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Category: science blogging

The UK's Daily Mail has found a nifty way to cover science: Simply use other people's stories.

Case in point: On Aug. 6, the science blogger and author Brian Switek, whose obsession with dinosaurs rivals Wile E. Coyote's with The Road Runner, wrote...

The UK's Daily Mail has found a nifty way to cover science: Simply use other people's stories.

Case in point: On Aug. 6, the science blogger and author Brian Switek, whose obsession with dinosaurs rivals Wile E. Coyote's with The Road Runner, wrote a delightful piece for Smithsonian.com entitled, "The Top Ten Weirdest Dinosaur Extinction Ideas," including such things as "extra-terrestrials eliminated the dinosaurs to make room for humanity," and the idea that caterpillars wiped them out by eating all the vegetation, leaving herbivores with "nothing to eat but each other."

On Aug. 8, the Daily Mail ran a not-quite-as-delightful...

Every week, Tabitha M. Powledge distills the theme of the week's science blogs and presents us with some of the best posts she's found in her incessant scavenging. She's been doing this weekly since 2009. Her columns have often been mentioned here on the Tracker and they will continue...

Every week, Tabitha M. Powledge distills the theme of the week's science blogs and presents us with some of the best posts she's found in her incessant scavenging. She's been doing this weekly since 2009. Her columns have often been mentioned here on the Tracker and they will continue to be, even if she disagrees with us about Nate Silver's move to ESPN. Even if she disagreed with us for two weeks running about Nate Silver. We're over it. We're...getting over it.

I'm happy to report that On Science Blogs will continue, but you won't find it any longer at the home page of the National Association of Science Writers. Powledge has been invited to join the science...

I've recently been distracted and enlightened by some amusing, quirky, unexpected, and just plain interesting items from popsci.com, the website of Popular Science magazine.

Today, for example, you can find what might be the only story you will see that addresses how the...

I've recently been distracted and enlightened by some amusing, quirky, unexpected, and just plain interesting items from popsci.com, the website of Popular Science magazine.

Today, for example, you can find what might be the only story you will see that addresses how the Civil War would have been different if its generals had used drones.  I read it because it sounded a bit goofy, but I learned a lot about the Civil War and the technology of warfare, then and now. The story also addresses how tanks and modern artillery and communications would have altered the war.

I can't say my life was changed by a story on urinals with built-in sinks, but the picture made me chuckle:

...

What are we looking for when we turn to science blogs?

That question is prompted by a post from Colin Schultz, who blogs for Smart News at Smithsonian Magazine. In the post, which he titled, "...

What are we looking for when we turn to science blogs?

That question is prompted by a post from Colin Schultz, who blogs for Smart News at Smithsonian Magazine. In the post, which he titled, "Writing in an Hour: Story Ideas From a Journalistic Blogger," he makes the case for quick blog posts. "I write each of my stories in an hour or less. Sometimes I’ll take longer if I’m doing something bigger. But, in general, I have an hour to research and write each story." The post is a recap of a talk he gave in June at the Canadian Science Writers' Association's annual meeting.

Schultz calls this "journalistic blogging" and he explains it this way: "It’s a job. I don’t just write what and whenever I want. I have an editor, I have deadlines. I work...

When I was looking for my first journalism job, I did my best to scrape together a clip here and there. Every time I got a new one, I sent it with my resume to all the suburban papers around Boston, where I lived at the time. For the first couple of years, nobody replied.

Then I got a call from a fellow who...

When I was looking for my first journalism job, I did my best to scrape together a clip here and there. Every time I got a new one, I sent it with my resume to all the suburban papers around Boston, where I lived at the time. For the first couple of years, nobody replied.

Then I got a call from a fellow who identified himself as the city editor at the Lowell Sun. He invited me in for an interview. Why? "We had five copies of your resume in the file, and we decided we had to either hire you or get rid of you. We don't have any more room."

I did get hired, but not on the staff. I was given a halftime position with no benefits, at a rate of $100 per week. I was told that if I worked 40-50 hours a week in my "halftime" position, and if I did a spectacular job, they might--might--hire me as a regular staffer. It took me about a year to get hired.

It has always been tough to break in to journalism. And it's tough...

It's been about three months since National Geographic announced that it was starting a new blog network called Phenomena, and so it seemed like a good time to drop in and...

It's been about three months since National Geographic announced that it was starting a new blog network called Phenomena, and so it seemed like a good time to drop in and see how things are going

The design is a little different from the usual blog setup, in which each new post rests on the shoulders of those that came before, as with the Tracker. The posts are in reverse chronological order--with the newest at the top--but each page contains a horizontal space at the top with a teaser for a post, and then eight vertical tiled teasers below that, each with a photograph. I can't decide whether this design is an improvement on the usual design, or a minor distraction. In either case, the design is secondary to the quality of the posts--which is superb.

One could hardly have...

Curtis Brainard at the Columbia Journalism Review's The Observatory has talked to Discover magazine for a reaction...

Curtis Brainard at the Columbia Journalism Review's The Observatory has talked to Discover magazine for a reaction to the recent blogger exodus that Deborah Blum covered here at the Tracker.

A week ago, news broke that  Ed Yong (his blog is Not Exactly Rocket Science) and Carl Zimmer (The Loom) were leaving Discover for National Geographic's new Phenomena blogging collective to be run by National Geographic science editor Jamie ShreevePhil Plait (Bad Astronomy)...

