Your Daily History of Science


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This is my talk, "Your Daily History of Science: Blogging a Discipline," given as part of the education session focusing on the internet for the History of Science Society annual meeting in Phoenix, AZ, November 19-22, 2009.

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Your Daily History of Science

  1. Your Daily History of Science: Blogging a Discipline Michael D. Barton November 20, 2009 History of Science Society, Phoenix, AZ Teaching [ or Being Taught ] the History of Science Using the Web, Committee on Education
  2. Note <ul><li>assuming a level of familiarity with the blogosphere </li></ul><ul><li>blog = web log </li></ul><ul><li>blogs can belong to a collective, such as Science Blogs or Cliopatria (history) </li></ul><ul><li>one can talk of a science blog “community” </li></ul>
  3. “ Why Blog the History of Science?” <ul><li>Benjamin Cohen ( The World’s Fair ), “Why Blog the History of Science?” Newsletter of the History of Science Society October 2008. </li></ul><ul><li>Cohen discusses his motivations for blogging academic topics “beyond the campus confines,” </li></ul><ul><li>- axis </li></ul><ul><li>refers to his blog as both personal writing and pedagogical </li></ul>
  4. Blogger Responses to “Why Blog the History of Science?” <ul><li>Ether Wave Propaganda (Will Thomas): a “laboratory of scholarship, an experiment to create a sustainable alternative scholarly culture to the one with which we are familiar” </li></ul><ul><li>what can blogs do better than seminar / colloquium / conference / journal: </li></ul><ul><li>- articulation and speculation </li></ul><ul><li>- recovery </li></ul><ul><li>• “ blogging, for me, is not a means of communicating scholarship to a wider audience, or of extending the habits of existing scholarship into new domains. It is certainly not a ‘diary.’ It is an opportunity to bring in traditions from outside scholarship to see what can be done” </li></ul>
  5. Blogger Responses to “Why Blog the History of Science?” <ul><li>Time to Eat the Dogs (Michael Robinson): “When I mention to colleagues that ‘I blog,’ I am met with patient smiles, as if I said ‘I cross dress’” </li></ul><ul><li>offers that blogging has a personal dimension beyond public and professional communication: </li></ul><ul><li>- The Blog as Writers’ Workshop </li></ul><ul><li>- A Blog of One’s Own </li></ul><ul><li>- The Great Coiling </li></ul>
  6. Blogger Responses to “Why Blog the History of Science?” <ul><li>History of Economics Playground (Loïc Charles): </li></ul><ul><li>- freer exchanges </li></ul><ul><li>- stocked vs. ephemeral </li></ul><ul><li>- a “way to speculate about one’s own research and one’s perspective on the discipline” </li></ul>
  7. Other reasons why? <ul><li>corrective to textbook cardboard </li></ul><ul><li>additional context and in some cases corrections </li></ul><ul><li>true value of history of science blogging? </li></ul>
  8. Expletive deleted
  9. The Dispersal of Darwin version 1.0 April 2007 to January 2009, just under 50,000 views
  10. The Dispersal of Darwin version 2.0 January 2009 to present, approaching 60,000 views
  11. What do I blog? <ul><li>Content relating to Darwin, evolution, and other history of science: </li></ul><ul><li>- new books, journal articles, magazine articles </li></ul><ul><li>- online resources </li></ul><ul><li>- news of lectures, conferences, CFP </li></ul><ul><li>- audio/video: Radio programs, podcasts, videos on YouTube, new documentaries </li></ul><ul><li>- my own reviews of books and documentaries </li></ul><ul><li>- Darwin/evolution merchandise/memorabilia </li></ul><ul><li>- photography and artwork (a lot in this Darwin year), generally through the photo website Flickr </li></ul><ul><li>- my own experiences/travel: 2 conference trips this year, research trip to London </li></ul><ul><li>- essentially anything I come across that I think is valuable, interesting </li></ul>
  12. Why do I blog? <ul><li>to find content for my own interests </li></ul><ul><li>to build a reference page for myself </li></ul><ul><li>to share that content with others </li></ul><ul><li>to network with people having similar interests </li></ul><ul><li>to offer a response to threats to science education </li></ul><ul><li>provides daily access (if desired) to the topic </li></ul><ul><li>because it is fun ! </li></ul>
  13. Variety of HoS Blogs ~40-50 blogs focus either specifically on the history of science, or at least contain a good amount of HoS content, including one blog carnival, The Giant’s Shoulders
  14. Informal Survey <ul><li>sent survey to 32 bloggers using an online survey service </li></ul><ul><li>survey included 10 questions about: </li></ul><ul><li>- motivations for blogging </li></ul><ul><li>- audience </li></ul><ul><li>- education/career path-enhancing experiences </li></ul><ul><li>received 21 responses </li></ul>
