02 August 2010

Pssssst! Science bloggers

Hey fellow science bloggers,

This is just between you, me, and the lamp posts. Got it?

You remember Virginia Heffernan’s New York Times article on science blogging last week? Yeah. It was bad. She totally deserved to be called on it. She’s made at least one follow-up since, but it probably ain’t going to convince many people.

I’m tellin’ ya, though... don’t brush her off completely.

Yeah, let’s criticize that she didn’t get past the first impression of science blogs. We should expect Heffernan to look before leaping – she writes for the Times, after all, which still has a certain reputation as a paper of record and quality. But let’s not pretend that her impression ain’t shared by anyone else.

For instance, she took heat for recommending a climate denialist blog. But that’s not the first time that blog got recommended by people who ought to know better. That tells me there’s something we can learn there.

When we read Heffernan’s piece, we don’t like it. She was bound to get a lot of, “You don’t know what you’re talking about” (which, like I said, she earned). But she’s not getting as much, “Would you like to learn?”

Now, because she is a public figure, and counts people like David Dobbs among her colleagues, we might be able to convince her we ain’t so bad. Win for us if we do.

But a lot of us are probably just going to give her up as a lost cause. “She didn’t like the science blogosphere? Tough noogies. Good riddance.”

Bora nailed it when he wrote about the power that the Science Blogs website in particular had, but it’s true for the rest of us. There’s probably a lot of other people who have reactions like Virginia, but don’t blab about them in such a public forum. So they go away all quiet-like, and nobody makes the effort to reach out and invite them back.

We can do better than, “Don’t let the door hit your ass on the way out.”

(Chad, David, and I seem to be on the same wavelength here).

Oh, and that photo? Taken by korafotomorgana. Put it on Flickr and let other people use it through Creative Commons.Salt o’ the earth, that one, I’m tellin’ ya.


Dan said...

I just read that article. A little bit aggressive to say the least. I thought the idea of blogs was for people to express their opinions. The formal science can be done in the journals. But thats just my opinion.

Chad said...

(Chad, David, and I seem to be on the same wavelength here).

I think we are, more or less. Here's my response this morning.

David said...

yep - nice to know we're not alone on this one. I think the stakes are so high, that we're really at a critical time in our culture and our politics. we have to do more to engage here. This problem has developed and entrenched over several years, even decades, and it will take a lot of time and effort to make things right.