Science Blogging

Christina did a great job blogging the “Science Blogging Conference” (post 1 ff). The discussions there covered three major usage scenarios of blogging in the sciences, and for me, the comments about one particular scenario were especially interesting.

  • Besides intra-group communication (especially the radar-like filtering, summarizing, and commenting of resources for colleagues), which is definitely a big affordance, and
  • besides journalistic blogging (“translating science to the public”), whose value-add beyond print media appears not very large to me,
  • the most intriguing scenario is: external exchanges with new potential collaborators.

Big problems with the traditional publishing culture were plausibly presented: Prematurely publishing results or even raw data bears the danger that someone might scoop the blogger scientist. The overall vision of an “open notebook science” replacing traditional slow peer-reviewed journals, seems still rather distant.

However, the newly afforded external communication could foster a different area that needs progress: theory building which suffers in our world focussed on empirical results.

For instance, P. Frensch and J. Funke state

“And finally, the development of problem-solving theories is in a rather desolate condition. Developing a theory, or multiple theories, is the most difficult job—and yet at the same time it is the prerequisite for additional experimental research.”

And G. Reinmann even identifies a “Methodological Monoculture”:

“there is a strong, one-sided demand and support of learning and educational research using experimental and quantitative methods. This results in a crises of innovation internationally lamented and followed by variable reactions.”

There is hope that scientists’ external blogging communication may positively affect this generation of the necessary new models and ideas. Not prematurely publishing results, but collaboratively reflecting the questions that guide the subsequent research, might help developping new theories and innovation, by leveraging the immense potential of the blogosphere’s proven diversity of perspectives. Yet, the lead or competitive edge is unlikely to be lost by the blogger who has an advanced position with their data being analysed in parallel.

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