Archive for the 'blogging' category

Science & technology librarian blogs on

A week or two ago, in a comment on the Blogging Groups and Ethics post, I lamented that I always seem to be reading the same librarianish blogs, not mixing it up too much. I wished that we might have a blogging community to assemble around, or at least a good aggregator.

Well, Bora Zivkovic challenged me in the comments to at very least aggregate scitech librarian blogs for the site.

It's taken me a while, but I've done it.

Using the list I previously created for the List of Science & Technology Librarian Blogs I created a Friendfeed group which Bora has since connected to It's about 3/4 the way down the page, in the Aggregators and Combined Feeds of Independent Bloggers section. Thanks to Bora for getting it set up so quickly.

Based on my previous post, here's a list of the reasonably active Science & Technology library blogs I've included. As I said before, I've not included medical library blogs because it's not an area I'm knowledgeable about. That list would make a great idea for a similar aggregator in it's own right, but that's not what I was trying to do here.

In no particular order:

I've also included a couple of institutional blogs that have a bit more of a personal feel:

Read, enjoy, explore -- over at

And like last time, if I've missed any scitech librarianish bloggers, please let me know so I can add them to the Friendfeed group.

Update 2010.12.20: Updated Trading Knowledge to new location and added The Methods Section by Ariel Neff.

4 responses so far

Blogging groups and ethics

Oct 15 2010 Published by under academia, blogging, culture of science, social media

The latest Cites & Insights (v10i11) is out and in it Walt Crawford explores some of the recent developments in the blogging landscape in a section called The Zeitgeist: Blogging Groups and Ethics. It's a very good overview and analysis of what's going on both in the science and librarian blogospheres.

It's well worth checking out. Some highlights:

Blogging Groups and Ethics

Do you blame Roy Tennant when the Annoyed Librarian writes posts that undermine librarianship and libraries?

I'm guessing you don't. Whoever the Library Journal incarnation of the Annoyed Librarian might or might not be, I'm certain Roy isn't part of it. But his blog is part of the same group--the group of paid blogs on the LJ website. Does that result in guilt by association?

The ScienceBlogs Flap

A three-day wonder? Not so much. I didn't pick up on it until mid-July, and the consequences of that briefly present ad/blog continue through this writing, at least indirectly. A few items:

  • Some SB bloggers left or threatened to leave, making their reasons very clear. It appears that more than a quarter of the Sciblings departed within a day or two, including some of the highest profiles. Many have now joined new science blog groups, one of them--Scientopia--formed as a collective of science bloggers, many if not most of them bloggers who left SB. You'll find a good set of early links on departures and changes at and an interesting piece of inside-baseball humor at
  • Dorothea Salo founded a new blog, The Book of Trogool, on SB during the brief period I was there--and wrote "Small fry, blogging networks, and reputation" on July 8, 2010 at that blog. At the time, she and her cobloggers hadn't made a decision--but eventually they did. She has much to say about blogging within librarianship--and it's sobering, if not directly related to this flap:

    [L]ibrarianship is a very difficult profession to blog in. It doesn't like blogs or bloggers, or social media generally, much less trust them or those who engage with each other and the world using them. Because libraries and librarians feel beleaguered, they especially don't like discourse critical of libraries or librarianship in social media coming from one of their own. Library vendors aren't fond of critical discourse in librarian blogs either. For individual librarian bloggers or public social-media figures, this has absolutely meant trouble at work. I'm one example, but very far from the only one--and I earned my problems more than most folks I know in similar straits.

    This leaves the beleaguered library blogger who wishes to continue to blog with a few options. One is to be part of a group blog to create strength in numbers; In the Library with the Lead Pipe is a sterling example (and a fabulous blog; if you're interested in libraries from the inside, this is not one to miss). Another is to adopt some of the trappings of the formal library professional literature, such as length, exclusivity, and beta-reading-oops-I-meant-peer-review. ItLwtLP does this as well. A third option is to find a blog home with enough accumulated strength of character and good reputation as to afford some protection--and now you know why I chose ScienceBlogs.

    Should Liblogs Have Groups?

    Would a liblog group make sense? How would it work? What advantages would better-known and lesser-known liblogs see in a group? How would it be administered? What would make it worthwhile--for bloggers and for readers?

