Terra Sigillata

CORRECTION: The following was to be a part-sincere/part-serious sendup of my buddy Bora’s penchant for monitoring the entire Internet. Bora did indeed host the first edition of Praxis, the new blog carnival of academic life.

However.

The Praxis experimental carnival of “the experience of living the scientific” was established, founded, and otherwise continues to be led by Martin, author of The Lay Scientist blog.

i-37014430e6115dd0a4d645826d9d3d6f-Martin.gifMini Bio:
Well I’m Martin, I live in Cambridge, England, and this is me on the Amazon in 2007. I did a frankly weird Ph.D. looking at the relationship between models from ecology, immunology and socioeconomics, and currently I’m a soon-to-be-unemployed post-doc working on ecological and biological modeling.

Bora did indeed suggest the idea in his comment to his own post on blog carnivals. But it was Martin who on that very same day conceived and compiled the listing, call for a name, called for hosts and posts, and all else associated with establishing a new blog carnival: guidelines, schedule, etc.

And you’ve got to love a gent who leads off Sunday morning with a post entitled, “What Does Human Flesh Taste Like?” that refers to science itself and not that crackergate fiasco.


PraxisI’ve gotta say that I sometimes feel sorry for my bud, Bora Zivkovic. It seems as though Teh Internetz aren’t big enough to exhaust his attention so he feels that he must start a new blog carnival. He mused about it a couple of weeks ago, and now here it is:

Bora is hosting the first edition of Praxis, whose mission statement is as follows:

The carnival is intended to cover all aspects of life as an academic, whether it’s the lifestyle, career progress, doing a Ph.D., getting funding, climbing the slippery pole, academic life as a minority, working with colleagues and students, dealing with the peer-review process, publishing, grants, science 2.0, amusing anecdotes, conference experiences, philosophical musings, public engagement, or even historical articles about what life was like in the good (or bad) old days.

Praxis is derived from the term by Aristotle as the activity or process of practicing or enacting knowledge.

I used to write a lot more about academic mentoring and such but have really dropped off as of late. Still, the Amazing Zivkovic was generous enough to find and grab two of our recent posts to put in Praxis, one on the NEJM article on medical curriculum revision and the other a brief blurb on the latest act of terrorism against researchers who employ animal subjects.

i-1a98a722f89840fa3464e29715e74017-Bora-NYC-08.09.08-250-px.gifFor those who aren’t as hip to the blog carnival concept, I encourage you to read on of the nicest treatises on the subject written recently by the Internet Schnoz himself. (Doesn’t “Zivkovic” sound like a toast for good health in some Eastern European language, sort of like “Nazdrovia!”?). Bora has actually written repeatedly on the subject but this post is a terrific update that includes a long list of carnivals likely to be of most interest to readers ’round these parts. Here are some the highlights:

Let’s say you consider yourself to be a new science blogger by some reasonable criteria. You tend to write about various topics in science, nature, medicine, environment, you debunk pseudoscience or muse about the life in the academia. If you are a new blogger, nobody knows about you, your traffic is 3 visits per day, and you have no idea who else out there writes stuff you are interested in – carnival is a place for you. . .

. . .But still, ….why?

Because this is the best way to build a community around a particular topic – the quickest, easiest way for people who are harboring similar interests to find each other, decide if they like each other, to boost each other’s rankings and traffic, and, if needed, to organize together for some kind of action. In best cases, you will meet some of those bloggers in person and forge new friendships, or even scientific collaborations.

. . .How about the old-timers?

If you are an older, already prominent blogger, your participation will not likely affect your traffic, popularity or rate of commenting. But, you are prominent at least in part because you were an early adopter – one of the first science bloggers around. It is almost a duty, or pay-back time, to promote those who are good but new and need our help and promotion. It is not hard to link to new editions of carnivals, occasionally host one, sometimes send an entry to one or another carnival. It boosts other people’s traffic, it boosts their confidence (“I was in the same carnival with PZ!”), and helps build the community. You/we should all do it sometimes.

That reminds me I have been really bad about promoting carnivals or contributing to them myself. I’ve even hosted The Skeptic’s Circle on the old blog and Tar Heel Tavern at my nearly-dead local blog. I’ve also been featured in other carnivals like Grand Rounds and Scientiae.

There have also been some new ones I should be part of like the Cancer Research Carnival started by the bayblabbers. And I have this 5-month-old e-mail from the Hungarian medical student equivalent of Bora, Berci Meskó of Science Roll, asking if I would host or contribute to Gene Genie, the blog carnival of genetics, or Medicine 2.0.

I’ll get back with the program. Although I’m not an “old-timer” I was certainly helped out by more prominent carnival hosts back when I was in single-digit traffic numbers. As the blogosphere expands, carnivals are a great way to sift through the best posts in any area you find of interest.

I might add that blog carnivals are a great way to create community, one that I found first well before being assimilated into the ScienceBorg. In fact, Bora and Orac were the first to include me in carnivals and they are two of the bloggers with whom I have spent the most time in meatspace. Knowing Bora in particular has broadened my sphere of knowledge and introduced me to local and international communities I might not have otherwise known.

So go read Praxis – and remind me to get more involved with carnivals again.

Comments

  1. #1 Coturnix
    August 16, 2008

    Thank you for your kind words! And that is a good picture of Professor Steve Steve with that guy….

    And yes, you need to support your favourite carnivals more often!

  2. #2 Martin
    August 17, 2008

    Lol, many thanks for the update… and to think, my face on ScienceBlogs… Hollywood awaits!

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