In my opinion, blogging is an excellent new form of communication, that is here to stay. However, blogging is only one new form of communication, and it will certainly not replace all other forms of communication. But blogging is a new information channel, and it would be as stupid to dismiss this new communication channel today, as it would have been to be against the television in the 1940-ties or the phones about 100 years ago. How could one be against new ways of communicating science and other important issues?
Today, we have several interesting research blogs in the Ecology Building apart from this one: Anders Hedenströms "Animal Flight Lab" and the "CAnMove"-blog being two excellent examples of such interesting research group blogs. There is now also a general agreement among many scientists that "Public Outreach" (which blogs are one example of), can actually be beneficial to you also in your scientific career. Is anybody really surprised?
The negative views against blogging among some of my colleagues reminds me about the scepticism against "Open Access" (OA)-publishing a few years earlier, and the scepticism against PLoS ONE in particular. I am quite amazed about how extremely conservative many scientists are against new things: blogs, social media like Facebook or OA-publishing. These new means of communication are here to stay - and it does actually not matter if this-or-that less known second-grade researcher at Lund University says about these phenomena, as long as they work and accepted by the broader international scientific community.
It is after all the international arena that is important - not what less-informed self-proclaimed "experts" claim at stupid coffee-room discussions in the Ecology Building. It is therefore with great satisfaction I can tell the readers of this blog that PLoS ONE was recently awarded a prestigious price for the most innovative scientific journal in 2009. This award was provided by the very prestigious organisation ALPSP ("The Association for learned and Professional Society Publishers"). The motivation for providing this award to PLoS ONE was partly:
"in recognition of a truly innovative approach to any aspect of publication. Applications are judged on their originality and innovative qualities, together with their utility, benefit to their community and long term prospects. Any area of innovation is eligible – it could, for example, be a novel type of print or online publication or service, or even a radically different approach to a marketing campaign."
Part of PLoS ONE's and other PLoS-journals success is the approach to provide information about number of downloads and citation indices in conjunction with each published article, something that will hopefully make it even more attractive to publish in PLoS, as it is clearly an "added value" to have access to this information directly from the article -rather than having to go through a data-base like ISI (for instance). Inlinks, links to blogs and other articles citing the focal article will all contribute to increase the reader traffic to PLoS-articles in the near future. For instance, here you can see such information statistics for an article in PLoS ONE that Tom Gosden and I published two years ago, we have now more than 10 citations and almost 2000 downloads! Not bad, in my opinion.
But also scientific blogging is a growing activity, that becomes more and more important, both for journalists and for scientists like us who would like to communicate our results to the laymen and amongst ourselves. Now you actually have a nice opportunity to write a blogpost about evolution and win a price. You can read more about this competition here and on the blog "A blog around the clock".
Basically, if you write a blogpost about some evolution-theme, you could send in that blogpost (i. e. the URL) and participate in the competition of the best blogpost. The award to the winner is quite nice: you will get 750 US$ to cover the costs of attending a science communication conference: "Science Online 2010", that will take place in North Carolina in early 2010. The competition is funded by the "National Evolutionary Synthesis Centre" (NESCENT), a prestigious scientific centre in North Carolina, funded by the National Science Foundation.
This particular blog is a group blog, and not my private one, meaning that anyone one of us could send in a blogpost and participate in this competition, if you wish. Or we could nominate on of us, if we think that there is some particular blogpost that you found especially interesting. I would encourage you all to seriously consider this possibility, even though you should feel no pressure to participate if you do not wish to. However, I hope the general message goes through: blogging can be useful. Also for scientists interested in evolutionary biology. Don't listen to the nay-sayers! They are just loosers and yesterday's scientists. Just as they were wrong on OA-publishing and PLoS ONE, they will be wrong on blogs and Facebook. With historical hindsight, they will be laughed upon.