Blogimmuniqué: who are you?

By Grant Jacobs 05/07/2010 18

It’s not easy for bloggers to know who their readers are.

It can feel like sending a signal off into space, wondering what kind of life-form will pick your message up.

Other readers probably wonder who their fellow readers are too.

This thread is to encourage this little community to find out who they are by telling others a little bit about themselves and what brought you here.

Don’t feel you have to identify who you really are if you’d rather be anonymous.

I’ve put up a few questions up as openers. Don’t feel you have to follow these.

You shouldn’t have to register in order to comment on my blog, just bowl in. (I don’t get to experience this oddly enough, so I have no idea how easy it is to comment.)

1. What are you?

Scientist, scientist-turned manager, graduate student, science writer / science journalist, …
If you don’t fit into life’s square boxes, just write what you consider yourself to be.

2. Do you visit Code for life,

More than once a week? Roughly once a week, month…
If this is the first time you’ve ever been here, welcome!

3. What content brought you to Code for life?

More-or-less articles fall into: bioinformatics, science writing & communication issues, natural health remedies, science trivia, …

Perhaps a particular topic?

4. What technology brought you here?

E.g., Twitter, Google news, web search (google, bing, etc.), the RSNZ newsletter, a link from someplace else, …

5. What sort of posts would you like to see more of on Code for life?

6. If you had one question to ask, what would it be?

Anything. A serious science question that’s been bugging you. Something the annoying neighbour said.

Don’t ask for the meaning of life. We know the answer to that.

7. If one feature were improved on sciblogs, what would you want it be?

If there is some other random thing you want to say, go ahead.

Have fun introducing yourselves.

It’d be nice to know what kind of life-forms I’m sending my messages to…

Other articles on Code for life:

Describe your fantasy institute

Friday round-up: zombies, cats, embargoes, XMRV papers

What is your relationship with your research notebook?

Royal Society publishing free to read, 1665 — today

To link or not to link: mainstream media and no links at all

18 Responses to “Blogimmuniqué: who are you?”

  • 1. What are you?

    An English Literature student in my mid 20s, previously worked in media. In that youthful ‘No idea what my future holds’ stage.

    2. Do you visit Code for life,

    I visit here and bioblog probably weekly, sometimes more often.

    3. What content brought you to Code for life?

    Natural health articles, iirc, dragged me in. I know I found my way from bioblog originally. It might have been a post on chiropractic?

    4. What technology brought you here?

    After Alison Campbell’s blog became part of this platform, I found yours and several other great blogs.

    5. What sort of posts would you like to see more of on Code for life?

    That’s a tough question. I’ll leave that for others. I enjoy most of the posts, it’s great to learn. I’m curious about NZ reactions to the broader ‘framing’ debate, but then again, I’m not sure I want to read more on it. I just left a corporate environment and I’m happy to leave communications experts’ murky plans behind.

    6. If you had one question to ask, what would it be?

    I’m gay. I’ve read Bruce Bagemihl’s Biological Exuberance. I’ve read a lot of blogs. But I’ve never found a reasonably coherent, accessible discussion of *current* theories about homosexuality. I know there’s a consensus swirling around genetic predisposition, and I’m also aware that it’s a Huge and Complicated Issue. I guess, I’d ask: what are some of the more popular theories of homosexual origins in the scientific community? I feel self-indulgent even asking this. Heh.

    7. If one feature were improved on sciblogs, what would you want it be?

    The latest post stream on the front page has a confusing layout, and sometimes it’s not very clear which posts actually are the latest.

  • (Yes, that is to say I didn’t find Bagemihl’s theory of ‘biological exuberance’ very coherent. A great compendium of research. But I couldn’t help suspecting it was being a little wild-eyed in places too).

  • Thanks for writing, Matty.

    I guess, I’d ask: what are some of the more popular theories of homosexual origins in the scientific community?

    I’m not sure how much use I’d be at that one. A thing about being a scientist is that, naturally enough, you tend build on your background. You tend to — well you try to remind yourself to — limit yourself to what falls within your thing. I tend to work from the molecular level. (Maybe after all these years I’m still a Lego block kind of guy?)

    A quick look in PubMed shows a couple of slightly older papers that look interesting to me from a science point of view (not the larger sexuality issue, but fussier details stuff). The problem with me writing about these for a general audience is that I wouldn’t be able to put them into context of the larger research setting they fall within, or at least not easily.

    That said, I might (no promises!) look at them if I find time.

    Being a ‘high-level’ trait, you’d suspect (i.e. this is a hunch) that has a very wide range of causes, so that there isn’t “one cause” that “explains” homosexuality, but a (large) collection of different causes, with different causes playing their part in different people.

