Workshop: Julia Whitty on blogging for science (Part I)

“The blog is (arguably) the greatest tool for the broadcast of science in our history.” – J. Whitty Deep Blue Home blogger

The workshop focuses on ways in which our knowledge – mostly in science, but other topics as well – can reach an audience  of people who may not be familiar with our subject matter. How do you get those people who don’t already know  what you’re talking about?

“Blogging is like a sea voyage: A record of your exploration, your thinking passage.”

Blogs are “imperfect vessels … a constant sea trial. … in the end a blog allows you to go places you really can’t get to any other way.” Blogging allows the writer to:

  • gain inspiration
  • frame your own ideas
  • extend the reach of your communication.

Examples :

Some workshop participants express perplexity at the notion of non-experts blogging about science. Whitty points out that blogs can be a dialogue between scientists and nonscientists. Others note that scientists only rarely address the public directly, without some sort of mediator (and if a scientist blogs in the same “voice” s/he uses in peer-reviewed journals, they’re going to fail to connect with the average reader.)

Time: If you’re already spending a lot of time online, reading and following “rabbitholes” – then you’re already doing what  you need to do to blog. Now write about it. It’s part of the blurring of  lines about what’s work and what isn’t work.

You can use a blog to expound a point of view or broadcast a message. You can essentially embed some version of  that message into every post – this anchor of a central premise. (The question is: How do you express the central theme or premise? A tag line? An “about” page? Do you want to bury it?)

If you’re trying to reach people outside your own field, you need to remember that they’re coming here for entertainment. They aren’t experts.  You need to find a hook that will make them want to keep reading (and hopefully subscribe).

Key points:

Think about what you want to call your blog. It’s part of your identity. (Changing the name later may make it mismatch the URL; better to migrate to a new Web address and leave a redirecting link in the old one.)

Reach out to readers beyond your existing audience/circle/sphere of interest. Give some thought about how you’re going to attract those readers who might be interested in your subject matter or your work.

(Break time)

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