a painting by Artologica, showing themes from biology

Exploration 1, by Artologica

Today I ran across a Twitter posting by Paul Knoepfler ‏ @pknoepfler: Professors who blog: academia’s love hate relationship with social media http://bit.ly/JFzB2R @phylogenomics @pzmyers

It was retweeted by Jonathan Eisen (aka @phylogenomics, one of the most engaged and social media-savvy scientists I am aware of). The blog posting by Dr. Knoepfler, a known stem cell researcher, decried the low number of professors who blog. As it happens when somebody posts about a relevant and controversial issue, the comments were as interesting to read as the original post. I hope you will visit it- it has a lot  to do with how “official” science looks with suspicion on side-activities such as blogging, writing, or even outreach- we are talking now of research-intensive universities, where teaching is a distraction and it is number of publications and grants that count in the pursuit of the Holy Grail = tenure.

I got distracted enough to follow the trail of comments and links for almost an hour. One thing that bothers me a lot about academia (and here I talk about high octane, research intensive institutions) is their disconnect from real life and real people. Science writers and bloggers do a lot to make science understandable to non-specialists (and by this I mean both non-scientists or scientists from another speciality), and this is an effort that should be applauded and encouraged. Science funding comes from many sources, and it is just fair that people should understand where their money is going to. Not to mention that we scientists need to make science interesting so young people want to go into science. We are already seeing the anti-science backlash in the climate change and vaccine deniers.

Going back to blogging, I was happy to see a new posting about reader recommended science bloggers, and already checked out some. Check this out also: the best science writing of 2012, in Amazon.

And, keep writing your blogs, please. This is not only a class assignment, it is also a reflection of your journey into deeper science, an online portfolio of your thoughts and interactions with others, and maybe a vehicle that will help your career.