    But I couldn’t help suspecting it was being a little wild-eyed in places too.

    Maybe that’s why the publisher decided to call it Biological Exuberance ?! :-)
    (With the emphasis on ‘ exuberance’.)

  • I’m a computer programmer in my mid-forties. I subscribe to New Scientist, and like to read about Scientific discoveries. I have an RSS feed on Sciblogs and read all new posts, without differentiating the different blogs overly much. I got onto Sciblogs via some commenters referring to Sciblogs postings while correcting some climate change misinformation on Poneke’s blog.

  • Hi Brent,

    I think I can see how you got here 😉

    Nice to hear that you read all the blogs. (Me, too.)

    NewScientist feels a bit of a mixed bag to me, these days, but then I get my kicks from reading around the literature and the summaries of new findings there. You might like following Nature News, just a thought.

  • I am a botanical scientist, into-well, most things, but I’m very geeky about the paleobiogeographic history of southern NZ. Oh, and roller derby, love it!
    I visit Code for Life as part of Sciblogs, first discovering the site through the Royal Society of New Zealand’s Science in the News list, which I subscribe to online.
    I have no complaints about the content- any emphasis on quality science communication is great. I enjoy the opportunity to read over a wide range of subjects, and particularly being able to read more deeply through links.

    6. If you had one question to ask, what would it be?
    For that question to be answered, I need a time machine- you don’t have one I can borrow do you? :)

    7. If one feature were improved on sciblogs, what would you want it be?
    Sometimes Sciblogs is a little hard to navigate around- but in the same way that many multi blogger sites are. More pictures?

  • Hi Serra,

    Ah! – you mentioned you refereed roller derby once earlier, didn’t you? (In reply to that scientists’ other lives post.) A bit hard to forget 😉

    I don’t have a time machine — you could always ask The Doctor — but maybe you could ask your question anyway? Speculation is always fun :-)

    About the pictures, do you mean within the blog articles, or on the “main” pages?

    I like some blogs that feature lots of pictures (a few over at scienceblogs come to mind). I find it takes me a surprising amount of time to find images that are appropriate to the story. Other bloggers seem to just throw random, but fun, things in as visual asides of sorts.

    Sciblogs has recently added a pictures feature (on the lower left of the main page), which takes you to a flickr photo stream you can browse.

  • 1. What are you?

    Many things. project manager, grad student, consultant, father, quasi-buddhist, gardener, sometime-coder, community organiser, human, trouble-making hippie…
    Specialisation is for insects, as Heinlein said :)

    2. Do you visit Code for life,

    Dunno, depends – you (all of Sciblogs) just appear in my feed and if I like the headline, I click… Sometimes it’s you, sometimes one of the others.

    3. What content brought you to Code for life?

    Some of your discussions on the desirability of stopping homeopathic and other alt-med treatments in pharmacies, I think.

    4. What technology brought you here?

    Google Reader. Can’t remember what brought you into my feed – some blog may have published a link, and as I liked what I saw I found the RSS feed.

    5. What sort of posts would you like to see more of on Code for life?

    You’re doing fine so far.

    6. If you had one question to ask, what would it be?

    Oooh, no pressure!
    My kids say “What is the biological basis for human appreciation of music?” Well, they went a bit beyond “appreciation”, but then they’re keen.

    7. If one feature were improved on sciblogs, what would you want it be?

    When things get busier, threaded comments. But for now, nothing really.

  • Hi rainman,

    You’re doing fine so far.

    Thank you, but also “Hmm”. Maybe people don’t get me right here. I’m not asking for flattery, as much as it’s appreciated :-)

    I’m wondering what topics, etc., interest people. I can sort-of see this from the stats on who visits what posts, but I have a sneaky suspicion that this is clouded (statisticians would say confounded) by if the title was catchy or not, or (for certain) if the article was promoted elsewhere.

    Oooh, no pressure!

    Well… I could squeeze harder… :-)

    My kids say “What is the biological basis for human appreciation of music?”

    From memory, there are studies relating how we hear sounds to what we consider appealing.

    When things get busier, threaded comments. But for now, nothing really.

    On really busy sites this is a help and I like them there.

    Here I think that all is needed is for the comments to be numbered, or some other way for people to easily refer to previous comments. For now, anyway. Adding the full date/time would be another way to make it easier to refer to them. Just loose thoughts.

    I have to admit at times I think that threaded comments might separate, say, those that want to talk about the media issues and those that what to talk about the disease I used as an example, so that one group is less likely to bother the other. Or something like that. But that’s a minor quibble for now.

  • I’m wondering what topics, etc., interest people.