    I don't have answers. Maybe there aren't any. Apparently lots of readers had the ScienceBlogs "last 24 hours" page as a home page of sorts, going there to see what's new in science blogging. When I want to see what's new in liblogs, I bring up Google Reader (I much preferred Bloglines, but that's gone away), usually finding 40 to 80 posts over the last 24 hours--from a range of some 500 blogs. Would I switch to a group page? Would you?

    Awards and Lists

    Some of us who appear on these lists believe that the lists primarily exist so that we'll link back to them, thus bringing lots more people to these sites touting for-profit colleges. I've never provided that link love but many have, and quite a few who aren't on the lists seem to think the lists are meaningful and link to the posts.

    Is this an ethical issue? I'm not sure. I've seen enough dead and nearly-dead blogs on some lists to suspect they're not the result of painstaking current evaluation and research (and, frankly, I'm unwilling to buy that some of those on the April 2009 list could be part of The top 50 liblogs, if such a beast existed). I regard it as a form of linkspamming; others clearly do not.


    I like the idea of "Library Blog Huzzahs." I'm generally unhappy with "The Top X Blogs" lists on for-profit educational affiliate blogs. I don't believe there's any way to avoid rankings and grades: that's the way the world works, and I've done my part. But my liblog studies specifically point out blogs that stand out in one particular metric; there isn't, and shouldn't be, any sense of "these are the best blogs" or "these are the most important blogs." Indeed, one metric that I've carefully avoided listing blogs for is Google Page Rank (I say how many liblogs have high values, but not which blogs those are), and that avoidance will continue.

    Blogging Ethics and Considerations

    Should you think about ethical considerations for your blog? Probably, at least once in a while. Should you state those considerations? Couldn't hurt--as long as you're telling the truth. Should you pledge to follow somebody else's set of ethics--and display a badge or ribbon or something to indicate that pledge? That's a different issue entirely, one that comes up from time to time and always makes me uneasy.


    Did I mention mommyblogs? Meredith Farkas wrote "This is not my blogosphere" on November 22, 2009 at Information Wants To Be Free discussing these blogs and the extent to which they're being corrupted by compensated reviews, that is, bloggers being paid (by a company) to try out a product and write about it. When she read a post with a disclaimer about being a "compensated" review ("paid" is such a harsh word), she was stunned to find that comments weren't from people horrified by the practice--they were people wanting their own freebies and compensation.

    Is Blogging Journalism?

    Just to make questions of formal blog guidelines more complicated, consider that question. Is it? Some bloggers claim it is--and if it is, shouldn't they be expected to follow at least as rigorous ethical codes as professional journalists?

    Eric Schnell asks "Do conference bloggers and tweeters need to follow media rules?" in a June 4, 2009 post at The Medium is the Message. He notes a report from ScienceInsider that Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory is amending its policy for meetings to require that scientists who are bloggers follow the same rules as reporters--which, among other things, requires that they get a presenter's OK beforehand if they plan to blog or twitter about a presentation. Schnell quotes a scientist-blogger, Andrew Maynard, on his own considerations and thoughts on the issue. Maynard doesn't believe that bloggers and Twitterers are generally acting as journalists--but does suggest reasonable guidelines for when it is and isn't OK to tweet or blog. It's a complicated issue, particularly given conference presentations that discuss unpublished research results: Is it inappropriate for a blogger to write about such results, but legitimate for the researcher or their institution to issue premature press releases?

And much, much more. Go on over and read the whole thing -- it's a very worthwhile snapshot of the current environment.

4 responses so far

Reading Diary: Your hate mail will be graded: A decade of Whatever, 1998-2008 by John Scalzi

Sep 28 2010 Published by under blogging, book review, kids today, reading diary

Your Hate Mail Will be Graded: A Decade of Whatever, 1998-2008 is a collection of John Scalzi's favourite posts from the first decade of his blog's existence. And it's quite a collection too -- of course one that is best taken in short doses, one or two posts per day over a longish period of time. Just like you you consume a blog.