  15. Quick Summary <ul><li>HoS blogging is done by a mixture of historians and scientists, from the students at all levels to postdocs through professors, as well as an archivist, curator, booksellers, and freelance science writers </li></ul><ul><li>most of these blogs seem to have begun as exercises in personal research or to share content with others, while most fit into a category of self-interest/hobby and less in the pedagogical category </li></ul><ul><li>most seen as open to all, their audience being historians of science, students, other professionals, and the public alike, with a similar mixture generally active in engaging with the blogs through commenting </li></ul>
  16. Question #9 <ul><li>What does blogging offer that cannot be expressed in other forms of writing? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>rapid development of ideas: 5 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>writing exercise: 8 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>ability to write less formally: 4 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>publishing in a non-university domain: 3 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>easy/quick public access and storage: 8 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>close relationship with readers: 2 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>immediate feedback: 7 </li></ul></ul>
  17. Question #10 <ul><li>Do you have any unique experiences related to your education/career path that resulted from writing your blog? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>publications: 8 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>book reviews: 1 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>conf. panel/talk invitation: 4 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>grant panel invitation: 1 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>radio/television appearances: 1 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>networking: 11 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>faculty award: 1 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>event opportunities: 1 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>job searching: 2 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>changing research plans: 1 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>negative results: 1 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>none: 7 </li></ul></ul>
  18. About that negative result… <ul><li>one blogger in the survey shared that their blogging efforts, and other digital scholarship have had a negative impact on their path. The concern is with producing print vs. digital publications, and what a professor finds as valuable to their own career compared to that of their department </li></ul><ul><li>bloggers have had largely positive or neutral reactions, but not all </li></ul>
  19. What about me? <ul><li>history of science graduate student (MA) </li></ul><ul><li>my blog is specifically history of science </li></ul><ul><li>why did I start my blog? </li></ul><ul><li>pedagogical (student POV) </li></ul><ul><li>intended audience </li></ul><ul><li>comments </li></ul><ul><li>what does it do for me? </li></ul>
  20. What about me? <ul><li>Ways my blogging has positively affected my path : </li></ul><ul><li>- networking </li></ul><ul><li>- a forum for sharing my one publication in Yellowstone Science </li></ul><ul><li>- opportunity for book/documentary reviews </li></ul><ul><li>- radio appearance on BBC’s “Pods & Blogs” </li></ul><ul><li>- conference opportunities </li></ul><ul><li>- invitations to events </li></ul><ul><li>- meet-ups when I travel (continuation of networking) </li></ul><ul><li>- for study, I occasionally: </li></ul><ul><li>- supplement school reading with blog material </li></ul><ul><li>- inform fellow students in my department (and elsewhere) about blog material related to their research </li></ul><ul><li>- utilize blogs for finding out more about a topic </li></ul>
  28. Conclusion <ul><li>a definite HoS blogging community has developed in the last few years, part of but different from science blogging community (corrective) </li></ul><ul><li>variety of reasons for blogging about the HoS </li></ul><ul><li>more inclusive endeavor </li></ul><ul><li>variety of advantages to, and opportunities resulting from, blogging, with respect to one’s educational and career goals </li></ul>
  29. And on to the blogosphere… <ul><li>I will post on my blog about this talk, and invite the conversation to continue… </li></ul><ul><li>I will provide: </li></ul><ul><li>- a more detailed summary of the answers in my survey </li></ul><ul><li>- more information I gathered about history of science blogging </li></ul>