My friends and colleagues at Nature Network (yes, I am a member of their auspicious group, although I have yet to start a blog there), have been passing a meme around amongst themselves. Martin Fenner is the culprit who started this whole thing off, so go yell at him about it. Anyway, in an effort to reduce NN’s inbreeding coefficient, I have decided that this is a perfectly good meme for the greater blogosphere, or at least for ScienceBlogs, especially since it is navel-gazing at its best, and who doesn’t enjoy picking through their own belly-button lint?
- What is your blog about?
- What will you never write about?
- Have you ever considered leaving science?
- What would you do instead?
- What do you think will science blogging be like in 5 years?
- What is the most extraordinary thing that happened to you because of blogging?
- Did you write a blog post or comment you later regretted?
- When did you first learn about science blogging?
- What do your colleagues at work say about your blogging?
Well, my blog has always been about science, but in addition to this, I write about other topics. My blog started out discussing my life as a postdoc in molecular evolution and the challenges associated with academic/research job-hunting (read: what it feels like to read hundreds of poorly-punctuated and mispelled rejection letters). However, my blog rapidly devolved into missives about unemployment, poverty, food stamps and medicaid, hopelessness, despair, mental illness and all the odd jobs I’ve applied for but am “not qualified” to hold. But thanks to my readers, my blog now mostly focuses on science, especially evolution and behavioral ecology, birds and birding, my travel adventures, NYC life, politics and social issues.
Not sure. It seems that anything is fair game these days.
I have never seriously considered leaving science. The fact that I was discarded like so much trash by academic/research science does not mean that I wouldn’t trade everything I own (a futon and roughly 15,000 books) to regain my lost career.
I write a blog about science, just to prove to the scientific world that they can’t throw me away so easily and also to remain in close contact with my colleagues and their research. But I would like to gain the courage to write a book, especially since I seem to have the writing ability, the necessary ideas, and even one of the best literary agents for science in the world on my side, so what’s holding me back? My fear of failure, which is almost palpable, at this one last thing that I love. I never was afraid of failure before because I always thought that working hard at something you love is sufficient for success, or at least, for not failing. But my rejection from science taught me that hard work and talent are not enough for success, and also that there are worse things than death.
No idea. I expect it will be more important as a communication tool, but the level of importance/influence it will occupy in academic and research science is not something I feel qualified to speculate about.
Wow, shall I make a list? First, I have connected with hundreds of postdocs around the world who are suffering similar employment issues, so I know my “failure” isn’t because I am an inept scientist. Second, I was invited to join ScienceBlogs as part of their “first wave”, which was an extrordinary honor that continues to provide me with both the professional credibility and community that I need. Being at ScienceBlogs has opened the door to speaking engagements around the world, guest lectureships at local universities, blog writing opportunities at professional conferences, book reviews and meetings with authors of those books that I’ve loved, and countless other joys. Third, my readers remind me that there are some really wonderful people in the world by supporting me with their compassion, gifts and donation$ to my landlord.
I am sure the christians and other religious wingnuts think I should regret some of the things I write, but no, I haven’t regretted anything I’ve written.
Actually, I had not heard of science blogging until some months after I’d actually started writing a blog, when I accidentally found the Tangled Bank blog carnival and then, a few days later, found another blog carnival, Grand Rounds. I was so pleased to find several groups of like-minded people that I ended up hosting both of these blog carnivals within six months of discovering them.
Considering that writing my blog is my work at this point, all my colleagues’ input is positive. However, before I became unhappily unemployed, I received a mixture of feedback from my colleagues at work. Some thought that exploring blog writing about science was an exciting new medium for public outreach and education, while others were strongly dismissive and openly hostile towards a blog and indicated having a blog would destroy my career. This second type of feedback was the reason I chose to write under a pseudonym.