The Future of Science Blogging and #OpenSciLogs

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The Future of Science Blogging and #OpenSciLogs Paige Brown Jarreau

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First-things-first: What is a blog? A piece of software / platform? “a hierarchy of text, images, media objects and data, arranged chronologically, that can be viewed in an HTML browser.” Comments (?) The “unedited voice of a person” (?) “less formal, more conversational, often with no traditional reporting (but never without research), and aimed at a small but passionate audience.” Blog = an online tool for publishing one’s thoughts, stories, news, links, visual materials, etc. in an extended form, on an ongoing basis http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/whatmakesaweblogaweblog.html Dave Winer, Scripting News https://medium.com/@dankennedy_nu/blog-like-a-journalist-8a4acac100c0 Mike Licht (CC-BY)

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The blog resists definition “[B]logs are now diverse and ubiquitous, and have hit the mainstream.” – Mary Garden, Defining blog: A fool’s errand or a necessary undertaking, Journalism 2012 The uses and genres of “web blogs” have become so diverse that they have become broadly a “socio-technical format, whose convenience and general utility support a variety of uses.” - Herring et al., Weblogs as a bridging genre, 2005

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What is science blogging? a blog featuring primarily content that disseminates, explains, reports, comments upon, investigates, aggregates or otherwise deals with science, scientific research, science communication, science policy, science in society and/or other science-related concepts or events (Wilkins, 2008).

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Where have we come from? Early 2000’s – Early blogging, ‘Fighting Pseudoscience’, Culture Wars, Dover Trial ~2008 – Diversification of blogging genres – ResearchBlogging 2011 – Rise of blog networks at traditional media organizations (Scientific American, Discover, PloS, etc.) 2012 – Social networks for community building Today – Blog as the writer’s 'home' online More attention to the journalist / blogger as 'personality‘ ‘Need for Niche’

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Openness and Spreadability Open Access Spreadable and Creative Commons models Blogging styles that are conversational and open to feedback Trends in science blogging Science bloggers are increasingly handing conversations and content over to others, as well as asking for feedback via social media.

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Rise of a science blog ecosystem

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Increasing role of science blogs and social networks (Twitter) in science communication and science news

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500 recent tweets mentioning “SciLogs” Conversations based on blog content have moved to social media “Today, quick updates, links etc. are done mainly on social media and many bloggers use the traditional blogging software only for longer, more thorough, one could even say more ‘professional’ writing.” – BoraZ, 2012 We can see different “communities” here

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Trends in science blogging Professionalization Science journalism Science blogs are where we are working out the kind of science, scientific publishing and science news we want in the future.

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Traditional functions Debunking Expert opinions Media Criticism Community building among scientists Translation of scientific research New functions Science journalism Sources of science news Curation Critical analysis Discussion of science missing from mainstream media Opening up the science research process Citizen science, etc. Adding value and advancing the conversation around scientific issues xkcd.com/386/ "I spend way [emphasis] more time correcting misinformation than I would like to." #MySciBlog

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"Some of these science bloggers [...] they're basically doing what a journalist doesn't even have time to do anymore.“ - #MySciBlog Research Interview

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What are we blogging about? http://www.scilogs.com/from_the_lab_bench/science-blogging-got-comments/ Data from Merja Mahrt and Cornelius Puschmann: 44 bloggers at SciLogs.de

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What are we blogging about? http://www.scilogs.com/from_the_lab_bench/science-bloggers-and-the-long-tail-of-science-writing/ Science bloggers and the long tail of science writing:

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Bloggers’ strategic choices to deep dive into the under-reported science stories of the week are having far reaching implications for the impact of science blogging. NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, Flickr.com Explosion of alternative coverage of science

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Blogging Something Different

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Blogging something different “[But] "if there's something that everyone else is talking about, and they're doing a good job with, I'll avoid that.” “[P]eople aren't going to come to my blog for the news. They're going to go to a news outlet… So, if I'm going to write about something that's current, it'll only be [if] I can explore something, different about it." "I couldn't really find out the facts myself, from reading the news, so I thought, I'll go ahead and kind of dig it out..." "[I] go through lesser-known journals...for little hidden jems...that wouldn't have made it into the news" “[L]ooking at the other blogs...I think it's important that we cover kind of smaller things that aren't always picked up on" "I really don’t feel like I’m a slave to the news cycle." "If I wasn’t going to have all of those crazy resources [and be able to] interview multiple people [...] it had to be DIFFERENT." #MySciBlog Interviews

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“the freedom of a blog, and why blogs are so much fun to read, is, that you get to know a little bit more of the personality of the person who’s writing it, and what their thoughts and opinions are, and that they kind of interpret things, a bit more.” - #MySciBlog research interview

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Science blogo-journalism Interviewing Editing Fact-checking Social responsibility News values Shareability Scientific values  ”I’ve sort of developed a gut feeling for what I can turn into a blog post, and which ideas won’t work.” – science blogger Signe Cane

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breaking out of traditional roles of criticizing/complimenting science journalism from a corner of the internet Not replacing science journalism, but it’s increasingly a vital component of science journalism. The science blog is increasingly the journalist’s path into science, the scientist’s path into journalism, etc. Science bloggers are the new gatekeepers?

