28 January 2010

Chittin’ and chattin’ with Open Lab 2009 editor, Scicurious

The Open Lab 2009 anthology of science blogging will soon be upon us, and in the throes of making revisions and such for my entry, I asked if the editor, Scicurious, would take a few minutes to answer a few questions. She graciously agreed!

How did you get the job of editing this year's Open Lab anthology? Did you seek it out, or were you approached?

Bora (Zivcovic) actually asked me to edit this year’s edition, and I was really flattered that he asked. It’s been a big job to live up to, and it’s definitely been a learning experience, but I’m very glad I said yes.

How do you and the judges sift through the hundreds of entries to come down to 50?

The judging process varies from year to year. This year I parceled out posts (no one got their own, obviously) to the judges and had them score for the first round, and then took the top scores to narrow it down for the second round. It was a very difficult process, and the final 50 were very hard to pick!

How important is the mix of selections for the anthology? Do you consciously try to balance out, say, “life as a scientist” posts with pure “research analysis” posts?

We do try to achieve some balance, because I’m sure if you wanted to, you could have an entire anthology on the evolution/creation debates. We wanted a good balance with representation of what went on during the year, but we also just looked for some great examples of writing. But of course, we can't consider a post for inclusion unless its submitted. So if we had low numbers of, say, neuroscience posts submitted one year, it might be harder to get a balance. All the more reason to submit lots of posts for next year! Make sure your stuff gets good representation!

I’ve already started a list of posts made in December and January that I plan to nominate for next year!

What changes get made to posts in the transition from blog to book?

Well, the biggest change is obviously the links, and of course any photos that the writers don’t have the rights to. We also need to look carefully at context, we don’t want all the posts to begin with “so last week there was this blow up in the media/blogosphere/the scientific world.” Other than that, I have been working very hard to make the transition easy, and to stay relatively hands off with editing. What makes so many of these bloggers so incredible is the unique voices that they bring to the table, and so I try to make sure that that unique voice and point of view comes through in the final piece.

Has being the editor for this project been easier or harder than you expected?

I’d say it was about as much work as I thought it would be, thought it has entailed a little more cat-herding than I expected! But I’ve learned a lot that I think will be useful.

Even an editor is allowed to have favourites. Is there any particular entry that you have a soft spot for? (Your own post and mine are exempted from this discussion!)

I might have a favorite or two, but I won't say until it’s out!!

Thanks Sci! Scicurious blogs at Neurotopia.

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