Thursday, January 28, 2010

Writing your first blog posts

Congratulations on setting up your new science blogs, perhaps your first blog ever.  I'd like you to try some writing before next week's class.  Go ahead and do the following:
  1. Have someone in your group email to me the URL for your blog so that I can link it to the central course blog.
  2. Coordinate with the others in your group to add a post that introduces your blog.  Explain to your readers what your blog is for, what you plan to cover, maybe even how you chose your name.  These are just suggestions.  It is your blog, so your introduction is up to you.
  3. Then I would like each member of your group to add one post prior to next week's class.  This can be on anything sciency that you like, but try to use the discussions we have had on good science writing when crafting your post.  I would prefer that you do not all wait until midnight on Tuesday to post.  Please give me some reading throughout the week.
  4. Check out a new You Tube video I posted today that runs through some tips on using Blogger to write posts.
  5. And of course be sure to read the selection of Tom's writing from my last post.
Lastly, feel free to tinker with the settings on your new blog.  The person in your group who set up your blog will need to go to the "permissions" tab under "settings" and make you an administrator for the blog.

Leave any questions you have as comments to this post and I will get back to you with answers.  Have fun.

Background for our video visit with Tom Hayden

Our guest in next week's class will be the freelance science journalist Tom Hayden (not to be confused with the 60's era political activist and former husband to Jane Fonda).  I met Tom in 1993 as a grad student in the marine biology program at USC.  Sometime around year three of our program Tom got a summer internship as a science writer for Newsweek magazine in New York City and never turned back.  In addition to being a staff writer at Newsweek, he has worked at U.S. News & World Report and has written freelance for Wired, Nature, The Washington Post and National Geographic (among others).  He is also the author of two books, including the recent Sex and War.

Next week's class is a great opportunity for us to learn first hand about science communication from someone who does it professionally.  To get ready, I would like you to read some of Tom's work, and take notes on questions that you might like to ask about these specific articles and science writing/communication in general.  I hope that we can get a good discussions going.

Read the following before next week's class:
Recently Tom has been working on more multimedia pieces that involved collaborations with four to eight other writers and editors:

    Tuesday, January 26, 2010

    Some online background on Randy Olson

    The second chapter of Don't Be Such a Scientist mentions Randy's work on the Shifting Baselines project. If you have not googled it yet, check out their webpage.

    Want to see Randy talk about his book?  Does he communicate well?  You can also see what reviewers at Science and Nature thought about the book.

    And I just discovered that Randy has a Wikipedia page?  Do you think he wrote it?

    Tuesday, January 19, 2010

    Almost time to start a blog

    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 chapter 2 in the Olson book.
    2. Read chapter 4 from Deborah Blum's Field Guide for Science Writers and be ready to discuss it next week in class.
    3. Read the 25 tips from the science writer at the Guardian.
    4. Read the single page on naming a blog.
    5. Start reading through some science blogs to find ones that you like, and ones that you don't like.
    6. 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.  Add this blog to your Reader account, and be sure to check it often.
    7.  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 11, 2010

    Welcome to our central blog

    This will be our central collaborative space for Bio 495 this semester.  Feel free to look through material on this blog from past courses.  We will start talking about how to blog, and why to blog about science, soon.