Scalzi started Whatever way back in 1998 and since then it's become one of the most popular science fiction author blogs out there. His mixture of humour, politics and just general zaniness is hard to resist. Most of all, Scalzi is passionate, he has a strong sense of fairness and a basic decency that comes through in every post. He's a good guy, a guy you trust, a guy you'd want to have a beer with at a sf convention sometime. He's a guy whose funny stories you constantly repeat to your friends.

Because, oh yes, he can be funny. Even better, he can be viciously funny.

Here's a bit from his epic takedown of the Creation Museum:

Here's how to understand the Creation Museum:

Imagine, if you will, a load of horseshit. And we're not talking just your average load of horseshit; no, we're talking colossal load of horseshit. An epic load of horseshit. The kind of load of horseshit that has accreted over decades and has developed its own sort of ecosystem, from the flyblown chunks at the perimeter, down into the heated and decomposing center, generating explosive levels of methane as bacteria feast merrily on vintage, liquified crap. This is a Herculean load of horseshit, friends, the likes of which has not been seen since the days of Augeas.

Yes, that's John Scalzi at his finest. And this book is full of John Scalzi at his finest. Wthat that devil Scalzi has done, see, is select his favourite blog posts from the first decade and print them on paper and bound the paper up between two covers. And then, oh yes, he then sells the darn thing to you. For money. Selling printed blog posts for money. From a major US science fiction publisher, to boot.


Let's take a step back for a moment.

So, why would I want to even read this stuff in the first place.

Because humour and outrage aren't the only note Scalzi hits. He's passionate in his defense of gay marriage (p. 51, 55 & 189), heartbreaking talking about his wife's miscarriage (p.33), hilarious on Scooby Doo or clones (p. 83 & 49), furious taking down the greedy (125), amazingly satirical when it comes to politics (181), fair but tough-minded on religion (85), scathing on Star Wars (119) and gentle but firm encouraging young writers (213).

A terrific range.

Now, you'll notice that I reference the book's page numbers above rather than linking to the original blog posts. Two reasons, really. First of all, I'm too lazy to look up the blog posts. Second, I think you should buy the book.

After all, why pay to read a book if all the content is available to read for free on the Internet?

  • I'm an idiot. I certainly don't get this "new media" thing, do I. I'm probably one of those people that still buys CDs. Sucker.
  • I would never plow through a long list of links if Scalzi had just posted his "Best Of" list on his blog.
  • There's also a value to reading Scalzi's own curated selection of his favourite posts. It gives me an insight into his though processes and values than a more random slice of his blogging output.
  • I like the idea of sending a chunk of change Mr. Scalzi's way and this is a perfectly good way of doing it. I also get to send a chunk of change to various publishing and bookstore people, whose place in the literary ecosystem I value similarly to the way I value authors.
  • And if I was just reading the original blog posts, I would probably just skim them for the funny bits and skip to the flame wars in the comments.
  • I actually have a signed copy of the book. That's cool. We still haven't figured out how authors to sign their blog posts to individual readers as keepsakes.

In these reviews, I usually make an effort to recommend what kinds of libraries I would suggest acquire the book in question. In this case, it probably won't fit in too many academic collections except perhaps as an example of how a blog can be turned into a book. On the other hand, this book would be a great acquisition for just about any decent sized public library.

Scalzi, John. Your hate mail will be graded: A decade of Whatever, 1998-2008. New York: Tor, 2010. 368pp.

4 responses so far

So, who the heck is still on ScienceBlogs anyways!?

Sep 15 2010 Published by under blogging, culture of science, social media

I know I'm sure as hell having a hard time keeping up with all the comings and goings. If anything, the impression is probably that the lights are practically out and we're all singing Old Lang Syne. This, of course, is far from the case. The lights are still on, we're most of us blogging away.

Here's a list compiled from the Blog Index page and from the drop down on every page. I'm also only including reasonably active blogs, ones with posts since January 1, 2010.

WCG Common Sense has also provided a nice graphical representation of some of the recent science blogospheric ebbs and flows.

Of course, please let me know if I've made any errors compiling the list. My eyes crossed and blurred a couple of times fiddling with and switching between the lists.

I'll note again that there are a few blogs that are still here but haven't posted since the beginning of 2010. I haven't included those on my list here since to me they probably represent fairly dormant blogs. There are also a couple of blogs listed above that just came in under my dormancy cut-off.

