Blogs are dying; long live blogs

Happy Boxing Day!  Which is also the Feast of Stephen, and although that’s obviously named for a much earlier Stephen, I do approve of feasts.

Anyway.

You hear a lot about how blogs are dying.  You’ve heard that for many years, actually, and to some extent it’s probably true: I gather that there are fewer “big” blogs than there were a decade ago, and the ones that are left worry about declining readership.  Among other things, some of the discourse that happened on blogs now happens, with obviously reduced quality, on Twitter* and other shorter-form social media.

You will not be surprised to hear me argue that there is still tremendous value in blogs – both in writing them and in reading them.  Scientist Sees Squirrel isn’t going anywhere, and if you’re reading this, you probably read some other blogs too. Today I want to do two things.  First, I’ll point to a few blogs that you might not be reading – and that I think are worth your attention.  Second, I’ll ask you to use the Replies to do the same.

So, it’s shout-out time.  I’m not, here, going to list the blogs you’re probably already reading – Dynamic Ecology, Small Pond Science, Ecology is Not a Dirty Word and the like don’t need my help to find audience.**  But how about a few that I suspect don’t have as high profile?  Some are quite active, some less so (but I can hope for revival, can’t I?)  There’s no particular order to how I list these, and no particular agenda or well-defined set of criteria behind my choices; just some links you might like.

  • X Lines about Y Legs. Short poems about nature, often entomology, by Julia Mlynarek, an entomologist with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (and a former postdoc in my lab).  Just a few seconds can plant an image in your mind.
  • Ambika Kamath. Ambika Kamath’s self-titled blog covers behavioural ecology, mental health, structures in academia, and a lot more. Every post is thoughtful and creative.
  • Data Colada. This isn’t an obscure blog by any means, but I think it’s read by scientists less than it should be. Posts about statistics and the use of evidence by Uri Simonsohn, Leif Nelson and Joe Simmons, from perspectives in social sciences and business and a generous dose of psychology (examples drawn from the field, I mean).
  • Based on True Science. A brand new blog from Geoffrey Osgood, taking scientific papers and morphing them into short stories. This is a wonderfully creative idea, so I can’t wait to see how it plays out.
  • Awkward Botany. Lots of fun stories about plants, by Daniel Murphy – and a good range, from SciComm to SciArt to more meditative pieces.

And now for the best part (at least, for me): what blogs do you think others might not know about, and might want to read?  I’m hoping I’ll pick up a couple of new favourites from you.  Use the Replies!

© Stephen Heard  December 26, 2019

Image: Good King Wenceslas biscuit tin, © Gryffindor CC BY-SA 3.0 via wikimedia.org.  The connection? Good King Wencelas went out / On the feast of Stephen.


*^Twitter is great for many things; I’ve found it to be a wonderful source of answers, collaborators, colleagues and friends.  It is, however, an absolutely terrible place to tackle any question that has complexity or nuance to it, or for any discussion important enough that what people say ought to still be available weeks, months, or years later.  None of which seems to dissuade people from the attempt.

**^Rapid Ecology may be in a different situation, needing not so much more readers as more contributors.  If you’re looking to experiment with blogging, or would like to post a one-off without committing to a platform and a long-term project, Rapid Ecology is quite likely for you!

9 thoughts on “Blogs are dying; long live blogs

  1. Bethann Garramon Merkle

    Oooooh, this is a fun game. 🙂 Here are a few, off the top of my head:
    1. I really like Science Borealis (which you’ve mentioned previously, but not on this list). And, I’ll concede that it’s not just a blog, but it is a blog. 🙂 https://scienceborealis.ca/
    2. The Thesis Whisperer is great on many fronts: https://thesiswhisperer.com/
    3. Sesquiotica is a hoot, if you like word play, esoteric words, etc.: https://sesquiotic.com/about/
    4. http://buzzhootroar.com/ – illustrated, pithy scicomm pieces that are often comic and always witty.
    5. https://www.birdandmoon.com/ – wonderful science comics
    6. The Last Word On Nothing – examples of great posts: https://www.lastwordonnothing.com/2013/11/13/are-academics-a-public-resource/ and https://www.lastwordonnothing.com/2013/11/12/toe-fungus-and-why-no-one-loves-a-science-writer/
    7. John Muir Laws (“the West Coast Sibley”) has a phenomenal “how to draw/field sketch ______” blog: https://johnmuirlaws.com/blog/.

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      1. Bethann Garramon Merkle

        Agreed – I can understand why The Thesis Whisperer is scaling back, but having only recently discovered it, I have mixed feelings. The archives will keep me plenty busy, though! As will those on Sesquitoica! 🙂

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  2. Manu Saunders

    Here are a few from my reading list:
    Environmental history via Rachel Carson Centre https://seeingthewoods.org/
    Linguistics via Stan Carey https://stancarey.wordpress.com/
    Botany and cooking https://botanistinthekitchen.blog/
    Enviro sustainability, policy, law with Australian focus https://sustainabilitybites.home.blog/
    Great insect stories via Harper Adams Entomology Masters student blog https://aphidsrus.wordpress.com/
    Some Australian natural history: https://www.paperbarkwriter.com/writing/ and https://focusonfauna.com/

    I would love to fiollow more history of science blogs if anyone has any tips!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  3. jeffollerton

    Interesting that some people are experiencing a decline in views of their blog; I thought that I was, or at least that it was leveling off, but that turned out to be a blip and it seems to be rising exponentially. I need to write a post about that in the New Year. Any hoo, some blogs I really like:

    Geoff Parks has amazing photos and information about from birds and the environment of central Victoria: https://geoffpark.wordpress.com/

    This is for Manu – early history of science: https://thonyc.wordpress.com/

    The best debunker of climate change denial IMO: https://tamino.wordpress.com/

    Simon Leather on entomology and ecology more broadly: https://simonleather.wordpress.com/

    Miles King on UK politics and nature: https://anewnatureblog.com/

    Philip Moriarty on a range of topics including physics, history of science, working in HE, etc: https://muircheartblog.wordpress.com/

    Alex Bond on ecology in the lab and in the field: https://labandfield.wordpress.com/

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  4. Pingback: Friday links: how to make a billion dollars from student evaluations, faculty vs. baby Yoda, and more | Dynamic Ecology

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