Archive for the 'personal' category

Friday No Fun: Pseudonymous blogging no longer allowed at ScienceBlogs?

Aug 19 2011 Published by under blogging, personal

According to DrugMonkey's recent post, ScienceBlogs' new overlords The National Geogrpaphic Society will no longer allow pseudonymous to continue blogging here.

I have just been informed that ScienceBlogs will no longer be hosting anonymous or pseudonymous bloggers. In case you are interested, despite extensive communication from many of us as to why we blog under pseudonyms, I have not been given any rationale or reason for this move. Particularly, no rationale or reason that responds to the many valid points raised by the pseudonymous folks.

This is, as they say, not unexpected. It is pretty clear that when corporate flacks ask you for your opinion in response to their reflexive stance they are not in fact going to be influenced. So I do hope none of my colleagues are surprised by this. Disappointed, as am I, but not surprised.

This is very problematic for me. The ability to speak freely and without fear of reprisal is the foundation and necessity of pseudonymous blogging. These bloggers work long and hard to establish the credibility and reliability of their online identities and shouldn't be punished or banished because of it.

Check out this wiki page, Who is harmed by a "Real Names" policy? for more elaborate reasoning on the issue. There's also been tons of posts on the Google+ real names policy, this one for example.

What does this mean for me?

I'm not sure. I'm certainly not going to act rashly but frankly amongst all the turmoil here over the last year or so, this is the first time I'm actually seriously considering whether or not I belong here.

I see three possibilities.

  • Suck it up and continue blogging here. It's at least marginally useful for my career to blog here and I think somewhat useful for librarianship as a whole to have a librarian presence here. These are not inconsiderable factors but not automatically more important than principle.
  • Return to my old location at Blogger (or perhaps a new indie location at WordPress, say). This is probably the most likely alternative to staying put.
  • Moving to another network. There are currently no offers on the table from other networks nor do I intend to seek any out at this point. This may be the least likely alternative but I have to say I don't have much of sense of what that likelihood actually is.

I considered a blogging hiatus until I figure this out but I do have a couple of things in the pipeline for the next week or so so I'm just going to continue as normal for now.

I appreciate any feedback from my readers.

10 responses so far

On academic leadership

No, the purpose of this post isn't to reveal the secrets of successful academic leadership. If I had those, believe you me I'd be writing this from my villa on the French Riviera.

However, I am heading off to the Harvard Graduate School of Education's Leadership Institute for Academic Librarians in Boston next week where I hope to be a least a little more enlightened and educated along that path.

Not surprisingly I've been watching the blogosphere these last few months for insightful posts and articles about academic leadership, in particular academic library leadership. I've found a few and I thought I'd share them with you.

First of all, though, I'd like to mention what the course textbook is. It's Reframing Academic Leadership by Lee G. Bolman and Joan V. Gallos. It a very good book with both practical and theoretical approaches to leadership that I find quite interesting. What's really useful is that is situates the challenges of leadership within the unique environment of collegial governance, the demands of research/teaching/service and a tenured professoriat/librarian complement. It's well worth reading. I hope to get around to a more detailed review later in the summer.

Anyways, here's some of the things I've found over the last little while. It's all on the open web so I'm sure there's lots of books and articles that would be useful that I haven't linked to. It's worth noting that I didn't only look for stuff on leadership but also ideas that are useful for leaders or potential leaders.

Of course, please feel free to suggest additional resources in the comments, either on the free web or other books and articles that you might know of.

I'll only add one post of my own that I think might be useful: A stealth librarianship manifesto.

There are a few blogs that are more-or-less required reading for me on academic library leadership, again not just because they're about leadership but because they have ideas that are useful to leaders or potential leaders:

I'm sure there are others -- suggestions are always welcome.

It's worth noting that my some of my hesitations and doubts about thought leadership apply to the domain of academic leadership as well, but different, of course. It something that's important and that needs to be embraced to be able to move forward and grow but that we also need to be careful and critical about. Perhaps I'll explore those in detail at a later time.

5 responses so far

A year of blog stats: 2010

Feb 25 2011 Published by under admin, blogging, personal

In the spirit of openness and transparency and "does anybody really care except me" I've included some blog hit statistics below for 2010. These stats are from the Google Analytics application that ScienceBlogs has installed.

