Wednesday, January 20, 2010

I'm Back! (Sort of)

I've been rather quiet lately, with a bunch of projects taking up my time and sending me all over the countryside with little opportunity for the internet, and most of that taken up with a recently completed project, the brag for which you may see at the upper left: I was selected to be a judge for Open Lab 2009, in the neurology division, which was sort of flattering, given that my expertise in the subject is entirely self-taught, mostly from books and technical papers.

I had (AFAIK) only one entry, which wasn't selected, which didn't surprise me. My big posts make extensive use of links (e.g. to explain vocabulary), especially to Wiki, and Open Lab is basically a book, with the selected blog posts printed on real paper. Handling links is presumably a tough issue, and posts that make extensive use of links aren't really all that appropriate.

Which brings me to the next subject of this post, which is blogging itself. (For reasons of time I'm not going to supply links for most of what I say.) Blogging started out (AFAIK) as mostly a way for people to put up links to interesting web pages, perhaps with a few comments. Much of it remains like this, but science blogging has evolved, in part, to something more sophisticated, including explanations of technical issues, and (including here) discussions at relevant tangents.

I was marginally involved in the early days of blogging, being a contributer to HotWired Threads, and one of the original contributers to NewsTrolls. NewsTrolls was an early blog set up by a HotWired Threads contributer called Pasty Drone, as HotWired Threads was winding its way down into obscurity.[1],  It focused on news items, and had a comments section much as modern blogs do. (This site has since vanished, as have the old Threads on HotWired.)

Even then, I was somewhat skeptical of this format, or rather I didn't see it as being optimum for what I wanted to write. My own purpose, usually, is to make a point based on and relating to peer-reviewed science, while most science blogging today is more a matter of explaining the technical aspects of peer-reviewed science for those who don't understand enough to get it from the paper itself.

However, Blogger makes a great platform for expressing myself without having to code the entire site by hand, so for the moment that's where I'm at.


1.  Educational Blogging by Stephen Downes

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