02 October 2014

What ever happened to Open Lab?

I have been thinking about the Open Lab anthology the last couple of days. The annual anthology used to be something that generated excitement in the science blogosphere. People advertised for nominations, hundreds of entries were submitted, and there was a lot of noise when the finalists were selected.

Then, Scientific American publishing took it over for the 2012 edition, and changed the name. That was supposed to be the start of a wider distribution of the anthology. But 
I had to think hard to remember if there had been a 2013 release. (There was, at the end of February.)

And I haven’t heard anything about whether there is going to be one for this year. When you look at the Open Lab page at the Science Online website, the last mention is the release of the 2013 edition. Nothing about 2014.

Maybe this reflects the emergence of new social media. A lot of science conversation that once might have happened on blogs moved to Twitter and elsewhere.

Maybe it reflects the death of Google Reader and other RSS readers. I know my blog reading habits have never recovered since Google Reader shuttered.

Maybe it reflects increasingly professionalized, with an upswing in blog networks by established media brands. There’s no longer the sense that blogs have a credibility problem that needs a showcase to show it’s not just people writing in their pajamas mouthing off, or that blogs are ephemera where the good stuff needs to be archived. Maybe science blogs have just become too routine.

Update, 10 October 2014: Well, now we have an answer, of sorts. A sad one. The Science Online organization is done, no more, and the planned 2015 Science Online conference is cancelled.

The announcement is here.

Knight Science Journalism Tracker has a summary here.

Another update, also 10 October 2014: John Hawks makes some interesting points about blogging in a post-mortem of Science Online. His points relate to whether there was a continuing need for Open Lab. (Emphasis in original.)

ScienceOnline... never really evolved beyond the time when blogs were new. Blogs were quick and nimble mainly because they were small, with few layers of editorial decision-making. This gave them an unmatched power to respond to events, but has limited their reach. The leaders of online science have gone beyond the blog, exploring many other avenues of creativity.

1 comment:

Mike Taylor said...

Let me recommend Feedly. It took me a while to find it, but it's taken over pretty smoothly from Google Reader.