For 2010, this blog got 77,630 visits and 91,022 pageviews. To put it all into perspective, to say that this is a fairly insignificant portion of the total traffic for ScienceBlogs is a bit of an understatement. There are defunct blogs that still generate more traffic.

Here are the numbers in graphical format (click to see full year):

And by month (click to see full year):i-5db0b05a79f042227a5415c1baca3b3f-statsmonth-thumb-751x127-61723.jpg

It's nice to see the numbers growing over the course of the year. I think it's fair to say that it took me a full year after my May 2009 move from my old Blogger site to ScienceBlogs to recapture the traffic I had at the old site, largely due to the lost googlejuice from relocating.

For some context, my last complete year at the old site was 2008 and the numbers for that year were 56,593 visits and 73,212 pageviews. For 2010, even though it hasn't been updated in nearly 2 years, the old site still got over 16,000 pageviews.

So far in 2011, as of February 23rd, I have 18,421 visits and 21,870 pageviews. It's nice to see that this year is trending quite a bit higher than last year at the same point. I may end up surpassing several defunct blogs.

As for 2009, since that was the transition year with traffic at both blog sites, the numbers are hard to judge in relation to 2008 and 2010 so I won't even bother trying.

Here are some pageview stats for some individual pages.

Top 15 Posts (non-Friday Fun)

  1. Best Science Books 2009: Library Journal Best of 2009 Sci-Tech Books (3758)
  2. Best Science Books 2009: The top books of the year! (1824)
  3. Librarians vs. Nature (1337)
  4. A teachable moment (1129)
  5. Best Science Books 2009: The Globe 100 (996)
  6. #ArsenicLife #Fail: A teachable moment (973)
  7. What do students want from their libraries? (887)
  8. Is computer science baseless? (723)
  9. The inherent insularity of library culture? (644)
  10. Best Science Books 2010: New York Times Notable Books (617)
  11. Scientists vs. Engineers (592)
  12. Scholarly Societies: Why Bother?
  13. My Job in 10 Years: Social Media and the 21st Century Classroom (585)
  14. Best Science Books 2009: Scientific American (563)
  15. Best Science Books 2010: The Economist (554)

Some Honourable Mentions include the "index" post at 13,877 and the tag post for Best Science Books 2010 at 1902.

Comments: Overall, a very good year. I'm quite pleased by the posts that have made it to the list, they all seem like good examples of the kind of topics I cover and the kind of writing I do. It's also very obvious that the end-of-year coverage I do of the best science books lists is very popular and that it's something I should continue. For perspective, the Best Science Books 2010: The top books of the year!!!! has some 1877 pageviews as of this moment. The very recent and quite popular A stealth librarianship manifesto already has 1087.

Top 5 Various Fun Posts

  1. Friday Fun: Historians Admit To Inventing Ancient Greeks (1515)
  2. Friday Fun: Epic failures: 11 infamous software bugs (1012)
  3. Thursday Zombie Fun: Braaaiiiinnnnsssss! (865)
  4. Friday Fun: 5 Terms Social Media Douchebags Need To Stop Using (652)
  5. Friday Fun: 5 Signs You're Talking To A Social Media Douchebag (618)

Top 5 Book Review Posts

  1. Reading Diary: The Walking Dead, volumes 1-12 by Robert Kirkman (763)
  2. Reading Diary: Your hate mail will be graded: A decade of Whatever, 1998-2008 by John Scalzi (397)
  3. Jenkins, Mark Collins. Vampire forensics: Uncovering the origins of an enduring legend. Washington: National Geographic, 2010. 303pp. (395)
  4. Christensen, Clayton M. The innovator's dilemma. New York: Collins Business Essentials, 2006. 286pp. (288)
  5. Review of: Makers by Cory Doctorow (286)

What's left to say? Thank you all very much for your time and attention. I truly appreciate all the wonderful connections, ideas and opportunities you and this blog have brought to me over the years.

See you around the Internets!

