Welcome SciAm Blogs


From the chemistry community.
“Who’s that,” you say.
*C H E M I S T R Y

July 07, 2011

Scientific American has announced the make-up of their new blogging network. Their announcement set off waves of congratulations through the blogosphere yesterday. This collection of wonderful writers, put together by Bora Zivkovic will certainly rival some of the other, major, broadly-focused blogging networks (Wired Science, Discover Blogs, Scientopia, Guardian Science Blogs, PLoS Blogs, ScienceBlogs, and others).

While the excitement over this new network is justified (I already read many of the contributors blogs), I must say that I am disappointed at the very minimal number of chemists contributing to the site. Of the 35 independent contributors, only 3 have any ties to the world of chemistry. And, it is safe to say that chemistry certainly won’t be a primary focus of any of these three sites. Cassie Rodenberg, a former chemist whose blog will likely (my presumption) have the largest chemistry slant, will be writing on the chemistry, neurology, psychology and sociology of addiction. Michelle Clement has a masters in organismal biology and currently works as a technical editor for the American Chemical Society. Her blog, Crude Matter, will mostly cover all the “stuff”, i.e. solids/liquids/gasses that animals, via their bodily functions, produce. Finally, Janet Stemwedel, who holds PhDs in both chemistry and philosophy, will mainly cover the philosophical, ethical and sociological ramifications of doing science. Aside from these instances, some of the other bloggers are molecular biologists or have topics that may require them to discuss specific chemicals, proteins, DNA and their interactions on a molecular level. Still, I don’t see many voices here who are willing to talk about the art of chemistry in a way that is fitting for this wonderful discipline.

Sour Grapes

After the Scientific American Blogs announcement, David Kroll, using his CENblog – Terra Sigillata, published his congratulations and thoughts on how this new blogging network might affect readership of the blogging network at Chemical and Engineering News (cenblog.org). His thesis is that the new network wouldn’t reduce the readership of CENblogs because, while CENblogs is geared towards an audience made up of chemists, the Scientific American network wouldn’t be delving very deeply into the world of chemistry. Though David may be right in this respect, I had a very different concern:

Why are there no chemistry-focused blogs on the new Scientific American network? Chemistry as a whole would certainly benefit from having more voices in the “popular science” discussion. Why is it that chemistry gets short-changed when so many non-scientists enjoy reading about biology, physics, psychology, anthropology and sociology? Why doesn’t Scientific American have any chemistry-themed blogs on its roster?

Eventually (actually, it was surprisingly quickly), Bora partly answered my question in the comment thread on David’s post:

I did struggle about it. People with chemistry background whose blogs I like (and think they fit in my network vision) tend not to blog about chemistry much. Or are taken by other networks, or unwilling to join one. But majority of chemistry bloggers write for each other, very inside baseball I cannot understand, thus not really fitting my vision (or SciAm focus on broad audiences).

But with two bloggers with background, and one with foreground (plus some of our editors), I hope we can cover chemistry sufficiently, at least for the time being. If a fantastic new chemistry bloggers emerges, please let me know…

I understand that some of the chemistry-themed bloggers that Bora approached might not want to join the Scientific American network. And I’m certainly not going to argue with his ability to know how to put a successful blogging network together. And I have no business questioning his vision of the types of bloggers who make up a good network. (The man certainly knows his stuff.) However, I still think that Scientific American is failing themselves and their readership by not having any chemistry-themed blogs on their site. If chemistry is as important as we (speaking for chemists here) know it to be, why is there this “barrier” for chemistry in popular blogging?

Bora gives some hints for why this “barrier” might exist for him (from his earlier comment):
“People with chemistry background whose blogs I like (and think they fit in my network vision) tend not to blog about chemistry much.”

These probably include the bloggers whom he has added to the Scientific American network. I wouldn’t claim to understand what his vision for a successful network is and certainly won’t argue his ability to put one together. But I might presume from this statement that there aren’t many chemistry-themed blogs that he enjoys reading.

“Or are taken by other networks or unwilling to join one.”

