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Below I’ve created several groups of tweets from the second day of the ScienceOnline2011 meeting.

SCIO11-logo

After each group of tweets I’d added a few brief thoughts, which readers are welcome to comment on. I’ve added a few shorter comments in square brackets–emboldened to make them easier to find–immediately after some tweets.

I’m not strictly following the meeting sessions, or chronological order, or meaning to provide comprehensive coverage of what was tweeted on a particular topic here, but gathering a few ‘points in space’ centred around a theme.


On writing and blogging

Unsurprisingly this topic got a lot of tweets! Metablogging and all that… If you think I was keeping an eye out for Ed’s tweets on this subject, you’d be right. I’ve stuck ‘calling bullshit’ tweets into the last section of this post; this section is more about general ideas/advice. (I’ve culled it fairly heavily.)

glorialloyd glorialloyd
by drowningkittens
Tom Levenson: Be as critical and curious about craft of writing as you would be about science.
[Agreed. I have a post in the works doing just this, starting from an article Carl Zimmer put up in preparation for the ScienceOnline2011 meeting.]

edyong209 Ed Yong
. @marynmck Legacy media, for all faults, had an ethical code, aimed at making journalism as fair as possible (not objective, fair)

edyong209 Ed Yong
. @marynmck – Disclose if you quote someone you know or have a relationship with. Only takes few words.

edyong209 Ed Yong
. @marynmck – If you know people, even if no money changes hands, influence can. So worth mentioning.

edyong209 Ed Yong
. @praeburn discussing ethical guidelines from Am Soc of Mag Editors http://bit.ly/f5N1KC It’s not that difficult. #scio11 #pepsigate

edyong209 Ed Yong
. @tvjrennie talks about @marynmck using the word “disclosure” when disclosing stuff as a specific, explicit flag to the reader

edyong209 Ed Yong
. @praeburn talks about ScienceDaily – press releases not news. Often mislabels stuff #scio11 <- THIS. Also for Futurity, Physorg etc.

edyong209 Ed Yong
. @marynmck – If you lift a quote from a press release, then at the very least link to that press release from the quote.

docfreeride Janet D. Stemwedel
What are networks’ quality control strategies w/respect to journalistic stds?

edyong209 Ed Yong
. @ivanoransky More we let ppl say things like “This’ll be in clinical trials in 5 years”, more we’re guilty of spreading bullshit

edyong209 Ed Yong
. @ivanoransky Be skeptical of skeptics. Be as skeptical about things that agree with your worldview as those that don’t. #scio11 <– THIS

edyong209 Ed Yong
RT @hundun2: No, be MORE skeptical. RT @ivanoransky Be as skeptical about things that agree with your worldview as those that don’t.

robinlloyd99 Robin Lloyd
by BoraZ
Maia Szalavitz says to write quick web pieces only if you have expertise in area. take more time if it’s new topic for you.

pzmyers PZ Myers
by BoraZ
A sudden silence settles over the blogosphere. RT @kzelnio: RT @docfreeride When you blog, DON’T BE STUPID.

edyong209 Ed Yong
. @scottros – Started site called http://mediabugs.org/ for people to report media errors. Can have same on every site.

BoraZ Bora Zivkovic
#scio11 @scottros on MediBugs and a plugin for Fact Check, or some other way to make it easy for people to report errors

edyong209 Ed Yong
. @praeburn – It’s one thing to score debating points but another to foster understanding.

edyong209 Ed Yong
. @ivanoransky – worth developing yourself as a source that you have expertise but no vested interest in #scio11

cpikas Christina K. Pikas
Audience member keeps pushing journalistic standards for blogs boo #scio11

docfreeride Janet D. Stemwedel
@DrCraigMc Some blogs/networks not trying to be journalism! (Also, what’s wrong with scientific stds?) #scio11

quinoat KerstinH
RT @VivRaper: @JoshRosenau: if a columnist writes wrong stuff – offer to write sth. Editors receptive: controversy sells newspapers

The ethics of writing to me seem largely common-sense once you think it through. I think the main thing, then, is to think it through!

In a similar fashion to Tom Levenson’s point (first tweet), trying to put yourself in the shoes of journalists doesn’t hurt either.

Away from ethics itself, a couple of pet peeves that come to mind as I’m writing:

  • Blog posts that are barely more than press releases. It’s easy to get caught up with local/national pride here. Pimping the local thing has it’s place in the trade magazines that I get in my PO Box in that they’re pretty much understood to have an advertorial aspect, but I prefer science blogs to hold themselves to a more critical standard.
  • For my own writing, it’s frustrating sometimes to be releasing what really is a first draft. It’s a mixed blessing, with good points as well as bad.


