Saturday, August 21, 2010

You Can Skip This One

 
Some people are enamored with the idea of collecting blogs together into some kind of consortium. Several of these people, Anton Zuiker, Bora Zivkovic and Dave Munger, were so traumatized by the defections from ScienceBlogs they decided to create a new site bringing together all the science blog groups [scienceblogging].
Summer of 2010 saw a rapid reorganization of the science blogging community. Where once ScienceBlogs reigned as the most important network of science bloggers, in the wake of many noted bloggers’ departure from ScienceBlogs, a new ecosystem arose in which many different networks were founded, or grew, and became much more visible and prominent.

While the change from a system in which a single network dominates to a system in which many networks, aggregators, and services are somewhat equally represented is a positive one, leading to a healthier overall ecosystem, this development posed a new difficulty for readers: how to keep track of all of these networks and blogs?

There is now no one-stop-shopping place for a daily fill of science and culture – instead, there are dozens of such places. Thus a need arose to aggregate all these networks in a single web page as a starting point leading to all of the diverse places where science is discussed online.
Is your blog part of a "network"? Mine isn't. If you don't belong to a group of science bloggers then you don't count as far as scienceblogging is concerned. Isn't that strange?

Don't bother with scienceblogging unless you share their opinion that independent science blogs aren't worth reading.


17 comments :

  1. I found this to be quite frustrating. As the author of an (admittedly young) independent blog, it is quite frustrating to know that unless I eventually become part of a network, my posts are unlikely to feature in such feeds. Perhaps someone should construct a similar aggregator for independents.

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  2. Well, I agree that there's no "need" for such networks, as long as your readership knows how to use RSS, or linksharing sites like delicious, or social networking or whatever. And I do think that aggregators can be a nice tool, and there's no reason why "independents" like us can't participate in carnivals or aggregators like researchblogging. But Larry, you're being ridiculous here:
    Don't bother with scienceblogging unless you share their opinion that independent science blogs aren't worth reading.
    They didn't say that, and they surely don't think that.

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  3. How about rogue commenters? Maybe someday we'll be respected.

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  4. @Devin

    Not as long as we drink Pepsi.

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  5. Larry, I hope you'll go back to scienceblogging.org - a new post by Dave - and see that we don't intend to ignore indy science bloggers. You know from our annual ScienceOnline conference that we are extremely interested in an inclusive community. Scienceblogging.org will reflect this ethic.

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  6. I think this is a very unfair accusation -- there have been discussions both on Bora's blog and beyond about how to include indie bloggers -- everyone, including the founders, considers it a worthwhile issue. Just because indie feeds are harder to implement and haven't been taken care of YET, does NOT mean they don't deem your blog important enough. I think this is a rather crude pre-emptive strike. Nobody implied that non-networked blogs aren't "worthy" of attention. What you're saying is borderline libel.

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  7. mistersugar says,

    Larry, I hope you'll go back to scienceblogging.org - a new post by Dave - and see that we don't intend to ignore indy science bloggers.

    I see. It just sort of slipped your mind when you were writing the "About" section, right.

    Here's what you said...

    The result of this thinking is the page you are on right now – Scienceblogging.org (also Scienceblogging.com) is a new central clearinghouse for all your science needs. Built by Anton Zuiker, Bora Zivkovic and Dave Munger, the page will aggregate RSS feeds from all the major (and some minor) science blogging networks, group blogs, aggregators and services. As the site develops further, it will also encompass other online (and offline) science communication efforts, including Twitter feeds, links to major scientific journals and magazines, ScienceOnline annual conference, and the Open Laboratory annual anthology of the best writing on science, nature and medical blogs.

    If and when you incorporate other science blogs, I'll be interested to see how you organize them on the homepage.

    Will the major networks still receive top billing?


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  8. @mistersugar,

    Here's what Dave Munger says in his posting of August 20th.

    This site works by collecting groups of science blogs. Since there are thousands of science blogs, there’s no way the site could function if we collected them one-by-one. But we think it’s important to have a way to add new groups.

    It's all about adding new GROUPS. There's no mention at all about adding independent blogs.

    His posting just reinforces the point I'm making.


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  9. They do have some indpendent blogs - those who left ScienceBlogs but haven't joined a new collective.

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  10. The Blog on the site (as well the post on my blog) specifically ask the community HOW to go about adding independent blogs without making it a) too big to be useful, b) too labor-intensive and c) impossible to game by the likes of creationists. We welcome constructive suggestions. Site is in Beta - adding networks is easy, so it was done first. Adding thousands of independents is hard, which is why we are asking the hivemind to help. We are carefully reading what people say so we can build on it. There are already quite a lot of good suggestions out there. And constructive criticisms which we appreciate. Can you be constructive, provide good ideas to help, or prefer to criticize without even reading our blog posts that specifically deal with the problem of adding independent blog form Day One?

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  11. coturnix says,

    The Blog on the site (as well the post on my blog) specifically ask the community HOW to go about adding independent blogs ...

