Several of my blogging colleagues have been discussing over the last few days whether there is value in cultivating fellow scientists as readers of science blogs. While some find this a waste of time, others recognize that blogs provide a useful, real-time platform for disseminating information and discussing current issues and career development challenges that cannot be done well in print format. The informality of the blog also allows for frank discussion to be had between senior scientists, trainees, and the general public that do not often (if at all) occur at one’s home institution.
Colleague Isis (and her generous readers!) has done a terrific job lately in using her blog to cultivate career development funds in support of an American Physiological Society David S. Bruce Award for outstanding undergraduate research. This effort has increased awareness among society members and leadership regarding the value of blogs to the greater scientific community.
[H]ow do we blog to scientists who do not know or understand blogging, or who have the pre-conceived notion that blogs are places where 16 year old girls write about what they had for breakfast?
My answer is influenced heavily by discussions I have had with my colleague DrugMonkey, an NIH-funded scientist who is outside my area of expertise but with whom I share these goals:
We infiltrate our scientific societies and demonstrate the value that blogs add to scientific discourse and/or career development. As Isis has begun to make inroads with APS, I suggest that each of us in a position to do so should propose an education or career development session at the next annual meeting of our respective societies.
Propose a program that would include Bora Zivkovic (Bora is essential because he can speak so broadly and authoritatively on the medium) and two or three additional specialist bloggers. Big networks such as ScienceBlogs or Nature Network should provide sponsoring support and add gravitas to “legitimize” such efforts.
This may be tough for pseudonymous bloggers but some of us who aren’t students and have less to lose by being considered scientist-bloggers (gasp!) have begun writing under our real names on blogs that might be considered more “professional.”
As you have shown us, iGoddess, lead and the leaders will follow.