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.


  1. The best blog I found during the week was entitled “The Science Punk”. In the search for my favorite blog of the week I went through several other blogging sites including “Be nice and don’t drop the baby” and “Save your breath for running ponies”. I did not like “Be nice and don’t drop the baby” because when looking through the site it did not have a very professional appearance, nor did the site do a good job in presentation of information. Furthermore, the site was dominated by text with few pictures interspersed. Although the primary purpose of blogs is to communicate information, the lack of pictures did not make the site very inviting to read. The second blog I explored entitled “Save your breath for running ponies” was much more welcoming than the previously discussed blog due to a greater number of colorful pictures and YouTube videos that acted to break up the large paragraphs of text. Although I enjoyed reading some of the articles on this blog as well as looking at the various Youtube videos and pictures presented, some of the text was a little too comical that it was difficult to take the writer seriously in their discussions of dinosaurs and evolution. I agree that there needs to be a sense of comedy and even sometimes sarcasm in articles provided it captures and holds the audience's attention, however, too much of it can discredit the information. The blog I chose as my favorite for the week, was colorful and inviting with numerous pictures and YouTube videos to break up the text and add further explanations to the stories presented. Furthermore, much like “Save your breath for running ponies” the text was comical and witty, however, it still maintained a sense of seriousness and professionalism that allowed the material to be more credible sounding. The blog was also organized in a way that made information easily accessible based on the topics one was more interested in. When perusing through blogs in general I found that I was attracted to those with funny and random titles rather than those that merely stated the focus of their writings such as “Climate Shifts”. I was also more apt to look over blogs with pictures and videos that went along with the text rather than just large paragraphs of information.

  2. It was my interest in animals that directed me to check out a blog called "Tetrapod Zoology". First of all, unlike other blogs, this blog does not spend half of its entries talking about the personal life of the author. Secondly, all of his posts are accompanied by pictures that give me an idea of what they are about and draw me in (as pictures tend to do). Third, this guys knows what he's talking about... but he's also entertaining. I'm not bored reading his entries and I learn something new within the first few sentences alone. And last but not least- zoology is one of my main interests. This is not to say that any zoology blog will fit these requirements. Another blog, called "Zooillogix" is interesting and entertaining (youtube videos of spider monkeys playing with jello are a plus). I enjoy this blog as well, however it just doesn't catch my interest like "Tetrapod Zoology" did.

  3. I have been reading a few science blogs for a while now, so it wasn't hard for me to find a few that I liked. A few of my favorites are "Living the scientific life: Scientist interrupted", "observations of a nerd" and "not exactly rocket science". All of these have a good sense of humor to them, which is pretty important for a science blog in my opinion. "Living the scientific life" and "observations of a nerd" also have great routine posts, such as the "mystery bird of the day" and "weekly dose of cute" which I enjoyed. Unlike Nichole, I sometimes like the bloggers that incorporate their personal lives into their blogs, like Dr. Isis' blog "On becoming a domestic and laboratory goddess." I think it lets readers relate to them on a personal level, although I do agree that there are some which cover too many personal stories and not enough science. One that I was kind of disappointed in was called "Invertebrate diaries." I thought I was going to like this one because a lot of its basis is on insects, but unfortunately I didn't find it very entertaining and a lot of the posts are not constructed so well.

  4. In evolution we were supposed to find a blog and write a short blurb about it on our blogs (from class). Dr. Posner comment about a blog titled "Not Exactly Rocket Science" which intrigued me. Not only was the name of the blog witty but Ed Yong (the author) had a type of charisma at least in his little biographical paragraph. The article I chose was about ancient mummies but Yong's charisma faded. It was more or less a newspaper article re-worded with nothing witty or entertaining included. Reading more of his recent articles, I've found the same conundrum. He states facts appropriately, but there's no flair.
    The minute Dr. Posner introduced us to "On Becoming a Domestic and Laboratory Goddess" I thought I'd found a blog that could relate to my circumstances: I'm a Bio major but I'm obsessed with shoes. While her most recent post about women in the workplace didn't really catch my attention (I'm not much of a feminist) her archived "Shoe of the week" kept me awake for hours. I know it's probably not what Dr. Posner was looking for when he sent us on this blog mission but NOT only is she a woman in science (like I plan to be) but she admits to not wearing a heel lower than 3inches (which I do not). She also cusses like a sailor (which I do), and believe it or not, owns at least three of the same pairs of shoes as me, spending WAY too much on them. I felt that maybe this is the wrong reason for adoring her blog so I went on the read some of her archived posts about actual scienc-ey things and found one where she admits, "I have a bit of a penchant for nerdy men who can talk science to me." If anyone reading this knows me (or Amy Drossman for that matter) you know I suffer from the same "penchant" (strong liking or inclination). While these aspects jump out at me, it's not as science-directed or professional as I assume we're supposed to be looking for or claiming that we "like the most." Overall Dr. Isis's blog may not be the most serious but it's certainly the most entertaining. I ran into other blogs titled "Respectful Insolence" and "Adventures in Ethics and Science" both written by highly educated people in science and while they were not bad (nothing like "Not Exactly Rocket Science") they still didn't grab me like Dr. Isis--although "Adventures in Ethics and Science" would be a very close second.

