Saturday, January 19, 2008

Swarming With Bloggers

Bloggers to the left of me, bloggers to the right. Tap. Tap. Tap. Click. Click. Click.

At the 2008 North Carolina Science Blogging Conference, the explosion of science blogging is immediately manifest. Despite an official winter storm alert -- Oh, no, it’s supposed to snow! Rush out and buy toilet paper! -- some 200 science bloggers and fellow travelers gathered Jan. 19 at the research society Sigma Xi in Research Triangle Park, N.C., to discuss their meat and potatoes (or, in N.C. parlance, barbecue and hush puppies).

After grabbing coffee and rolls, along with a bag of science-and-blogging goodies provided by conference sponsors, we’re breaking into groups to get insiders’ views on an array of topics. Among the early items on the cornucopian agenda: blogging ethics. Do bloggers discussing published scientific papers have an obligation to send people to the journal articles? Can a discussion be based on an institution’s news release on the paper? Is there a need for a “code of ethics” for science bloggers? How about a list of “best practices”?

Other sessions will cover such issues as overcoming obstacles to open science in the developing world, building interactivity into blogs, student blogging from K to Ph.D., dealing with public scientific data, and various practical issues and experiences in blogging about a number of specific areas of science.

As a new blogger coming to this world from too many years in print communications, my mind boggles at the level of enthusiasm and degrees of skills collectively represented here. My hope is to bring away some lessons -- learning by osmosis, if nothing else -- that will help flavor future postings.

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