A Blog Around The Clock

Now that the 2009 edition of Open Laboratory, the fourth annual anthology of the best writing on science blogs, is out and getting the first (very positive!) reviews on blog and in the media, it’s time to start looking ahead at the next year.

Yesterday I cleaned up the submission form, made the necessary edits, and opened it up – please go to the new Submission Form and start entering the posts you consider worthy of publishing in the book.

Each entry needs to be originally published as a blog post between December 1st 2009 and December 1st 2010 to be eligible.

You can nominate as many entries as you wish, written by you or by others.

Historically, about half of the submissions are nominated by readers and the other half by authors – there is no shame in self-promotion. Nobody knows your archives as well as you do, so dig through them, back to December 1st of last year, and pick a post or two to submit right now. Then, as the year progresses and you post more good stuff, come back and submit more.

History also shows that the number of entries you submit has no relation to your chances of getting picked. If your writing is good, a single submitted post has a chance. If it sucks, submitting 50 entries will not help (may actually bore the judges to death until they actively hate you for making them work so hard in an unlikely chance of picking something from that avalanche of posts).

Remember that this is going to be a book – printed on paper derived from dead trees, with black&white or grayscale images only. Until eReaders get really good at that and totally ubiqutous, audio and video files just don’t work on paper, so posts that rely heavily on those will not make it. Hyperlinks also do not work well on paper, so if your post relies on a number of external links, chances of that post getting printed are miniscule to zero (unless you can show how it can be edited and still be good). Can your post still be good if you eliminate pictures you don’t have copyright on? Or if you turn color images into grayscale? Go ahead, otherwise don”t bother – can’t be done. When judges sift through several hundreds of submissions in order to pick 52, posts that require lots of editing to make them fit for print are easy to cut out of the running. There is no reason not to edit a non-print-friendly post and repost it in a more print-friendly format before submitting it. In the end, if your entry gets into the final 52, you will be asked to do some editing anyway, and we may do some editing for you on top of that.

Bear in mind that one of the 52 posts that makes it into the book will be an original cartoon or comic strip. Also bear in mind that another one of the 52 posts that makes it into the book will be an original poem. And you are also encouraged to submit original art – if we are floored by it, we may decide to put it on the cover. The other 50 posts will be essays of different lengths, forms, formats, styles and voices, on 50 different topics, displaying the diversity, creativity and quality of writing in the science blogosphere.

If you also write for a magazine or newspaper as well as on a blog (independent blog or a blog hosted by a magazine/newspaper), please submit your blog posts and not your magazine/newspaper pieces. It does not matter if you are paid or not, but use this rule of thumb: if you posted out of your volition, on a topic you wanted to write about, it’s fine. If you wrote something because an editor asked you to, and this was subsequently edited and showed up on the main magazine/newspaper site online (and perhaps even in print), then it should not be submitted for this collection of (essentially amateur) work.

We want to see entries that discuss all areas of science, nature, environment, technology, health and medicine, as well as “meta” topics ranging from the Life in Academia, to women/minorities in science, to the intersection between science and policy (and politics) or religion, to skepticism, to history, philosophy and sociology of science, to the analysis of the science publishing world or science communication/journalism, to personal stories by scientists, to patient stories by physicians/nurses (or patients). Check out the 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009 editions to see what kinds of posts made it in the past years.

There is a great diversity of writers in the science blogosphere. Some bloggers consciously target their peers as their main audience. While wonderfully written, such posts tend to have a little bit too much technical jargon (and even formulae) for the lay audience. The target audience of the anthology is lay audience. Actually, the target audience for the book is even more lay than the usual readers of science blogs. These books are supposed to be given as presents to your Mom, or your non-science friends, to show them both that science is cool and that there is great writing on blogs. So, when choosing which posts to enter, look for those that are gripping and exciting and also easy to understand by just about everyone.

Again, here is the Submission form so you can get started. The badges/buttons that make it easy to submit will be available soon (check this blog in a few days). The year’s editor will also be announced on this blog soon. You can also join our Facebook fan page here.

Under the fold are entries so far (I tweeted the link yesterday, so the cat is out of the bag) and, as always, I will keep reposting the growing list regularly throughout the year so you can keep checking here to see what’s already been submitted (no need to submit duplicates – we just delete those extras – once is sufficient):


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A Blog Around The Clock: What does it mean that a nation is ‘Unscientific’?
A Blog Around The Clock: My latest scientific paper: Extended Laying Interval of Ultimate Eggs of the Eastern Bluebird

Anthropology in Practice: The Irish Diaspora: Why Even Trinidadians Are a Little Irish

Computing Intelligence: Sloppy Language in Science on Human Uniqueness

The Language of Bad Physics: Experiments in Non-Relativistic Modified Newtonian Dynamics (MOND)

Living the Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted): Made for Each Other: Evolution of Monogamy in Poison Frogs

Maniraptora: Tastes Like Chicken: Size Matters — Bigger is Better, Even for Male Pipefish

Mauka to Makai: Barnacle Sex

Medical & Bio-Inspired Innovations: Blood Pressure, Medication, Diet, And Dementia: What The Recent Research Tells Us

Observations of a Nerd: Evolution: The Curious Case of Dogs

PodBlack Cat: Presenting, Minorities And The Token Skeptic At #AtheistCon

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal: Epistemological Anarchists (comic/cartoon)