5 responses so far

A Year of Books: 2010

Jan 03 2011 Published by under books i'd like to read, personal, reading diary

I've been doing this for a few years now, last year, 2008 and 2007 and it seems like an interesting and maybe even useful thing to continue this year. I really enjoy seeing other people's reading lists (like here, here and here) and enjoy adding my own to the mix.

So, below you'll find a list of all the books I started in 2010. In other words, it'll include a few books I'm still reading as well as a few that I've abandoned. I've been recording every book I've read since 1983 and on my other (mostly lapsed) blog I've been occasionally transcribing the list on a year by year basis. I've stalled a bit the last couple of years, but I'll try and do a few more over the next few months. This list will probably also be re-posted there eventually.

Trends in my reading this year?

  • I mentioned abandoned books. It was a bad year for those, for sure. I won't say how many, exactly, or which ones, but as I get older I'm not quite as willing to stick with a book until the bitter end. If I look back at some of the older lists I've done, in those days I would have finished 100% of the books I started.
  • My genre tastes are shifting a bit as I get older as well. I find I'm reading more mystery and crime fiction as the years go by and this year is no exception. As you might be able to tell from the list below, I tend towards the hardboiled & noir. It's not that I love SFFH any less, it's just that my horizons have expanded.
  • I'm also pleased by how many graphic novels I've read over the last year. I pretty consciously decided at the end of 2009 to make more of an effort that way in 2010 and I've really enjoyed getting into a few series.
  • The Buffy the Vampire Slayer obsession continues apace. And it's been fun! I've read Buffy novels, graphic novels, nonfiction, Angel and Spike graphic novels, we even re-watched the whole series from November 2009 to June 2010. By the way, if you haven't rewatched Buffy recently, you really do owe it to yourself. And if you haven't encountered her yet at all, well you owe that to yourself even more. The graphic novel season eight is coming to a close this month and while it's been uneven, it's worth a look.
  • My media singularity/cyberculture/future of information/social media obsession also continues apace. Quite a bit of the non-fiction I read falls under that very broad banner and I continue to think it's important to read and think deeply about these issues. Of course, it would be nice if I could force myself to think and write a bit more deeply about those issues by actually finishing a few more book reviews...but that's another issue.
  • Quite by surprise and mostly as a result of my reading for the Sunburst Award Jury a while back, I find I'm reading quite a bit of YA fiction and really enjoying it. It's all been SFFH so far (and is likely to stay that way...) and I find I really appreciate the focus on solid characterization and a gripping narrative.
  • I've been listing and updating my reading on Good Reads, which has been very fun this year. If you're on the service yourself, add me as a friend!
  • Reading resolutions for the new year? Maybe to try and mix a few more SFFH novels into the rotation. And maybe also to read a bit more in the way of actual popular science rather than just the info/cyber/tech stuff.
  • And looking back at the year's list all I can think is, "Holy crap, did I ever read a lot of great books last year!"

I'll link to the reviews I've written below, what few there are that I've written. I'm even more behind than I was last year! I'll try and catch up with a bunch of capsule & group reviews but there are a few books, like Shirky's Cognitive Surplus or Jenkins' Convergence Culture, that really deserve a full treatment.

So, without further ado, here's a list of all the books I've read or started this year, more-or-less in order:

