of students and junior scientists, those in their 20s who have never known a world without the Internet. Watch them, watch journals such as the Lancet who are trying to bridge the gaps. Expects the next 3-5 years to be fascinating.

Today there is a conflict between science as an onoing process (experiment, eval, re-eval), and punctuation of publishing. Punctuated events [4]. Blogs may be a way to help cross this.


Adventures in Science Blogging: Conversations We Need to have and how blogging can help us have them

Janet D. Stermwedel

(background chemistry degree, followed by philosophy.)
Willard looked at scientists using blogging to communicate to a wider audience. She plans to talk about what scientists can get out of blogging for themselves.

Community & communication as key ingredients for human flourishing

real communication is interactive, two-way

* Traditional scientific communication
peer-reviewed (back&forth, long timescale)
Conference presentations (back&forth, ephemeral)
Press releases, popular presentations (little back&forth)

* Nonscientists tend to miss that science is a process.
Argues that knowledge prodiction requires good communication with other scientists.
(HE Longino, _Science as Social Knowledge_, 1990)

* Why blog?
Back&forth on short timescale (comments, discussions on other blogs). Sometimes minutes.

Less ephemeral than non-virtual conversations.

Potential to involve people from many backgrounds, geographical locations, etc.

* Conversations that might not be happening elsewhere
new findings,
dispell misunderstandings
share pedagogical strategies

* Political conversations
how scientific knowledge bears on political choices
how politics influences conditions for the practice and teaching of science

* conversations about the scientific literature (scholarly and popular)
scientist to scientist "journal club"
explanation of scholarly papers for non-scientists

* conversations about the tribe
what is it like to be a scientist in a particular field

* what makes blogging a different kind of conversation?
ability to build a virtual community in the absence of critical mass for a "real" community

audience of the willing - no one is a captive audience, the only readers you have are the ones who want to be there

option to control disclosure of personal details

how do I deal with my "real" environment?
who reads this? (echo chamber versus pitched battle)
who's an authority?
what if I get dooced? [5]

A real conversation gives you room to grow
learn something new
understand others' point of view
change your mind

change how
non-scientists understand science
non-scientists understand scientists
scientists understand their own tribe
expand our sense of community

Get the ball rolling
Blog about something you know and are passionate about
don't duplicate your output elsewhere
invite people you trust (online, realworld) to read and comment
If not ready or want to blog yourself, participate in conversations on blogs in your areas of interest

Long discussion on blogging anonymously and possible consequences. Lots of discussion on gender disparity and issues.

Issues about civility in blog discussion, and how to control or moderate or encourage it.
Permanence of the communication allows and encourages the possibility of reflection and awareness of your own words, which can act as a calming effect.

[1] Who I last met at the Lemur Genome Project kickoff last April.
[2] Note: I am paraphrasing heavily, but trying to maintain a sense of what he meant.
[3] Also see "what I do for a living". (*Why* I do what I do is a separate story.)
[4] Very "Is it a wave or a particle?" feel, or I can just namecheck Heisenberg and move on.
[5] Google that word if it's unfamiliar, add a link later if I can. (Added.)

**********LUNCH - RESUME AT 1:15PM***********************

Open Source/Open Notebook Science: Doing Science with Blogs and Wikis

Confusion over "open source", started using "open notebook". In his lab the wiki is the primary source of information, not a mirror of internal content.

Outline of today's talk:

(Note: the slideshow will be up on the Web and linked from that linked page above)

The research article is not always the best way to present a topic.
Make explicit the nature and quantity of work in collaborations
using semantically rich formats (CML - Chemical Markup Language - XML ) & automation - is this a way to the technological singularity (Note: Wha?)

social software is a bridge between humans and automated systems, thinks SS is how to implement this

"The Robot Scientist" (Ross King, Larisa Soldatova)

If computers will be doing research, how will they know what to do?

example: use Google Scholar, search chemistry section for "what is needed now", "what is most needed", etc. See what people say is important.

Use blog as notebook: one post per experiment. Didn't work well with students.
Blogger for example will let you change a date, backdating can be a problem for publishing priority.

Better to use wiki to organize info:
Tell the story of the failures, why they failed
(for example, that the info they started with in peer-reviewed journals was incorrect)

Dates on server, not easy to forge or alter.

How are people finding our experiments?
Sitemeter - he likes using free services online whenever possible to make it easier for others to replicate his claims or his work

InChi - way to represent a molecule, text-based, unique
Chemsketch (free program) reads both SMILES and InChi

The Synaptic Leap - Open Source Biomedical Research
UsefuChem blog, wiki, molecules, experiments



Use main blog as integrative tool - summarize what's going on in the wiki, reference other lit, etc.

JSpecView - another free app

Raw experimental data:
openwetware.org -several different wikis for research groups, have lots of general protocols, lab notebooks

find wikipedia more reliable than several of the textbooks he's used.

Speaker worked in nanotech before chemistry. [1]

new feature Google Co-Op - specifies a certain number of sites you trust to do searches in. Free feature with a gmail account. Can block out sites that you *don't* want the results of.

[1] Ah, that explains the singularity reference at the beginning.

"Emerging technologies and how bloggers can lead the national discussions about the ethical, legal and social implications"

Before-session handout and survey asking if the topic of nanotechnology or the reputation of the Durham Museum of Life and Sciences (presenters) affected my decision. Umm, based on the total absence of either in the session title, I'd say "Not at all".

Starts with slide illustrations showing what nano- means, as in 10 to the minus ninth. If I'd known this was going to be nanotech for the layman, I'd have attended another session. Pfui.

After an introductory lecture on nanotechnology and nanoscience, the organizers have us doing "group discussion exercises" discussing some handout questions after dividing up the room into four groups. They admit they don't know the blogging community well, and are using the discussion as a way to learn themselves. I'm not getting much out of this. This feels like I've walked into a focus group on nanotechnology to help the museum design their presentations for the museum: a good goal, but the title of the session was wildly misleading to me and is in no way what I expected.

So, three of the four sessions good, one I would have walked out of as not interesting to me if I hadn't set up in the far back corner of the room - but the logistics of evacuating the entrenched position were cumbersome, and I did have a live Internet connection for mollifying me.

Now, open chat amongst ourselves. Do I drive to Dunn or not? First though: home.

Update: Not Dunn. wanted to be there at dusk. Try again some other time. Now what?

Current Music: babble

(3 comments | Leave a comment)

(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]
Date:January 20th, 2007 07:13 pm (UTC)
What? The only thing going on at the conference this evening are dinners with like-minded people. (I may not do any of those: I have a field-recording exercise I'd like to do tonight that involves driving to Dunn for about an hour or so, but I might not. Depends.)

Oh, context: you mean a show in Chapel Hill. 506/Nightlight/Cradle? The game starts at 9, so 7-9 and 11-12ish are probably the worst times. There's that improv fundraiser at King's tonight.
(Deleted comment)
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Date:January 28th, 2010 10:07 am (UTC)

Re: christian louboutin

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Date:February 5th, 2010 03:35 pm (UTC)

Re: wow....

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