    I understand. But perhaps we want to know what interests you? I’d hate you to only post things that I’m interested in (to take this point to absurdity) – for one thing that set changes frequently and for another, well, it’s not your blog then, and you’d probably soon become fatigued. You’re clearly a person devoted to your work (or maybe just an insomniac… 😉 – so tell us about the stuff that makes you go “Wow!”… Or maybe teach us plebs things you know in depth. Or do a teaser about some interesting (to you) field that we might then be inspired to go read up on.

    Authentic blogging is the best blogging if you ask me.

    One other thing for #7, although it may not be a “feature” as such: I enjoy fairly robust and open debate. Civilised, polite – absolutely, and always – but the best discussion to me is one that engages comprehensively and openly with both participants views. (Unless they are a million miles off topic, perhaps). I like to be challenged, and I like to challenge, in turn. It’s the only way to learn, I find – and I have indeed learned much from online debate (and hope I have taught a bit too).

    Sometimes, though, I sense that is not a commonly held view!

  • One other thought: you could put a “Rate this post” control on each page (the bottom, after the article is read), and analyse the data to see what your audience likes… Perhaps less “confounded”?

  • rainman,

    My interests are very broad, and biology covers so many corners. If you are interested generally in the details of life, as it were, you find interesting things everywhere. That really isn’t about any one thing, if you get what I’m saying.

    My specific research interests as narrower, of course. There is a lot of depth to any tiny area in science, so research interests pretty much have to be tightly focused. I mean to write more on that side of things, but generally I write off my detailed interests as a break from work!

    Robust debate can be good, but two things:

    1. In the order: discussion, debate, argument, I very strongly prefer the former. Debates, in the proper sense of the word, are — in the end — about “winning” rather than looking at the substance of the matter at hand. One of my very first few posts on science journalism was about critical analysis not debate 😉—critical-analysis-not-debate/

    2. I’m happy to listen to related issues and help people, but — and not that it happens to any real degree here — when people come in with their own interests and essentially try use the comments as a platform for their own interests, I’m inclined to leave them to it. (Just to be clear, I’m writing about the broader situation on the ’web, not here.)

  • Thanks for the reply Grant.

    That’s as I expected, I understand the limits of specialisation. I’m just another human wanting easier answers than there actually are. :) I’m still fascinated by the science of the sexuality debate, only because it’s a socially contentious part of myself. It would be nice if the scientific discussion, lofty as it is, was more accessible. But I guess by dint of its complexity it never really will be.

    Also: The Great Subscription Wall of Academia. Thank goodness for PLoS-ONE!

    I loved rainman’s question about music.

    Thanks again for your blogging. I look forward to reading much more.

  • Have to admit I had hoped to drag a few lurker out of the woodwork, but they seem to be staying timid — true to lurker form :-)

    (Hey, I was a lurker once too…)

  • I know, you used to lurk at my place :-)

    I like visiting your blog because you write about all sorts of different stuff – a bit like me, really, although maybe you stay focussed on one subject longer than I do? I tend to write to my original ‘target’ audience but also, a bit, to please myself :-) I think you have to do that cos otherwise it would get a tad tedious. Not the actual content, but the act of turning it out, I mean!

  • I know, you used to lurk at my place :-)

    Well, there you go readers.

    If I can go from lurking a her place (oooh!) to commenting, and then blogging, you can go from lurking to commenting here… :-)

    maybe you stay focussed on one subject longer than I do?

    Funny, I’d have thought it was the other way around! :-)

    About writing to please yourself: There are things too far away from science that I’d write about that would give me (and perhaps readers?) a bit of a break. They’d run counter to sciblogs’ aims, though, so I’ll probably eventually rig up a complementary solution for that.

    It’s not that I get sick of science — I don’t — but it can be fairly hard work trying to come up with something within a particular setting (i.e. science) more-or-less every day.

    Also, I worry sometimes that it must make it as if the only thing I think about is science! :-/

  • Reading Aimee’s own “who re you” thread it occurred to me that I hope my readers have some idea who I am! (If you’ve read me on Aimee’s thread, this is a repeat…)

    I’m an independent computational biology consultant, with an interest in science communication. I get to do a wide range of projects; my own research interests are in epigenetics & gene regulation (esp. chromatin-level control of gene regulation), & new algorithms for bioinformatics.

    I followed quite a lot science blogs about all sort of topics before I started blogging & still try to but I haven’t as much time now that I’m writing my own.

    Away from science, I tramp (hike), read too much and other typical things. Travelling in out of the way places is something I enjoy. (Don’t get a lot of opportunity to, though.)

    I mean to write more ‘real science’ articles, but this takes time… Or at least my approach to it takes time. (I rarely read just the paper I’m writing about, and do a lot of other stuff, like fact-checking and reading around the subject randomly.)

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