Blog networks (or not).

Oddly, perhaps, this is not a topic that really appeals all that much to me, despite being within a (small) network and being guilty of mostly reading from networked sources.

ScienceSeeker should help spread reading to smaller networks and independent bloggers.

edyong209 Ed Yong
by oystersgarter
Look basically you can be on a network or not, no right answer, pros and cons of both. Amirite?

docfreeride Janet D. Stemwedel
Is size of network important for bloggers, readers? Do readers interact more with network or blogs that happen 2 b in them?

DrCraigMc Craig McClain
’@tdelene: Apparently blog networks have a carrying capacity can get so large that “community” unravels. #scio11 (panel consensus)’ so true

nikkigee nicole garbarini
by NerdyChristie
@science360 news serviceby @NSF wants bloggers to submit their content! Contact the editor via http://news.science360.gov

docfreeride Janet D. Stemwedel
@SFriedScientist says that what the admin can sanely handle also sets upper limit to network

AndreaKuszewski Andrea Kuszewski
by NerdyChristie
Apparently, in this new world, loud wins–even if it isn’t correct.

WhySharksMatter David Shiffman
#Scio11 Some networks want to limit number of blogs to foster community, @the_gam is limitedby @sfriedscientist ‘s sanity WRT tech support

docfreeride Janet D. Stemwedel
@rpg7twit Beyond a certain number, can’t keep up with each other.

ideonexus Ryan Somma
If you’re in a coalition and you’re comfortable, you know it’s not a big enough coalition.-Bernice Johnson Reagon

cpikas Christina K. Pikas
Not necessary to be on a network for exposure- you have to write well. Also like geo & ocean have a community w/out a network

docfreeride Janet D. Stemwedel
@cpikas Some blogs won’t be big-traffic blogs, networked or not, b/c of their subject matter (small niche readership)

lyndellmbade Lyndell Bade
Like me! RT @docfreeride: In addition to content of post, @SFriedScientist mentions control of look of blog (impt to some bloggers)
[One example might be Deborah Blum’s shifting to PLoS Blogs; her ’personal’ site has a distinctive look'n'feel that ties in with the subject of her latest book and most of what she writes on.]

docfreeride Janet D. Stemwedel
@DrCraigMc Network might not matter as much to traffic as whether you have quality content. #DSN indy, recognizedby MSM

docfreeride Janet D. Stemwedel
@alokjha A media network can work with its bloggers to bring their pre-existing large audience to the blogs #scio11

docfreeride Janet D. Stemwedel
@sciliz on challenges of raising visibility of blogs of any size in scientific community that tends not to see blogs at all
[Promotion by science media centres and academic societies may be one solution. Sciblogs.co.nz highlights are listed in the daily Royal Society of New Zealand email newsletter for example.]

jeff_foust Jeff Foust
Claim made in science blog network session at #scio11 that MSM only notices blogs that are part of networks. Not my experience.

docfreeride Janet D. Stemwedel
@BoraZ : editor’s picks on sidebar across networks (using #ScienceSeeker eventually) as way to get networks interacting w/each other

[Sciblogs (our lot, that is) have one at scienceblogs.com, for example: look down the right sidebar, below the NYT picks.]

docfreeride Janet D. Stemwedel
@BoraZ Networks also good 4 bloggers who want 2 break into pro science journalism/writing (visibility, pressure to professionalize)

docfreeride Janet D. Stemwedel
What’s the advantage of being on network rather than being indy? @BoraZ says visibility to MSM is one

docfreeride Janet D. Stemwedel
Fact that there are lots of networks means that exerting control on bloggers may lead them to look for a network that won’t

mjrobbins Martin Robbins
Heh RT @docfreeride: Guardian bloggers given lots of training on the legal issues; their posts proofread but not edited for content

docfreeride Janet D. Stemwedel
by KateClancy
@BoraZ : bloggers are very independent #understatement

docfreeride Janet D. Stemwedel
@DrCraigMc : one reason #DSN left Discovery Chennel: editorial control that wasn’t in the contract; dark days of the blog.

docfreeride Janet D. Stemwedel
How to make networks better for everyone (bloggers in them or interacting with them, MSM, sci writers, readers, public)?

For what little it’s worth–and it isn’t worth much–I favour integrated presentation of distributed efforts. Locally, most of the blogs represented on sciblogs are actually syndicated feeds from otherwise independent blogs. On a much wider scale ScienceSeeker collates science bloggers from everywhere.

