Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Your first posts

Due to the snow day we are not able to set up blogs for this week.  But I would like you to start working on your first posts.  Last week we briefly discussed what topics each of you would cover on your blog (toxicology/pharmacology; environmental science/ecology; medical/health; general cell/molecular; a hybrid blog for the 2 pm class).  You probably know which of these five groups you fall into.  So now it is time to write your first posts.  Here are your assignments for the week:
  1. Drop by my office and pick up another handout on good science writing.  I will place these in a box outside my office door by noon on Thursday.
  2. Write a post critiquing another science blog post anywhere in the blogosphere.  Use your reading about good science writing to evaluate someone's writing.  You can pick a very well written post and explain why it is so good.  Or pick one that could be better, but explain why.  Be specific.  Cite specific examples and specific ideas from your reading on science writing (are you catching a specificity theme here?). TicTacJoe pointed out a particularly good blog post that he likes. I have one on limpets and global warming that I like (but then I am a little biased). You can critique these or any others that you find. Next week you will use your critique as your first posted blog entry, including a link to the original post.  Be aware that people can trace back to posts that link to theirs.  So you might want to avoid critiquing a post that you would need to trash.
  3. Write your own post on something that interests you.  You have been reading (hopefully) lots of science blog posts over the last week.  Now it is time to try your own. Practice the techniques that you have been reading about, but don't get too caught up in making it perfect. But you should proofread and make sure there are no typos or grammatical mistakes.  There is no excuse for that.
  4. Keep adding blogs that you like to your Google Reader account.
  5. Check out this informative article on blogging from Slate.
For now, write your two posts in Word or some other word processing app.  You will add them to your real blog next week.  

Post any questions, comments or problems about this assignment in the content feed of this post.  And have fun!

Snow falls, classes canceled

As you probably already know, classes are canceled today.  This means we will wait until next week to organize and set up our blogs.  However, your assignment to comment on your favorite blog for the week is still due today.  I notice that some of you have not completed this assignment.  You should also have set up a google reader account and started loading blogs into it.  

The following post will give you some assignments for next week.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Blog carnivals and competitions

I thought of a couple of other approaches for finding great science blogs:
  1. Blog carnivals are collections of blog posts on specific topics.  Authors can submit their own posts, which are then hosted by a different blog on a rotating basis.  For example, Carnival of the Blue is a marine themed carnival.
  2. Best of competitions - these are judged events to select the best blog posts.  The Open Laboratory is one of the better known examples from science.  If you write something great this semester think about submitting it for the 2009 competition later this year.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Finding good science blogs

While a relatively small fraction of the million of blogs on the web are science blogs, there are still a lot to look through.  Here are a few ideas for finding them:
  1. Use a blog search engine like Blogsearch or Technorati.
  2. Check out some science blog aggregators like the Nature Blog Network, Blog for Darwin, and of course ScienceBlogs.  The first two are sites that you can register with that will show your blog posts, essentially advertising your blog for you.  The third is an invite only site that, I think, pays its bloggers.
  3. Click on links in the blogrolls of the blogs that you read.  These are lists that run along the right or left side of a blog that link to other blogs.  You can quickly surf your way through dense networks of blogs, and you may notice the web cliques that people belong too.
I look forward to seeing what you find.  Be sure to add the good ones to your google reader account.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

So let's think about blogging

Next week in class you will be starting up your own blogs.  In the meantime I would like you to read a bit about science writing and check out the science blogs that are already out there.  Here is your assignment for our next class:
  1. Read the chapter from Deborah Blum's Field Guide for Science Writers and be ready to discuss it next week in class.
  2. Start reading through some science blogs to find ones that you like, and ones that you don't like. I'll post soon with ideas on how to find blogs to read.
  3. Use Google Reader to start following your favorite blogs.  This RSS reader will be important as you follow each other's blogs and when looking for post ideas.
  4.  Leave a comment to this post with the name of the best blog you find during the week and what it is about it that you like.

Monday, January 19, 2009

How does the public view science?

On Wednesday we will talk about whether and how scientists should communicate their work to the public.  But what do we know about how the public views science?  Seed Magazine recently had a series of articles on the State of Science, with a couple pages devoted to this question.

Also check out the slideshow on Science Cafes.  The third slide is of our local Cafe in Cleveland at the Great Lakes Brewing Company.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

How do you get into grad school?

Brittni asked that we talk about what to do if one does not get into grad school.  Maybe a better starting point is to talk about how to get into grad school.  Here is an interesting post, guest written by an eminent cardiovascular physiologist, on how to impress a University professor when interviewing to become a part of their lab.

Notice the somewhat typical snarky mood of this blog.  Humor is a good way to keep people reading, but is not always necessary.  Brad asked about anonymity in blogging - well Dr. Isis does blog anonymously.  And she blogs about shoes.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Welcome to our central blog

This will be a place where I can post information about class, links to online content and eventually links to your blogs.  It was great to hear about your diverse interests today and I am looking forward to good discussions with all of you.
Remember to bring your completed survey with you next week and be prepared to discuss the reading from Science in Public.
I thought I would give you a couple of links to get you started poking around the science blogosphere:
  • ScienceBlogs is a collection of science bloggers (duh) organized by the Seed Media Group, a publishing house that produces the great science magazine Seed
  • And in a bout of shameless self-promotion, here is the link to my blog, A Fish Eye View
Remember to check back to this space, as I hope to post every couple of days.