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Social media have become increasingly important tools for communication, and no less so in the world of the Earth sciences. The “geoblogosphere”, a collection of blogs written by geoscientists, began to grow quickly about four years ago and now encompasses more than three hundred blogs in multiple languages. The blog Magma Cum Laude
(http://blogs.agu.org/magmacumlaude) was first published in 2007 among some of the earliest geoblogs, and is now part of the AGU Blogosphere, a widely read and lively blogging network. Originally intended as a chronicle of the author’s time in graduate school and interest in volcanology, Magma Cum Laude’s content has expanded to include science outreach, philanthropic ventures and interdisciplinary communication. In the process, the author has learned a great deal about how to develop and maintain a science blog, and how to integrate blogging with the demands of being a student and geoscientist.
Geoblogging can be rewarding and fun, but it should also be approached with concrete goals and a clear understanding of potential drawbacks and difficulties. Geoscientists using social media have created new pathways for collaboration, peer review, science communication, and commentary on current events, making geoblogs a powerful supplement to ‘traditional’ research processes. In addition, geoblogging breaks down barriers between scientists and the public, demystifying research and giving the scientific community an opportunity to prove why its work is important. Geoblogs also have a lighter side - at any given time, there are a number of lively competitions,
memes and conversations going on in the geoblogosphere. But like any social media outlet, blogging can present challenges, such as maintaining a good flow of content, integrating posting into a busy schedule, and dealing with interpersonal, employer and public responses. It is important to understand what these challenges entail, and how to deal with them, in order to utilize geoblogging to its considerable full potential.