There are very successful and popular chemistry blogs out there right now. Of course, Derek Lowe’s In the Pipeline certainly has the largest readership of any chemistry-themed blog, and Derek is probably doing just fine in the Corante network. David Kroll has had great success writing (previously) at Scienceblogs and currently at PLoS and CENblogs. And, again, I would imagine he’s pretty happy where he is. Of course I also need to mention the wonderful author/journalist/professor, Deborah Blum who blogs about poisons for PLoS. Presumably, these are chemistry’s top 3 bloggers who, from a both a writing and a traffic point of view, would be attractive to the network Bora is building. Outside of these three big-guns, the highest traffic folks (both sets of which are top notch!) are probably Paul at ChemBark and the Chemistry Blog crew. And of course I need to mention all of the other wonderful writers at CENblogs as well (Lauren Wolf, Lisa Jarvis, Carmen Drahl, Sarah Everts, Jyllian Kemsley, Glen Ernst, Christine Herman, and others). Most of the writing on that site isn’t ultimately as technically driven as it might seem on first glance. I think that there are lots of science blog readers who would enjoy perusing the blogging network of our trade magazine. Perhaps, though, the type of writing the Bora is envisioning is closer to that being done by Ash at The Curious Wavefunction who takes a very engaging and philosophical view of chemistry research or Sharon at icanhasscience who has done a marvelous job translating chemistry terms and unravelling the Brazillian Blowout hair-straightening scandal. If they weren’t in the cards, Bora could have asked Leigh who has an astounding way with words and whose turn-of-phrases always bring a smile to my face. Another fabulous choice would have been Ray Burks who has just educated all of us on the letter of the law as per the use of different chemical forms of cocaine. (Ray is also the head maven at the supremely hilarious The J.A.Y.F.K.) (Also … please forgive me if I don’t mention you, wonderful co-blogger, this is just an off-the-cuff list) (The next sentence was added after original posting. Had meant to put it in but forgot.) Another interesting choice would be Katherine Haxton whose “What am I” series really gets a person thinking about what is in the household products that they use. Again, I’m not sure what Bora was looking for or if he approached any of these people.

Bora goes on to say: “But majority of chemistry bloggers write for each other, very inside baseball I cannot understand, thus not really fitting my vision”

This is a valid argument … to a point. There are certainly some superb blogs that serve only the chemistry community. The most prominent of these is Chemjobber. And, of course there are several synthetic/technique-oriented blogs that most chemists would find to be most useful. But, I don’t think that the blogs I mentioned earlier are overly specialized. In fact, some specialization is OK, fascinating even. I don’t expect Christie Wilcox to take all of the biology out of her posts just because I’m not a biologist. And I don’t not read Kate Clancy because I don’t have any “lady-business” to attend to. I read them because I find their writing and their science interesting and because I want to learn more. As long as the science is described crisply and related in an interesting way, even chemistry can be entertaining. If Bora is saying that chemistry (as we have been presenting it to him) isn’t interesting, then we NEED to work on that. If Bora is saying he doesn’t want to know more of the details of chemistry, then we have a problem. (Bora’s enthusiasm for science is seemingly endless, and if HE doesn’t give two shakes about chemistry, then we’re all in trouble. Also, its a little unfair to him and certainly not accurate, but I’m projecting the interests of a very diverse set of audiences onto Bora and his comments.)

And, now seems a very ideal time to have another strong voice for chemistry placed in a prominent blogging network. As Carmen Drahl noted in her comments on David’s post:

There are lots of “big picture” chemistry issues that someone in the blogosphere could be writing about for SciAm– like how do we strike the right balance between incorporating nano-innovations into everything and making sure they’re safe, energy questions like building better batteries and the pros and cons of solar/wind/biofuel/what have you, even a voice of reason to explain what’s behind extreme coverage (from both extremes!) of things like bisphenol A or formaldehyde in hair straighteners.

And that only gets at part of it. I think that Scientific American is doing a disservice to their blogging readership by NOT having any chemistry focus. Each science, in their own way, explain our world in a unique way that the other sciences cannot. Neglecting a chemistry focus, precludes the type of complete coverage that I would expect from Scientific American. Also, it seems the current spate of “chemical-free” fun would precipitate the need for more prominent voices for chemistry.