But, no matter how you look at it, it's still a pretty impressive and pretty vital line-up.

3 responses so far

Welcome to YASBC: Wired Science Blogs

Yet another science blogging community: Wired Science Blogs.

From Meet the New Wired Science All-Star Bloggers:

At Wired Science we are always looking for new ways to deliver you more science and more awesome. Starting today, we are bringing on a group of hand-picked, superstar science bloggers to help us do just that.


We hope Wired will give these bloggers the platform and attention they deserve and help bring quality science blogging to the forefront of science discussion across the web. In recent weeks, several science blogging networks have sprung up, including PLoS blogs, LabSpaces and Science 3.0, and we plan to be an active and collaborative member of the broader science blogging community. And we've brought on expert community manager Arikia Millikan to help with that effort.

Meet Our Bloggers [edited descriptions, fuller descriptions and links at original post]

Brian Switek has been blogging about natural science for four years. His blog Laelaps, named after one of the first dinosaurs discovered in North America, started as a a small spot on the web to geek out about weird fossils and quirks of nature. Since then, he has written about science for newspapers, magazines and recently finished his first book, Written in Stone, due out Nov. 1.

Rhett Allain is a physics professor at Southeastern Louisiana University and started blogging as a way to show his students examples of potential lab projects. And then he couldn't stop. As he puts it, "When I am not blogging or teaching, I like to blog." He sees ideas for his blog Dot Physics everywhere and caught our attention with posts that describe the physics behind everyday things like basketball shots, car commercials and DIY lightning detectors.

Maryn McKenna started blogging in 2007 to field-test ideas for her second book, about the international epidemic of antibiotic resistance. Today, her blog Superbug covers news and new research about diseases in humans and animals, treatments and the lack of them, and the unintended consequences of decisions that seemed like a good idea at the time. She is especially interested in the cultural conditions that prompt infectious diseases to emerge, return or get worse.

Brian Romans is a research geologist whose latest work is focused on deep-sea geology. He began blogging four years ago, while working toward his Ph.D. at Stanford University, as a way to release pent up dissertation-writing stress and share what he thought was interesting in geoscience.

Since then, his blog Clastic Detritus has grown into a fantastic collection of posts on exciting Earth science research...

David Dobbs is an award-winning science writer who came to love blogging because of the freedom it gives him to work through ideas about neuroscience, genetics and life, and expand bits that in former times he would have left forever on the cutting room floor. His blog Neuron Culture has become invaluable to him as a way to stay connected to a larger community of writers, and to readers.

Jonah Lehrer brought his blog The Frontal Cortex to Wired Science in July. He's already won many of our readers over with his insights about the brain and human behavior including a look at the neuroscience of Inception and a post on why alcohol is good for you. Lehrer is a contributing editor at Wired magazine and award-winning author of books on neuroscience, including his latest, How We Decide.

Daniel MacArthur will be joining the team in the coming weeks with his blog Genetic Future. Currently he's is in the early stages of rearing his own genetic future, and has taken a blogging hiatus to welcome his first born into the world. MacArthur is an Australian researcher whose work revolves around making use of large data-sets of human DNA sequences to learn about the genetic and evolutionary basis of human disease. When he returns, we know you'll be intrigued with his personal take on what recent studies in genomics mean for those of us interested in our own DNA.


One response so far

How come no LibrarianTopia blogging community?

The last little while has seen an amazing proliferation of science blogging communities. Scientopia, Guardian Science Blogs and PLoS Blogs are only the three most recent that I know of.

I think it's great -- the more the merrier I say. Of course, as networks take up more and more space in the science blogging ecosystem it seems to me that independent bloggers might feel isolated or under pressure or neglected some how. I don't think that will be a huge problem as independents will continue to thrive in niches large and small and will continue to draw audiences to what they have to say. Ultimately, many of them will have opportunities to join networks and they will continue to choose what's best for them.

So, yes, the ecosystem for science blogging is shifting and evolving.

What I also find interesting is that this clumping into networks doesn't seem to be happening the same way in other domains. Maybe I'm just ignorant, but is there a thriving ecosystem of accountant blogging networks? MBA? Architects? I don't think so.

Or more to the point: Why no proliferation of librarian blogging networks?