  5. When looking for science blogs on the Internet, I came across blogs that were interesting and others, not so much. The best blogs that I found throughout the week were entitled, “Not Exactly Rocket Science”, “The Times Microbal”, “The Evilutionary Biologist” and Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub”. All of these sites were well organized, humorous, and the information that was posted was easily accessible. Each one of them had either pictures or videos of what they were talking about and studying. I think it is a great way of allowing the reader to see what they are talking about with these visual aides, instead just paragraph after paragraph of info as I found in some blogs.

  6. After looking at many blogs on the Internet, I found some that were to my liking and some that were not. I found that I was more prone to look for blogs with funny titles, rather than serious ones. Some of the ones I enjoyed were "On Becoming a Domestic and Laboratory Goddess," "Observations of a Nerd," and "Science Punk." All three had humorous themes and very interesting articles. There was one blog that was more on the serious side that I found and actually enjoyed. I am interested in marine biology so the blog titled, "Deep-Sea News" provided me with great information. Even though the authors did not put in as much humor as found in other blogs, it provided a lot of great and interesting information that kept me reading. There were also great pictures of things they were talking about, which I think is necessary. A full page of text will scare anyone away.

  7. After reading through a few blogs on the internet I found a few that I liked and some that I didn't like at all. One of the blogs that I particularly liked was "Observations of a Nerd." The first post was about dogs and how humans have forced the evolution of dogs into different breeds and standards. Being the owner of 3 dogs this really interested me in how she discussed how breeding has not only changed the dogs physically, but also changed their attitudes, and also without human contact over time the dogs will, in some cases, revert back to the wolves that they originally evolved from. Another blog that also interested me was titled "Dr. Buttery;s Public Health Blog" In his blog posts he does some overviews with his comments over studies that directly affect the general public. Most of his discussions are from a toxicological standpoint which interested me as well. One of the great things about this blog was that the posts were kept fairly short and to the point instead of reading through multiple pages to get to the final conclusion on everything.

  8. After looking at a few of the blogs posted on the blog role, I found one blog that I liked. Observations of nerd shared a story on how dogs have been bred differently to suit humans. Everything from the size and shape to the color of their coats, dogs have been bred to look unique and friendly. At the bottom of the aricle the blog talks about wild dogs running around Moscow. These dogs are no longer domesticated and take on unique ways to survive. Some beg for food and act as people, they even wait for red lights to cross the road, while others are scavengers or followers to the alpha dog

  9. I know the assignment was to post the name of the “best blog”, but over the course of the week I found two blogs that caught my interest. The first blog is titled “Anna’s Bones” written by Anna Barros. In her blog she talks about her experiences an anthropologist, focusing on her “thoughts on bones, evolution, and everything in between”. Her posts are interesting, easy to follow, and fun to read. One of my favorite aspects of her blog pages is that her entries are often supplemented with data and figures from the scientific literature. Anna has a unique way of working relevant, personal anecdotes in with her posts that help make the subject matter easy to relate to. While some may view such stories as being unprofessional and unnecessary in scientific blog posts, I find that it makes the information more personable and thus easier to digest. If it’s your own blog, I think you’re entitled to have fun with it as long as you are able to clearly communicate your ideas to your intended audience.
    The second blog that caught my attention was the Scientific American blog page. This blog provides concise articles that inspired me to look for further information on several of the topics discussed in the blog. Most of the articles provide links to scientific literature pertaining to each topic. Not only does this blog report on some of the most interesting, up to date scientific advances in the field of biology, but it also has subcategories on evolution, space, energy, the brain, chemistry, and technology. Every science major should be able to find something of interest in this blog. My only gripe about the Scientific American blog page is that it does not usually include key figures supporting the data presented in each article, and that I have yet to find a way to add it to google reader (if you find a way, please let me know). Regardless, be sure to add this one as a favorite in your browser.