  1. Terra Insegura by Edward Willett
  2. Angel: After the Fall V2: First Night by Joss Whedon & Brian Lynch
  3. Rex Libris V1: I, Librarian by James Turner
  4. Trigger City by Sean Chercover
  5. Money Shot by Christa Faust
  6. The Awakening by Kelley Armstrong
  7. Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide by Henry Jenkins
  8. The Life of Captain Marvel by Jim Starlin
  9. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Omnibus 3 by Various
  10. Black Powder War by Naomi Novik
  11. Creature From The Black Lagoon: Time's Black Lagoon by Paul Di Filippo
  12. The Future of the Internet -- And How to Stop It by Jonathan Zittrain
  13. Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season Eight V6: Retreat by Jane Espenson, Joss Whedon, Georges Jeanty, Andy Owens, et al.
  14. Vampire Forensics: Uncovering the Origins of an Enduring Legend by Mark Collins Jenkins (review)
  15. Spike: After The Fall by Brian Lynch and Franco Urru
  16. The Speed of Dark by Elizabeth Moon
  17. Dead City by Shane Stevens
  18. You Are Not a Gadget: A Manifesto by Jaron Lanier
  19. Mind Set!: Eleven Ways to Change the Way You See--and Create--the Future by John Naisbitt
  20. Off Season by Jack Ketchum
  21. Rewired: Understanding the iGeneration and the Way They Learn by Larry D. Rosen
  22. Storm Front by Jim Butcher
  23. Five Fists of Science by Matt Fraction
  24. Why Buffy Matters: The Art of Buffy the Vampire Slayer by Rhonda Wilcox
  25. Unwritten V1: Tommy Taylor and the Bogus Identity by Mike Carey and Peter Gross
  26. The Max by Ken Bruen and Jason Starr
  27. Hunt at the Well of Eternity by Gabriel Hunt and James Reasoner
  28. Stoker's Dracula by Bram Stoker, adapted by Roy Thomas and Dick Giordano
  29. The Missing by Sarah Langan
  30. Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, V1 by Hayao Miyazaki
  31. DIY U: Edupunks, Edupreneurs, and the Coming Transformation of Higher Education by Anya Kamenetz
  32. Angel: After the Fall, V3 by Joss Whedon, Brian Lynch, Nick Runge, and David Messina
  33. Angel: After the Fall, V4 by Joss Whedon, Brian Lynch, Franco Urru, and Alex Garner
  34. Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Blood and Fog by Nancy Holder
  35. The Other Side by Jason Aaron and Cameron Stewart
  36. Moyasimon 2: Tales of Agriculture by Ishikawa Masayuki
  37. Contagious by Scott Sigler
  38. Black Hole by Charles Burns (review)
  39. Makers by Cory Doctorow (review)
  40. White Sands, Red Menace by Ellen Klages (review)
  41. The Man with the Iron Heart by Harry Turtledove (review)
  42. The Dragon Factory by Jonathan Maberry (review)
  43. Wake by Robert J. Sawyer (review)
  44. Locke & Key V1: Welcome to Lovecraft by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez
  45. Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi (review)
  46. The Blue Place by Nicola Griffith
  47. The Fuzzy Papers by H. Beam Piper
  48. Cognitive Surplus: Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age by Clay Shirky
  49. Contents Under Pressure: 30 Years of Rush at Home and Away by Martin Popoff (review)
  50. The Walking Dead, V1-12 by Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard, Cliff Rathburn, and Tony Moore (review)
  51. Small Things Considered: Why There Is No Perfect Design by Henry Petroski
  52. Swastika by Michael Slade
  53. Universal Monsters: Cavalcade of Horror by Dan Jolley, Den Beauvais, Dan Vado, Steve Moncuse, et al.
  54. Ôoku: The Inner Chambers, V1 by Fumi Yoshinaga
  55. Horns by Joe Hill
  56. Small Pieces Loosely Joined: A Unified Theory Of The Web by David Weinberger
  57. Angels and Ages: A Short Book About Darwin, Lincoln, and Modern Life by Adam Gopnik
  58. Soft Touch by John D. MacDonald
  59. The Unwritten V2: Inside Man by Mike Carey and Peter Gross
  60. Fantastic Four: To Free Atlantis by Nancy A. Collins
  61. Feed by MT Anderson
  62. Queenpin by Megan Abbott
  63. Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight V7: Twilight by Brad Meltzer, Joss Whedon, Georges Jeanty, and Karl Moline
  64. The Loving Dead by Amelia Beamer
  65. Two Generals by Scott Chantler
  66. Green Metropolis: Why Living Smaller, Living Closer, and Driving Less are the Keys to Sustainability by David Owen
  67. Atoms and Eden: Conversations on Religion and Science by Steve Paulson (review)
  68. Brew North: How Canadians Made Beer and Beer Made Canada by Ian Coutts
  69. Hunt Through the Cradle of Fear by Gabriel Hunt and Charles Ardai
  70. Dracula The Un-Dead by Dacre Stoker and Ian Holt
  71. Common as Air: Revolution, Art, and Ownership by Lewis Hyde
  72. Tales to Astonish: Jack Kirby, Stan Lee, and the American Comic Book Revolution by Ronin Ro
  73. Frank Frazetta's Death Dealer: Prisoner of the Horned Helmet by Frank Frazetta and James R. Silke
  74. The Walking Dead, V13 by Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard, and Cliff Rathburn
  75. Life by Keith Richards