I’m not saying there is no a place for networked blogs, there is. One win for blogs directly hosted on the network is the administrative support  for those wanting a shorter learning curve and some of the maintenance time taken off their hands. Different people will see different value in this. In my personal case this is a mixed blessing and I will probably move to syndicating to sciblogs at some point. For others, I suspect particularly those who write less often, the (partial) ‘service’ model will suit them better.

Another is the moral support the ‘back channel’ provides. (Being the private conversation between the bloggers on the network behind the scenes.) This isn’t to be underestimated. The first time on the ‘other’ side of the fence can be disconcerting, even if you’ve been reading and commenting on blogs for years.


Calling bullshit – and letting go!

DaveMosher Dave Mosher
by NerdyChristie
.@JoshRosenau + @chrismooney_ say feel out person before defending science; engage weak anti-science people, not energetic die-hards

VivRaper Vivienne Raper
by showjumper42
Chris Mooney mentions great academic studies showing refuting misinformation sometimes strengthens people’s incorrect beliefs

ajebsary Adrian J. Ebsary
@AgeofAutism accuses @chrismooney of being spoonfedby drug industry and he asks, “Where is my money?”

TomLevenson Thomas Levenson
RT @alicebell: #scio11 @ChrisMooney_ taking an evidence-based approach to this classic: http://xkcd.com/386/ (Chris says “just go to bed”)

edyong209 Ed Yong
by yutakashino
RT @oystersgarter #scio11 Problem with calling bullshit is often fighting a compelling story with your boring ass science facts.

edyong209 Ed Yong
. @praeburn – Calling bullshit on the web doesn’t work very well. Brings up CFS/chronic lyme arguments on the KSJTracker

edyong209 Ed Yong
. @alokjha makes great point that if you call bullshit on MSM story, need to get it in MSM. Not just among yourselves. Use networks

edyong209 Ed Yong
RT @oystersgarter #scio11 Problem with calling bullshit is often fighting a compelling story with your boring ass science facts.

edyong209 Ed Yong
. @carlzimmer says debunking posts are always there on the internet as permanent reference material

ajebsary Adrian J. Ebsary
by AndreaKuszewski
To conclude, @ChrisMooney_ points out that sometimes you just need to know when to go to bed – not every fight worth winning

Anyone who has faced trolls will be familiar with these issues. If you write on certain health-related topics, or on topic religious interests rally against, you face them, but it also extends to the general claims made in the main-stream media (MSM) that you oppose.

One annoyance I’ve faced is having written on one aspect of a topic, for advocates to come rolling in pushing their interests on another aspect. While you can’t really enforce comments too tightly, it’s nuisance if you are trying to encourage discussion on the aspect you wrote the article about. (My article on presenting on-going science stories in the media used the putative XMRV-CFS association is an example of this.)

Another is a tendency of some commenters to assume that you are putting yourself up as a target for them to address, rather than someone writing an article that they can read and take away what they wish. Blogs do have a distinction of being able to ask questions of the author. It’s a good thing, but I sometimes feel there is a need to educate some readers that comments sections are just as much (if not more so) a place for them to discuss the article amongst themselves; not every question (or objection) has to be pitched at the author!


Loose bits

Colo_kea Kea Giles (Asmus)
Aud mbr: I don’t want to produce more scientists; they’re going to compete w/me for jobs -I do want more sci awareness & involvement

BoraZ Bora Zivkovic
by McDawg
If you don’t want to miss registration for #scio12, sign up on the #scio11 mailing list: http://bit.ly/e66BUo

Colo_kea Kea Giles (Asmus)
by geotripper
Goals of getting undergrads to write blog posts? Improve their science comm or improve their understanding of science? Or both?

lulucrumble Louise Crane
by edyong209
Rowan wins RT @rowhoop: @alokjha Why does Chewbacca speak in moans and groans but understand English? IS HE A DAILY MAIL NEWS EDITOR? [Another question asked in a tweet was why Chewbacca wears a crossbow.]

TomLevenson Thomas Levenson
by BoraZ
.@drskyskull #scio11: big deal — history of science gives scientists deep insight into methodology of science. <– this. [I’ve written a little on this. Science careers are busy enough it’s easy to not bother learn the long-term perspective.]

j_timmer John Timmer
by PhilipPalios
e-book limitation vs. real books: ability to read/run e-books and book apps in 50 years is pretty unlikely. [Open data formats are a key to a lot of things to my mind, more that open source software in many ways.]

[I stopped at this point, partly as because as my twitter connection decided enough was enough, and so did I!]


Other articles on Code for life:

Finding platypus venom

Career paths, redux – the academic research career is the exception

Writing tip – avoid promoting particular booksellers…

How long does it take you to write a science blog post?

Seeking science-y reading?