    I read all the comments on the Blog part of your site. I failed to notice any serious discussion about adding independent blogs that were not part of a network. Perhaps you could point out where this is mentioned?

    Adding thousands of independents is hard, which is why we are asking the hivemind to help.

    Of course it's hard. Nobody said that it would be easy.

    You only have two options. You can concentrate on giving preference to groups and networks and ignore independent blogs or you can try and cover all science blogs without disciminating.

    You've chosen the former strategy. We can all understand why you've done this because you've all been fans of blogging consortia in the past and you continue to promote this concept today.

    Can you be constructive, provide good ideas to help, or prefer to criticize without even reading our blog posts that specifically deal with the problem of adding independent blog form Day One?

    Here's my constructive criticism. Give up trying to be the one-stop shopping place for science blogs. (And give up your claim that ScienceBlogs was ever such a place.) You can't do it unless you make value judgments about which blogs to include and which ones to ignore and that's a recipe for disaster.

    When you say, "Scienceblogging.org (also Scienceblogging.com) is a new one-stop-shopping place for all your science needs" you must know that what you're saying is untrue. or do you really beleive that you're telling the truth?

    I really, really dislike the idea that you have to be a member of a collective in order to be a good science blog. Like it or not, that's the message you're sending with scienceblogging.

    Looking forward to seeing the "blog posts that specifically deal with the problem of adding independent blog form Day One."

    Meanwhile, I hope you enjoy listening to constructive criticism. So far, the three of you have been very defensive about ignoring independent blogs. Instead of apologizing and promising to fix the problem, you've been concentrating on claims that you never intended to ignore them in the fist place. This claim flies in the face of the statements you've made and the information that's still on the website.

    I actually believe Dave Munger when he says in the comments ...

    After the summer’s “PepsiGate” affair and the subsequent departure of 20 or so bloggers from ScienceBlogs, I suggested that if the departing bloggers want to continue to have the kind of influence they used to have at ScienceBlogs, they need to do something more than just start or restart their old, independent blogs. They need to form a new network — perhaps built around different principles, but a network nonetheless. They might choose to have a central site based on RSS feeds or some other aggregation system, but there needs to be a systematic way to connect their conversations. Otherwise, most readers will tune out. It’s simply too much work for most readers to follow a diverse set of disconnected blogs.


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  12. anonymous says,

    They do have some indpendent blogs - those who left ScienceBlogs but haven't joined a new collective.

    Which ones? I see some that are group blogs.


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  13. They're listed under "Sb Diaspora", and are exclusively former blogs from ScienceBlogs. (eg. Science after Sunclipse, Laelaps, Speakeasy Science, A Blog Around the Clock and others)

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  14. anonymous says,

    They're listed under "Sb Diaspora", and are exclusively former blogs from ScienceBlogs

    Thanks. I hadn't noticed that.

    It's an interesting concept. A pseudo-network of blogs that used to belong to a network but decided to become independent!


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  15. I managed to find your blog though it wasn't a member of a collective, but it would be nice to see it on scienceblogging.org.

    Got any ideas on how to make it easier for those folks to add your blog (and a couple of others I can think of, like T. R. Gregory's and Arlin Stoltzfus')?

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  16. Jud asks,

    Got any ideas on how to make it easier for those folks to add your blog (and a couple of others I can think of, like T. R. Gregory's and Arlin Stoltzfus')?

    No. I don't think it's possible to create a single site that lists all science blogs. As soon as you start pruning to eliminate the "worst" blogs, you introduce an element of subjectivity that defeats the purpose.

    Trying to impose order on the internet is like herding cats. It will never work. My main objection to sciencebloging is that they are making claims that they can't support. They are NOT a one-stop shopping site for the best science blogs. Instead, it's a highly biased personal opinion of what's important in the science blogging community.

    Nothing wrong with that, as long as they recognize it and don't try and fool their readers.


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  17. Hello there, long-time reader, first time commenter here.

    "Instead, it's a highly biased personal opinion of what's important in the science blogging community."

    Hear, hear! Most of the science blogs I follow are not now, and have never been on Scienceblogs or any other blog network. My reading habits online have NEVER matched up with for instance Scienceblogs, and if I ever arrive on a post on a Scienceblogs blog that I don't follow, it's because I found the post by other means than the Scienceblogs feeds. I am 100% sure there are many, many others like me.

    I can understand the good intentions behind Scienceblogging, but it's DEFINITELY giving off an air of "officialism" that is a bit troubling.

    I like something like researchblogging.org
    just because anyone can submit something and it's about individual posts. I use it as a sort of reference database almost.

    Also, I offer a very subjective observation: Isn't it so that in "network blogs" there are a lot more links to other blogs of the same network, than to "independent" blogs? I ask the question sincerely because if it's true, there's another great disadvantage with the blog network system. Among the small "independent" blogs I read, I tend to observe a greater variety of links.

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