Notable non-fiction, in no particular order:

Notable fiction, in no particular order (It was a great year in fiction reading, so there are actually a bunch more that could have made this list if I'd made it on a different day in a different mood):

I hope this list provides a little inspiration to all my readers to compile their own reading list for the year. I look forward to seeing them -- feel free to drop a link in the comments.

2 responses so far

Friday Fun: Growing up a horror fan

Oct 29 2010 Published by under friday fun, personal, science fiction

A second Halloween-related post, with the happy day coming up this weekend. My "give a scary book" post came on Monday.

Anyways, a recent post on really resonated with me: Growing up as a horror fan. Mostly because I too grew up a huge horror fan, mostly watching cheesy old Hammer films on tv, the Dracula and Frankenstein ones having particularly strong memories for me. To this day, I'm a huge fan of some of their main actors such as Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee. Island of Terror is non-Hammer film that I have vivid memories of watching when I was a kid -- as is Quatermass and the Pit and a million more.

As far as horror fiction is concerned, HP Lovecraft was probably my first love. But I also got into a lot of horror comics and other stuff too. TV shows like Dark Shadows and Night Gallery and Night Stalker (movies and tv show, my all-time fave!) are vivid memories.

So, like I said, this post has a huge resonance.

Our different and unique experiences have molded us into the horror fanatics that we are today.

I was born on December 25th, 1970 ( yeah, I know ), so my earliest memories of horror movies probably started somewhere in the mid- 1970′s through the early 1980′s. Those are the years in my life that I'm going to explore to try to answer my own question.


There's more. I mentioned Frankenstein and I'll mention him again. During those crucial horror fan building years, it was Frankenstein who was my favorite monster. I mean, not any more really. You grow up and you find new horror monsters to idolize, but back then, man o man, he was the cat's meow. Of course, a take off on Frankenstein was Herman Munster. The Addams Family and The Munsters, both played significant roles in me becoming Joyhorror. The specific episode that I remember liking a ton was when Herman was singing that song, "My foot bone connected to my leg bone, my leg bone connected to my hip bone". You remember, the song might not have went exactly like that but you know what I'm talking about. I used to go around the house singing that song as a kid.

And more. It's a great post, well worth reading the whole thing.

What are your horror memories?

5 responses so far

Charlotte Observer interview: Find the future at a 21st-century science library

Aug 02 2010 Published by under blogging, personal

T. DeLene Beeland (Twitter) contacted me last week and was kind enough to offer to interview me for an honest-to-goodness print newspaper -- The Charlotte Observer: Find the future at a 21st-century science library. It;s part of a series of interviews she's done with science bloggers.

Here's an exerpt from the interview. My answers to DeLene's questions were about 2-3 times longer than she was able to use, so she's done a great job editing them down to more manageable lengths.

Q. What are some of the biggest trending changes in science libraries currently?

One thing we're working really hard on is integrating librarians in the undergraduate educational process - getting ourselves in the classrooms to help the professors teach students about navigating an increasingly complex information environment. In other places, the changes will revolve around helping manage research data or embedding librarians in labs. Most places are working on multiple fronts. It's interesting times.

Thanks, DeLene!

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Bora leaves ScienceBlogs, ground shifts under our feet

Jul 19 2010 Published by under blogging, personal

The fallout of the Pepsigate scandal continues.

Bora's recent relative blogging silence left me with a bad feeling, an ominous feeling. A feeling like the other shoe was about to drop.

Well, it did. Bora is leaving ScienceBlogs.

As with most of Bora's giant summary zeitgeist posts, you just have to read the whole thing yourself. The comments too are incredibly heartfelt.