It's unclear how the Discover blogger Ed Yong finds time to blog, considering all the reading he has to do to assemble posts like today's ...

It's unclear how the Discover blogger Ed Yong finds time to blog, considering all the reading he has to do to assemble posts like today's Happy Ada Lovelace Day--a celebration of women science writers.

I spend a lot of time hanging with this crowd of writers online, but I don't keep up nearly as well as Yong does--and some of those he seems very familiar with are entirely new to me. I have a lot of homework to do.

And so should you. Please thank Yong for this incredible feast of science writing, and enjoy yourself.

-Paul Raeburn

This year's Nobel Prize in Chemistry, announced yesterday,  was the source of a fascinating philosophical discussion about how we define chemists and their work, a discussion far more evident in science blogosphere than the main stream media.

The award went to two American medical researchers, Dr....

This year's Nobel Prize in Chemistry, announced yesterday,  was the source of a fascinating philosophical discussion about how we define chemists and their work, a discussion far more evident in science blogosphere than the main stream media.

The award went to two American medical researchers, Dr. Robert J. Lefkowitz, 69, a professor at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C., and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute researcher, and Dr. Brian K. Kobilka, 57, a professor at the Stanford University School of Medicine, for their work illuminating the way that a certain class of receptors in cell...

I'm a day late pointing readers to the latest edition of On Science Blogs by Tabitha M. Powledge on the NASW website. She looks at chronic fatigue syndrome and prostate cancer, and proposes her own intriguing theory about a...

I'm a day late pointing readers to the latest edition of On Science Blogs by Tabitha M. Powledge on the NASW website. She looks at chronic fatigue syndrome and prostate cancer, and proposes her own intriguing theory about a possible cause of prostate cancer. 

-Paul Raeburn

In December 2006, the pioneering science blogger, Bora Zivkovic, met with his colleague, Anton Zuiker, to work on plans for the first Triangle Science Blogging Conference. They decided to try putting together an anthology of the year's...

In December 2006, the pioneering science blogger, Bora Zivkovic, met with his colleague, Anton Zuiker, to work on plans for the first Triangle Science Blogging Conference. They decided to try putting together an anthology of the year's best science blog posts and ask their conference sponsor, Lulu.com., to publish it as a handout for conference attendees.

Fast forward to this year:  Zivkovic is the science blog editor for Scientific American and the conference has become one of the hottest tickets in science communication (Science OnLine 2013 begins January 30 in Raleigh, N.C.). And what began as The Open Laboratory 2006 has evolved into the first of a series of high-caliber trade books titled The Best Science Writing Online 2012, ...

Last week, I posted on the future of Discover magazine's blogs and bloggers, and the reassuring news seemed to be that nothing would change. It was reassuring because Discover's blog network is widely thought to be...

Last week, I posted on the future of Discover magazine's blogs and bloggers, and the reassuring news seemed to be that nothing would change. It was reassuring because Discover's blog network is widely thought to be among the best science blog networks anywhere.

"They set the standard for other bloggers," said David Dobbs, who blogs at Wired. "Anyone would like to move there, I think. They are one of the best supported logistically and financially, and it shows in the product."

My post last week addressed the quality of Discover's blog network. But since I posted it, several people have raised a different question: Will the compensation paid to Discover's bloggers change?

Kalmbach Publishing Co., Discover's owner, ...

For those of you who have been wondering, as I have, about the future of Discover magazine's distinguished blog network, the early word is: Nothing will change.

That's what the publisher, Kalmbach Publishing Co., is telling the staff. As I...

For those of you who have been wondering, as I have, about the future of Discover magazine's distinguished blog network, the early word is: Nothing will change.

That's what the publisher, Kalmbach Publishing Co., is telling the staff. As I reported here in mid-August, Kalmbach executives told editor Corey Powell that they "like the magazine as it is, and the intention is to keep the magazine intact." The same message has been sent to the bloggers, who include the distinguished writers and scientists Sean Carroll, Carl Zimmer, Ed Yong, Phil Plait, and others. But the publisher has not provided a lot of detail.

"We weren't told anything ahead of time, and not much since. But what we were told is that the blogs are expected to go on more or less exactly as before," Carroll told me in an...

Why do so many bloggers begin with great enthusiasm only to abandon a few heartfelt posts to the sands of time?

Neuroskeptic, the neuroscience blogger,...

Why do so many bloggers begin with great enthusiasm only to abandon a few heartfelt posts to the sands of time?

Neuroskeptic, the neuroscience blogger, explains why those first weeks and months are so difficult:

The early days of any blog are psychologically tough because almost inevitably, your first posts are not going to get the recognition they deserve...That's because people tend to really pour their hearts into early posts - these are the ones that express thoughts you've been mulling over for ages and are finally writing about - and then inevitably, hardly anyone reads them...

The emergent blogger (I've been there more than once) is so happy to finally have a chance to say things from the heart, without a meddling...

Looking for good science writing online? You couldn't find a better field guide than The Open Laboratory 2012, a collection some of the best writing on science blogs in 2011.

...

Looking for good science writing online? You couldn't find a better field guide than The Open Laboratory 2012, a collection some of the best writing on science blogs in 2011.

This is the sixth collection in which Bora Zivkovic, Scientific American's blog editor, and various co-conspirators have reviewed science-blog posts to come up with some of the best of the lot. Jennifer Ouellette was the editor this year, along with Bora. Together they read and re-read 720 entries. Amanda Moon, of Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, decided the...