Sure, there's Library Journal's bloggers, but beyond that not much. Oh sure, there are a few group blogs too, like Library Garden or In the Library with the Lead Pipe.

But no shift in the ecosystem. There are certainly a huge number of independant blogs that could potentially be poached and organized and gathered. Sure, there's not the mainstream interest in library and information science issues that there is in science, which is part of what's propelling the shifts in that ecosystem. But there is some and certainly there will be a lot of interest in such a project within the library community.

I find it curious that we haven't seen those same ecosystem shifts.

Why haven't the professional societies jumped in and started recruiting blogging stables? Why haven't key vendors sponsored communities? Why haven't we self-organized into our own collectives?

I certainly don't have any answers. I'm not even certain that the questions themselves are that interesting to begin with. Maybe the answer is just, "The library blogosphere is fine like it is."

What about all of you out there...

  • Is this a good idea?
  • What would the advantages be to having this soft of community?
  • How about disadvantages?
  • Would it make it easier for, say, academic librarians to reach faculty and students if we had a blogging community that had a certain critical mass?
  • How about other part of the librarian blogging community?

2 responses so far

Welcome to yet another science blogging community: PLoS Blogs

Yes, YASBC. Yet another science blogging community.

Welcome to PLoS Blogs!

From the introductory post:

Today we are pleased to announce the launch of PLoS Blogs a new network for discussing science in public; covering topics in research, culture, and publishing.

PLoS Blogs is different from other blogging networks, because it includes an equal mix of science journalists and scientists. We're excited to be welcoming our new bloggers, including Pulitzer Prize winner Deborah Blum to the network.


Our scientists:

Take As Directed:

David Kroll, Ph.D. is a cancer pharmacologist who investigates natural anticancer drugs and is best known under his blog pseudonym, "Abel Pharmboy". He has appeared regularly on NPR and ABC News Now.


Daniel Lende, Ph.D. is a medical, psychological, and biological anthropologist. He worked as an assistant professor in anthropology at the University of Notre Dame and is now associate professor at the University of South Florida. Daniel co-founded in 2007.

Greg Downey is currently a Senior Lecturer in Anthropology at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia. He has published extensively on capoeira (an Afro-Brazilian art form), no-holds-barred fighting, coaching, dance, music etc.

Obesity Panacea:

Peter Janiszewski has a PhD in clinical exercise physiology from Queen's University in Canada. He's a science writer/editor, a published obesity researcher, university lecturer, and an advocate of new media.

Travis Saunders is a PhD student in health physiology at the University of Ottawa, who investigates sedentary lifestyles and chronic disease risk in children.


Martin Fenner, M.D. works as a medical doctor and cancer researcher in the Hannover Medical School Cancer Center in Germany. Since 2007, he has regularly written about how the internet is changing scholarly communication.


Misha Angrist, Ph.D. is Assistant Professor of the Practice at the Duke University Institute for Genome Sciences & Policy. In 2009 he had his full genome sequenced at Duke.

The Language of Bad Physics:

Sarah Kavassalis has a B.S. in physics and mathematics and is currently a graduate student at the University of Toronto. She discusses semi-popular papers that lack an accurate basis in math and physics.

Our science journalists:

Speakeasy Science:

Deborah Blum is a Pulitzer prize-winning science writer and is a Professor of Journalism at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her latest book, The Poisoner's Handbook, was published in February 2010.


Steve Silberman is a long-time writer whose articles have appeared in Wired, the New Yorker, Salon, Time, and many other national publications all with a Neurological slant.

The Gleaming Retort:

John Rennie is an adjunct professor in graduate Science, Health and Environmental Reporting at New York University. John was the editor in chief of Scientific American and has appeared on PBS, NPR, ABC etc

Body Politic:

Melinda Wenner Moyer is an award-winning science writer focusing on health and policy, and has a master's degree in science journalism from New York University. Her work has appeared in Scientific American, Slate, The Oprah Magazine etc.


Emily Anthes is a freelance science writer and has a master's degree in science writing from MIT. Her work has appeared in Scientific American Mind, Psychology Today, Popular Mechanics, Discover and elsewhere.

A hearty welcome and much success to the latest YASBC!