For me, Bora always epitomized ScienceBlogs. He was always the ultimate SciBling and I was so thrilled to be blogging her next to him when I joined. Bora's also always really epitomized science blogging as a whole to me. As such, I always felt that he was shepherding and guiding all the rest of us. He was also one of the first non-library blogs that every noticed my humble blogging efforts.

Bora = ScienceBlogs. Bora = science blogging.

He'll be missed. But, being indefatigable and incorrigible and undefeated and incredible and unbelievable (and pretty well every other un- and in- you can think of!), he continues blogging and shepherding and all the rest.

It's a beginning as well as an ending and while we mourn one we should also celebrate the other.

As for the rest of us, it really does feel like it changes everything, like it's a point of no return or a foreshadowing.

(To check out more online reaction, follow the #IoweBora hashtag on Twitter.)

No responses yet

Pepsigate: Yes, I'm staying

For now, at least.

My natural inclinations about this whole mess are probably closest in nature to either Chad Orzel's or Jason Rosenhouse's, so reading them will probably give you a pretty close idea of where I stand. Bora, not surprisingly, has collected a lot of the reaction.

I also really like what Christie Wilcox has to say:

Let me make it clear, though - I don't blame anyone for leaving. I don't hold it against them. While I may not have had the same visceral reaction they did, I also haven't been here that long. I haven't dealt with this kind of mismanagement and gotten fed up about it over and over again. I can easily see how, for many that left, this was the last straw. For me, though, this was the first time Seed did something wrong.

I also stayed because I decided it was the right thing to do. When I saw my friends jumping ship, the thought of leaving crossed my mind. That thought, however, was fleeting, and I decided instead that I needed to stay.

I originally wanted to blog on ScienceBlogs because it is a community and a media outlet that I believe in. This hasn't changed. I still think that ScienceBlogs is an important member of the scientific and journalistic communities, and I feel that it is important. Now that the battle is over and the smoke has cleared, it's time to mourn the losses suffered and rebuild. I'm still young, naive and optimistic enough to think that Seed can and will do better in the future, and that it's a future I want to be a part of.

I hope that you all continue to read the Sciblings and ex-Sciblings that you know and love, wherever they end up. As for me, I'm going to be here for a little while longer, and I hope that you'll stick around for it.

I truly believe that ScienceBlogs management has made some serious missteps in this whole fracas, ones that have seriously damaged the community of readers and bloggers. Credibility and community takes a long time to build and even longer to restore. However, I think restoring that credibility and rebuilding that community are projects worth undertaking.


More recent revelations about other advertising/editorial issues also leave a bad taste in my mouth. You can read about that issue here and here.

So I'm still torn. I enjoy being part of this community and I truly believe it's worth working to save. I appreciate the opportunity to reach a very different audience than I did at my old location, a chance to preach to the unconverted. I value being able to reach science people with the library message. I've been blogging long enough to have no illusions about how "famous" it has made me. But the people that I do reach here on ScienceBlogs are truly the right people for me to reach.

I would be very unhappy to give that up. And so, here I remain.

I still think this is very much a teachable moment -- a theme I may come back to at a later date. Those of us that deal with students in our non-blogging lives I think could almost use this as a case study in thinking about what credibility really means in the online world -- how to build it, how to lose it, how to measure it and how to teach about it.

(As an aside, my natural inclination was to just keep blogging without saying anything. To stay without a statement. I thought about it long and hard and decided since I did make my initial post I should probably follow up.)

3 responses so far

A teachable moment

So, PepsiCo has started up a new blog here on ScienceBlogs called Food Frontiers.

From the profile:

PepsiCo's R&D Leadership Team discusses the science behind the food industry's role in addressing global public health challenges. This is an extension of PepsiCo's own Food Frontiers blog.

This blog is sponsored by PepisCo. All editorial content is written by PepsiCo's scientists or scientists invited by PepsiCo and/or ScienceBlogs. All posts carry a byline above the fold indicating the scientist's affiliation and conflicts of interest.

From the introductory post:

On behalf of the team here at ScienceBlogs, I'd like to welcome you to Food Frontiers, a new project presented by PepsiCo.

