On the theme of Martin’s meme

Joining in with Martin Fenner’s suggestion

1. What is your blog about?

I sometimes wonder. In brief, I take exception to… oh, perhaps that’s too strong; I get irritated by… anti-/pseudo-scientific attitudes that seem to carry undue clout in all spheres, reflecting, I feel, a worrying ignorance of the importance of science in society, concomitant with its general dumbing down, which takers of anti-/pseudo-scientific stances readily exploit through either the rejection or misappropriation of science. However, I do take exception to having what I do described as immoral. I might take this a bit too seriously sometimes, but I feel it is incumbent upon scientists to counter such attitudes, and NN allows me to feel I’m doing something about it (or allows me to practice doing something about it). Alternatively, to keep the thing going, I go meandering, trying to make connections here and there. Whether or not I succeed is for the reader to decide.

2. What will you never write about?

Err… Cars. The hurdy-gurdy. The sixteenth dimension.

3. Have you ever considered leaving science?

Oh yes! Every other day. I’ve been half-intending to for a few years now. Well, not entirely – I mean leaving laboratory research. I took a year’s study leave a while back: at the outset I determined not to return; but towards the end I knew I was gravitating back. A number of factors figured, including the need to get paid again after a year out supporting myself. (I changed careers in my early thirties, which was difficult enough; it would be even harder now.) Plus it felt in part like unfinished business. But research always is, isn’t it?

4. What would you do instead?

I’ve a few ideas as to what I’d like to do. These, unfortunately, are mostly incompatible with what I need to do (like paying my mortgage), and my gradual reluctant acceptance that some things are, er, not so easy as they would once have been.

5. What do you think will science blogging be like in 5 years?

Don’t know if I can offer much here. I’m barely up to speed with where it’s at now. Although I wonder, as I’m completing a post-fellowship report, that all grant holders will be required to provide regular updates on their research on funding body’s platforms, which could serve as public interfaces, such that it will be compulsory that grant awardees make themselves available to convey information in a publicly accessible fashion, other than the summaries provided for funder’s Lay Committees in applications and reports. But for all I know, some funder’s may be already insisting on this.

6. What is the most extraordinary thing that happened to you because of blogging?

When it has led to nice, off the record E-mail exchanges. I’ve been touched by these – but they will remain off the record.

7. Did you write a blog post or comment you later regretted?

Yes – but not the obvious. I don’t much like reading posts that blatantly denigrate the writer’s colleagues. However, I do like to write and read stuff that discusses the sociology of science – but that inevitably means discussing colleagues and friends, which can be a bit risky, even though they can serve to describe the scientific enterprise in microcosm. I’ve recently post-edited a couple of pieces, because what apparently seemed an okay joke or issue communicated in person, subsequently became problematic when reinterpreted for others to read, even though identities were protected and I tried to ensure I came across as respectful. Some things don’t translate very well, although I’ll readily put that down to deficient communication skills on my part. In future, I’ll consider seeking prior discussion and permission.

8. When did you first learn about science blogging?

About a year and a half ago through Matt Brown’s excellent NN pitch. I thought, ‘Yeah, I’ll have a go at that.’

9. What do your colleagues at work say about your blogging?

As far as I’m aware, not that many know. If people find their way to it, fine, but I don’t advertise it. One colleague has been very supportive; another is also, but in a more forthright critical way. If I’ve entertained them, then that’s a reward. However, it has also been a source of displeasure (see # 7). Once or twice I’ve had it commented that they can’t see the point. I counter that it’s no more pointless than any other hobby or pastime.

10. How the heck do you have time to blog and do research at the same time?

I frequently don’t. I’m staggered by the output of some people on here.

11. Extra credit: are you able to write an entry to your blog that takes the form of a poem about your research?

No; let me work on my prose first.

3 responses to “On the theme of Martin’s meme

  1. Lee: 10 is all about priorities. When you do post, you find an audience, even if you don’t always get comments. We do understand.
    What in your work can be construed as immoral?

  2. On # 10: Er, suppose so. I make no complaint – I’m genuinely impressed by the blogging frequencies some maintain, regardless of priorities. I confess to occasionally blogging for displacement.
    On work: there are associated issues that have a degree of overlap with your own.

  3. True, I had forgotten. Sorry :-) I haven’t yet been accused of doing immoral work, though. Not directly.


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