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Experimenting with Science Blogs Multimedia / Lives of Scientists Experimenting with content – Science Book A Day

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“To me, science isn’t about being told by scientists that ‘this is science’ but for people to build an understanding and engagement with science in their own way.” - Science blogger George Aranda, AKA @PopSciGuyOz

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Experimentation in Science Blogs Blogging driven by visuals

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And so, on a blog where you have editorial freedom…there’s nothing more exciting as a writer, absolutely nothing. You can do all of these wonderful experiments, you can tell stories in interesting ways… I mean you still have to do research, and you still have to be – I’m a journalist, so, my stuff is very researched and very fact-based, but then there’s this unbelievable opportunity to just write. - #MySciBlog Research Interview

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The potential of science blogging: for scientists How do scientists write blogs that are taken as seriously as the blogs of professional science journalists? Rise of networked scientist bloggers More community-based feedback, fact-checking, editing and collaborative data blogging? Journalism/Media training for scientists Opportunity to open up the process of science via blogging

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The potential of science blogging: for journalists Blogs remain (and grow as) an integral component of science journalism Building one’s portfolio Opening up the journalism process Enhancing amount of diversity of science news coverage, and web traffic, at legacy media outlets (National Geographic, newspapers, etc.)

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“Everything is changing. The scientific publishing industry is changing. Very traditional publications are embracing social media, and evidence is piling up that this method of communicating should soon seem traditional to scientists.” - Dominique Brossard

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Problems in science blogging How can we bring scientists and journalists together while at the same time paying for more in-depth science blogging and fostering public engagement?

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OpenSciLogs Crowd-funded Participatory, Open Notebook Science Reporting Paige Brown Jarreau & Pratiti Diddi Manship School of Mass Communication

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Crowdfunding Investigative / in-depth science blogging Wiki Journalism Citizen Journalism Spreadability Changing Traditional Media Business Model – Crowd Funding Open Notebook Science

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#OpenSciLogs 1st project: 2nd and current project:

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OpenSciLogs Design Brief Target Audience: A broad science-interested audience, as well as other science bloggers, journalists, educators, students Tone: Open to new ideas and directions, transparent, participatory Platforms: SciLogs blog posts for updates and final story; Google docs or other document file sharing for raw materials, notes, references, links etc.; Social media / Wiki for audience engagement Content: In-depth, critical analysis of a scientific issue or topic that deserves more attention, that readers express an interest in, etc. Conversation: The goal is to spark conversation and participation in the ongoing story, to spread materials, quotes, and story ideas

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OpenSciLogs Concepts Crowd-funding of in-depth “open notebook” story project by one SciLogs blogger every 30 days. Selected blogger, once funded, begins the reporting phase. For each story project, the funded blogger provides all raw data, notes, source information and source contact information (if permission granted from source) in a public Google Doc (or similar public document sharing tool), on an ongoing basis. For each story project, the selected blogger is strongly encouraged to have another blogger, journalist or editor fact-check (for a share of the funding or authorship.) For the duration of each story project, the lead blogger posts weekly short blog updates. Anyone can contribute story ideas, story content and/or multimedia to each OpenSciLogs story project, and are encouraged to claim partial authorship.

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Future of OpenSciLogs Topics of wide public interest? Getting input from audience on what stories they want to see about science in the media Collaboration on science blogo-journalism and investigation of scientific topics across different languages? Crowd-funding of research paired with science communication?

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Can crowd-funding of blogging be successful? Targeting the right audience is key Who will help fund? Who will participate? Finding media partners Targeted social media promotion is key a significant portion of the time and effect in a crowd-funding campaign – Need 100 views for 1 donation

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science blogging Practices – Take the survey! http://bit.ly/MySciBlog

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Images Credits: Feature image: Will Lion: extreme sports and blogging. Flickr. Original Illustration Logo Credit: Lindsay Cade News values, Quizlet Blue Linckia Starfish CC BY-SA 3.0, Richard Ling xkcd.com/386/ Magnifying Glass – PublicDomainPictures Tucker Martin - Science & Technical Writing Shutterstock – SciLogs.com License NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, Flickr.com Mike Licht (CC-BY) Illustration: Dusan Petricic for The Scientist Gideon Burton (Flickr, CC BY 2.0) Will Blog for Money, Voxeros, Flickr.com Crowd, PartiallyHere, DeviantArt ImagesBuddy