  10. My favorite blog postings were found on the website http://www.environmentalgraffiti.com/ . The website is set up to take the most interesting and/or bizarre environmental news out there and post the posts as a daily blog. I found the website looking at the recommended reads under the Google Reader. The first posting I read was about the Giant Japanese Hornet (GJH) that likes to feed on the honey of the European Honey Bees (EHB) that were introduced into their environment. What is interesting about this is that this was a special on NatGeo and the writer of this particular post enjoyed the episode and looked up some other interesting facts to share of the GJH. The GJH sends a scout out looking for the hives of the EHB and when one is found it marks the hive and goes back to get around 30 other GJH. These GJH then go back to the hive and pretty much kill the entire colony to get to the honey to feed and take the Bee larvae back to be fed on by their young. I guess one of the amazing things is that all this is done in about 3 hours time and that the GJH are 5 times bigger than the EHB. Their size is quite remarkable and I would suggest checking it out. The website itself is also truly unique with its wide array of postings from Ecology to Science/Tech to Offbeat news to Green living. Some of the postings are actually humorous and may not initially strike you as science postings but then who says all posts on a blogger site have to be. I would suggest going and checking out an old post called “The Giant Pink Rabbit that Appeared in the Alps” just for a good laugh. Don’t think that there isn’t a purpose for it either, you might be surprised to find out that this bunny is edible to the cattle that will later return to the area. Overall I enjoyed reading the interesting postings on the webpage and I would suggest that you check it out if you would like a good chuckle that involves some science.

  11. After spending some time looking over blogs online, I came across one that I liked called Eruption, by Dr. Eric Klemetti. As you can guess from the title, this blog is about volcanology. Each of his blogs has pictures and each blog also highlights what is happening with a particular volcano, or what new observations have been made. He seems to be particularly fond on Yellowstone, which apparently has been experiencing lots of mini-earthquakes all this month. I think that he does a really good job throwing out scientific jargon and then explaining it to the masses.

  12. After my first time ever wandering through blogs, I found several that caught my attention. They struck me as interesting with their approach took in relaying information. One of the first blogs I stumbled upon I thought was cute, "Adopt A Microbe". This blog lists common microbes and their responsibilities of making us sick, which is displayed in a somewhat elementary approach, by listing them as if each microbe has its own profile as if the microbe itself wrote the profile with a cute little picture to go along with it (although the pictures, I'm sure, don't accurately illustrate each microbe in real form) BUT For example,

    Rotavirus: "Hi
    My name is Rotavirus
    I'm from the Reoviridae family.

    I am the most common cause of gastroenteritis in kids.
    I love children under 4 four year old.
    I am biggest in the colder seasons.

    I cause diarrhoea.
    I also give the kids fever, nausea and vomiting.
    I'm very common, but don't let that fool you.
    My diarrhoea can be severe.
    I can kill if I'm not looked after."

    The blog gives readers the basics of each common microbe, but doesn't go as far as listing in-depth scientific information (just like a real profile which too only lists the basic information you need to know to get the jist of what that person, or in this case microbe, is about). This method would be best if teaching younger children basic differences about the most common viruses, but other than that it's just cute to look at.
    Another blog I found intersting was "The Daily Mammal" which is a blog set up to be almost exactly as if it were a newspaper about mammals. For example, you can click to find more information about "Mammal News" or discover more about a particular mammal of choice with neat little sketches of what that particular mammal is to look like followed by a description that is quite entertaining, yet somewhat educational at the same time.
    Overall, my first experience scrambling through science blogs turned out to be quite a thrill and I look forward to uncovering more interesting blogs in the future!

  13. I looked through a lot of science blogs and only saw a few that seemed interesting. One that seems to stand out for me is “Observations of a Nerd”. The posts that actually have scientific information are informative but not too long. The author almost never uses jargon. Each post has lots of examples of the topic, and some good pictures. The best article on there I saw so far was the one on dog evolution.
    Also, I tried to add a subscription to the Scientific American blog page, but Google Reader won’t let me for some reason. This one is a lot more technical, but still interesting.

  14. So after I figured out what an actual "blog" was and how to find, read, and add them to my Google Reader, I really found it interesting. Truthfully speaking, I already have about 12 blogs in my reader (I may have officially turned in to a science geek!) BUT, that's OK with me. So, one of the blogs that i found interesting was, of course, "On Becoming a Domestic and Laboratory Goddess". I liked her blog for the fact that she is an educated woman with many degrees and she is a mother and a wife. Yet, she is able to incorporate all of that into her own, unique blog. It also doesn't hurt that she likes to talk about shoes and princesses!
    I also liked "Wired Science" because he combined science and astronomy, which is interesting to me! His visualizations and YouTube videos were also pretty neat.
    Finally, I really liked "Ego sum Daniel" because his blog ties together science and religion (the first most important thing in my life...religion).