Well. There’s another paper out discussing science blogs, which is a good thing, I suppose. I just find the conclusion a bit disappointing. Bora has an exhaustive dissection, and both The Panda’s Thumb and Cosmic Variance have briefer (they’d have to be! Bora got loquacious) discussions of the topic.
Where the author loses me is with this summary.
To become a tool for non-scientist participation, science blogs need to stabilize as a genre or as a set of subgenres where smaller conversations may facilitate more meaningful participation from members of the public. Science bloggers need to become more aware of their audience, welcome non-scientists, and focus on explanatory, interpretative, and critical modes of communication rather than on reporting and opinionating.
We don’t need to ‘stabilize’ on anything: the virtue of this medium is unfettered diversity. Pharyngula is not to everybody’s taste (really!), but is just right for some others — the wonderful part of the science blogosphere is that we have so many different ideas bouncing around out here. Why, there are even people who disagree with me!
I also think I am pretty aware of my audience, and if you look at the comment threads here, they aren’t just scientists. This is the gladiatorial arena of the science blogosphere, and we don’t restrict attendance to the prissy ol’ patricians — everyone likes a good bloody rhetorical battle now and then. I know my readers like it when the bestiarii take on those animals, the creationists, and they also like the gladiatorial competitions between equals. And then we often break into homilies and tutorials. If that isn’t appealing to a wide audience, I don’t know what is.
I can’t help but think that the author had some preconceptions about how a science blog should be (which usually means antiseptic, pure, aloof, esoteric, and technical) and found that they are rarely that way at all. And was a bit disappointed.