(BTW, I find it unfortunate that the Public Library of Science blogging community doesn't have any, you know, librarians. It would be a nice recognition of our front line work in promoting OA. On the other hand, I guess there aren't that many of us around to recruit.)

One response so far

List of Science & Technology Librarian Blogs

Aug 26 2010 Published by under blogging, education, librarianship, social media

Here's a list of the reasonably active Science & Technology library blogs I know about. I've not included medical library blogs in this post because it's not a field I'm all that knowledgeable about. That list would make a great post in it's own right, but it's not this one.

My definition of "scitech librarian blog" is pretty loose (even on the librarian part of it), but in this case I think casting a fairly wide net is probably the best plan of action.

In no particular order:

I know I said I wouldn't link to any library blogs, but here's a couple that feel more personal. Feel free to let me know about other blogs with a similar feel.

Here's a couple of dormant long time bloggers who've shown Some recent signs of activity:

Read, enjoy, explore! There's lots of great stuff in those lists.

Now this is likely nowhere near complete -- I've almost certainly forgotten someone blindingly obvious. So, who have I forgotten? Who don't I know about yet?

(And no, I'm not doing this as part of some sort of grandiose plan to create a scitech librarian blogging community. Although...just kidding.)

Update 2010.08.26. Added The Science Library by Joe Kraus and fixed Nuthing but Net.

Update 2010.08.28. Added The Patent Librarian's Notebook by Michael White (can't believe I forgot a blog that's on my blogroll...) and Science Resources by Michael Knee.

Update 2011.01.27. Added Social Disruption by Elizabeth Brown.

4 responses so far

Welcome to the new blogging community aggregator:

Aug 20 2010 Published by under blogging, culture of science

Check it out: On twitter too!

Thanks to Dave Munger, Bora Zivkovic and Anton Zuiker for coming up with what we've all been waiting for -- a way to keep track of all the new science blogging networks that have been sprouting up everywhere lately.

From Bora's Drumroll, please! Introducing:

But over the last month or two, the world of science blogging changed. is there, big and good, but not as dominant as it once was. Other existing networks suddenly became more interesting and more visible. They started growing. New networks got started and are still being built at an alarming rate of approximately one per week. This is a good thing - many more blogs are now enjoying increased visibility, traffic and influence.

But there is a problem for the reader - how to track all those networks and all those blogs? They are scattered all over the place. It takes time to go through all the bookmarks and feeds in order to catch everything.

They're also looking for input and assistance:

If you are the owner/manager of one of these (or other) sites, and there is something you want to change, let us know - we want the community input as to how to improve the site.

Perhaps you have multiple blogs on your site/network but no common feed. We may have included only a feed for one of your blogs instead of all, or used FriendFeed as a temporary solution. You can fix that - make a common feed and send us the URL so we can switch it.

You may like the way a pretty logo appears next to the names of various networks, but do not like the ugly red Y of Yahoo next to yours. You can fix that as well - switch from Yahoo pipes to a better feed (RSS or Atom) and your logo will show up as well.

Is your network missing? Let us know. Are you building a new network? As soon as it goes live, let us know and send us your feed.

If you have (or intend to post) images on Flickr with science themes, please tag them with #scienceblogging and they will also appear on the site.

We need your help - we want to include independent bloggers as well. But how do we go about it? There are thousands of them! We cannot include all of those feeds. If we fuse them all into a single feed, that would be a firehose moving at the speed of light. There must be a better system!

Also, check out the first few posts on their new blog.

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A blog of substance...

Aug 05 2010 Published by under blogging, culture of science, librarianship

Thanks to Mike the Mad Biologist for tagging me with this meme. Like Mike, I'm not much of a memer, but this one looks interesting (and simple) enough to give a try.

The idea is to "Sum up your blogging motivation, philosophy and experience in exactly 10 words" and then to tag 10 further blogs.

So, here goes:

Bring the world of scientists to librarians and vice versa.

That was strangely easy to formulate and I'm not sure if that's a good thing. Similarly, I think it's an overall mission statement rather than something that needs to be implemented with each post I make. Over the long view, nearly eight years of blogging, I think it's going pretty well.

And in that spirit, I'll tag 10 more blogs, five librarian and 5 scientist. Apologies to those that have already been tagged. Also, please consider responding to the tagging completely optional.

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