As part of this partnership, we'll hear from a wide range of experts on how the company is developing products rooted in rigorous, science-based nutrition standards to offer consumers more wholesome and enjoyable foods and beverages. The focus will be on innovations in science, nutrition and health policy. In addition to learning more about the transformation of PepsiCo's product portfolio, we'll be seeing some of the innovative ways it is planning to reduce its use of energy, water and packaging.

In June, I had the pleasure of meeting Pekka Puska, president of the World Heart Federation -- we'll be hearing from him on this blog, as well as other global leaders in nutrition research, in every context ranging from government, to academia, to industry. PepsiCo's research team draws from all of those branches: Dr. Mehmood Khan, PepsiCo's Chief Scientific Officer, served as the director of the Mayo's Clinic's endocrinology and nutrition clinical trial unit, and Dr. George Mensah, PepsiCo's Vice President of Global Nutrition, was the chief of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Cardiovascular Health Program for almost a decade.

We have some exciting things planned for this project, including a video series that will begin with a look at the role the food industry plays in health issues, and how industry research into chemistry, physiology, neuroscience, behavioral economics, medicine, and nutrition can improve health outcomes around the world.

As we like to say, science is driving the conversation unlike ever before -- and ScienceBlogs is happy to be at the center of it all.

This has proven to be extremely controversial among the bloggers on this site, to say the least, with some expressing outrage, going on hiatus or deciding to leave. Some of the reaction:

I completely respect my colleagues individual decisions. To say the least, I'm not pleased about sharing the ScienceBlogs platform with Pepsi -- their products are definitely not a force for good in the world and their advertising and promotional efforts work against encouraging healthy eating and sustainable food practices.

But, I haven't made up my mind yet as to what I'll do. Certainly, hiatus and relocation back to my original site are both options that I will consider.

Before I make my decision I want to see how this plays out a little more -- in particular I'm looking forward to getting a feel for the posts on the new blog, whether they feel corportate or whether they attempt to engage in a conversation about food culture, health and the best way forward for a sustainable food industry. And while I'm no expert, I do suspect that if we are going to come to a more sustainable planetary food and agricultural status quo, corporations will have to become part of the solution in the future as much as they've been part of the problem in the past.

But what do I mean by "teachable moment?"

Last night as I was pondering the situation, all I could think about was how I approach Web sites when I do literature research skills sessions for science students. How I talk about knowing who creating the content, thinking about why they created it, what their biases are, what they're trying to convince their audience of. I also thought about teaching students to be skeptical, both of those they instinctively disagree with as well as those they instinctively agree with.

I thought about the ACRL's Information Literacy Standards for Science and Technology:

Standard Three

The information literate student critically evaluates the procured information and its sources, and as a result, decides whether or not to modify the initial query and/or seek additional sources and whether to develop a new research process.


Standard Four

The information literate student understands the economic, ethical, legal, and social issues surrounding the use of information and its technologies and either as an individual or as a member of a group, uses information effectively, ethically, and legally to accomplish a specific purpose.

And I thought about trying a little harder in the coming year to really talk about the core issues with students, especially around understanding who to trust and how to sniff out bias and misinformation.

If I was doing a search in a class and landed on a Food Frontiers post, what would I say? What questions would I ask the students?

  • Who created this post and what is their agenda? Are their biases clear?
  • Is this science or is it advertising?
  • Did PepsiCo pay to have this information posted?
  • Are they engaging comments honestly and authentically?
  • How does the presence of this blog affect the credibility of other blogs on the site?
  • Is PepsiCo at all credible in this information space?
  • Would you use this information in your assignment? If so, would you use it as expert opinion like you would a peer-reviewed journal article or would you use it as background/social context?

Like I said, I'm still undecided. A appreciate comments and advice, perhaps even more questions that my hypothetical students should ask.

A good first step (irrespective of what my personal decision is going to be) would be for ScienceBlogs to make it as easy as possible for my students to answer those questions if and when they stumble upon a Food Frontiers post.

9 responses so far

Happy Blogiversary to me!

May 18 2010 Published by under blogging, personal

Yes, it was May 18, 2009 that I opened a new chapter in Confessions of a Science Librarian history.

One year on Scienceblogs -- it's been a fantastic experience, one that I'm looking forward to continuing for the foreseeable future.

Now, where's the cake?

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