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January 2006


There goes the A-list

Half of my secondary blogroll, the rather mass compatible ones that I don't feel like emphasizing because everyone else does - Pharyngula, WorldMunger, Cognitive Daily and Uncertain Principles for instance - moved to, run by Seed magazine. Welcome to the sell out of the blogs.

I do understand why the individual bloggers went, given ease of hosting, professional help with web design and a broader platform of readers. On the other hand, the bloggers are now dragging Seed's shopping cart and there are not even statements about dependence on the farewell pages of the old blogs, e.g. Pharyngula or Uncertain Principles.
After all, Seed needs to make money and while they would not interfere with the content of the hosted blogs directly, let's wait until Seed publishes a somewhat fishy article that bloggers react to - And let's count how many links from scienceblogs go to the Seed news ticker in a few weeks. I found Seed rather shallow so far but I should give them some more time, they just started after all. Oddly enough, there are links from to but no links pointing back.

This is a concentration of opinion and certainly a clever move for the magazine but bad for the overall independence of blogs. I would have preferred if the blogs would have introduced Adsense or the like on their pages to stay independent and spend the revenues on wine, hosting and song. You too can submit an application to Seed to have your blog hosted there - but whack some advertising to your pages, write a witty post about and keep your independence if you ask me.

Content armageddon - when the commercial forces finally battle the defenders of intellectual independence and creativity - is not due before web4.0 later this year. Scienceblogs is not a bad case of it either, just one that shows that bloggers are as likely to go the path of least resistance as everyone else. How dependent bloggers make themselves when joining these networks?
JSinger (guest) - 2006-01-16 18:49

Any actual science in there?

Scrolling through their main page (and cursing that annoying highlighting-on-mouse) -- do you see much actual science in there? There's one thing about malaria, and the rest of it is either creationism/evolution politics or entirely related to science at all.

JSinger (guest) - 2006-01-16 18:50

Sorry, make that...

Err, entirely UNrelated to science...
spitshine - 2006-01-17 08:13

Science and culture

You are right in that the recent content was not very scientific, which we could consider as a sign of indepence really. However, Pharyngula or Evolgen have had valuable scientific contributions, particular those targeted at a broader audience and I would expect that they will return to old highs. Battling ID seems like an important mission though, I just find the ratio of science and anti-ID content a bit tiring.
Neil (guest) - 2006-01-17 03:39

We'll see how they go

I'm not happy with the new-style Pharyngula either and share your concerns about independence. On the other hand I can see the arguments for reaching a larger audience, spending less time on sysadmin and hey, even making money. As you say, let's wait for the first clash of interests with the hosting company.
I'm also an advocate of DIY hosting as with everything else in computing - if you own and control it, it works better for you in the long run and the occasional hassles are worth it.

spitshine - 2006-01-17 08:17

No comment

Well, is that another hint that I should start hosting NftB myself ;-)
Greg Tyrelle (guest) - 2006-01-20 10:35

Popular Science

ScienceBlogs is a network of "popular science blogs" not a network of science (technical) blogs. Since science is my day job, I don't care much for popluar science. Occasionally it is nice to read poplular science articles on different fields but mostly it is just more noise. I see online scientific communication being about less noise.

I know someone has to take up the challenge of defending the Theory of Evolution against the madness of intelligent design, but it is not for me.

I'm toying with the idea of offering hosting on the nodalpoint server to 'bioinformatics bloggers'. The offer would include shell access, pre-configured Wordpress installation and the hope that it will be used to 'experiment' with blogging for science e.g. technical reviews using the structured blogging plug-in etc.

See here for some more thoughts. Your independence is of course not in question if you take up the offer, the idea here is to be open...
spitshine - 2006-01-20 18:14

Let's go...

I can keep this reply short: Count me in.
I've been thinking to move the Notes to a more advanced platform for some time now and want to focus more on bioinformatics and serious non-peer reviewed scientific communication.

That said, I am interested in popular sciences and think that blogging is a nice bridge between the serious research and the popular opinion, possibly better than what many science journalists can squeeze into the limited space the mainstream media allow them to use.
Dave Munger (guest) - 2006-01-20 12:45

Just as a point of information, it's not Word Munger that's moved over, it's my other blog, Cognitive Daily.

Yes, we're there to make money, and yes, we're popularizers, not "serious" scientists, but I do think there's some great writing there -- often better than what's in Seed Magazine itself -- and even occasionally, some good science.

As far as the "dependency" question goes, I know I'm not closing down the old blog site, and if Seed ever does anything that affects Cognitive Daily's independence, I'll be back on the old site faster than you can say "Cognitive Daily."

spitshine - 2006-01-20 18:47

Popular science?

I am surprised that you see the line between serious and popular science that pronounced. Blogs can be an effective way of providing the different levels of detail and impact one would need to communicate sciences to the general public, which is a task of quite some responsibility. Hence my reservation.
Dave Munger (guest) - 2006-01-21 15:14

I guess I should clarify what I meant by "popularizers." Few if any of the blogs in ScienceBlogs are using the blogs as a means to advance or disseminate original scientific research. In other words, we're not getting "publication credit" for what we do in ScienceBlogs. This makes sense -- after all, it's not peer reviewed. This doesn't mean none of us are scientists. I'm not a scientist, but my co-blogger is, and most of the other ScienceBloggers are. When they want academic credit for their work, they publish in peer-reviewed journals. Whether we're scientists or not, we're all popularizers in our role at ScienceBlogs.

But I think "popularizers" do have an important duty to the public, which I think you'll see revealed in my posts on Cognitive Daily. Every day we're trying to show how real science is done, and what can and cannot be said based on scientific research. None of this is news to Cognitive Scientists (though they might look to our site to see what's going on in areas outside of their specialty), but it is to the majority of our readers. By joining with Seed Media, we're expanding the size of our audience, and so showing an even larger number of people what goes in to making real science.

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