Navel Gazing

I can complain all I want about chemists getting the short-shrift by the at-large science blogging community. But the real reason that our readerships aren’t as far-reaching as those of other disciplines is that we haven’t done a good enough job writing for non-chemists. I don’t precisely know why chemistry doesn’t fascinate more people? It certainly fascinates me. Perhaps hippos and monkeys are less abstract than water and polyurethane. Maybe supernovae and atom smashers are more awe-inspiring than 1,1′-Azobis(tetraazole) or palytoxin. I don’t know what the answer is to make chemistry more prominent with the non-scientist crowd. But, I do think that there are several things that chemists need to be pushing.

1) Keep at it. Chemists were pretty late to the blogging game. It takes time to build up a workable style and consistent readership. Derek Lowe has been able to amass a very large following. Part of that is due to his ability as a writer. Another part of that is due to the fact that he’s been blogging for so long. His prominence shows that there is an audience for on-line chemistry. You just have to cultivate it.

2) There need to be more chemists blogging (or generally more people blogging about chemistry). Prof-like Substance asked, the other day, what is keeping science blog readers from blogging about science. One of the comments noted that they didn’t think that they had much to add to the mix. In the case of chemistry, I would say that this sort of statement is inaccurate.

3) Opposing what Bora said about “inside baseball”, I don’t think that writers should shy away from technical/in depth writing about chemistry. I do, however think that chemistry bloggers should really work on making their “technical” writing more accessible. It is entirely possible to write about chemistry in an approachable way. But, there is a reason why many people don’t: It’s difficult. I personally feel that this is one of the biggest issues facing chemistry. How can we talk about the beauty of a reaction mechanism without a) making people gloss over with boredom or b) seeming overly simplistic to the chemists in our audience. Its not an easy task. But this is something that we, as chemists, really, really, REALLY need to figure out.

Napoleon Complex?

OK. So maybe I’m feeling like a sore loser because I think that chemistry got left out of the “party”. I still think that chemists need to put more effort into making their research accessible. A big part of that can and should come through the chemistry blogging community. I don’t know what the right answer is. But, if we keep searching we’ll eventually converge on one of the multiple eigenvalues to this Hamiltonian … erm too technical … find the right tone (of which I am sure there are several) that resonates with the science-blog reading non-chemists out there.

-mrh

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105 Responses to Welcome SciAm Blogs

  1. See Arr Oh says:

    SG – Fantastic post! I can’t help but agree with just about every tiny detail.

    As a (relatively new) writer who tries to bridge the gap between chemistry and reality, I can commiserate that many people think “God particles” and “arsenic life” are more relevant to their lives than, say, how much BPA is in their food, or how their prescription drugs are made. Chemists seem to be constantly staring down a long hallway, waiting for someone to come by and take interest.

    Maybe we should make sport of it: today, when you buy a paper or get coffee, try asking the person helping you if they’re familiar with E.J. Corey. Or Bob Grubbs. Maybe Roger Tsien? Worst case, you might get a funny look, but you might also be able to start a conversation.

  2. Michelle says:

    One nitpick: While I do find bodily excretions intensely interesting, I just want to point out that they won’t be the MAIN focus of my blog! Physiology as a whole is my focus. It’s just that physiology happens to involve a lot of gross and wonderful stuff. (It also involves a lot of biochemistry. My thesis research had a good amount of biochemistry involved, that I had to go outside of my program to learn. I’m not entirely lacking in a chemical background; it has just never been my main focus.)

  3. sciencegeist says:

    @See Arr Oh
    Love that idea. If for nothing else than the look on the person’s face!! :)

  4. DrRubidium says:

    Great post! I wonder if chemistry suffers from “bad PR”, unlike some other sciences fields which dominate the science blogosphere?

  5. Unstable Isotope says:

    Instead of waiting for someone to notice perhaps we should push more? I’m hoping this post will at least guilt SciAm into asking on the mentioned bloggers to join the site. I also disagree that Chemjobber is really inside baseball. Stuff about employment and how it’s changing in the industry is a subject of interest to everyone I would think.

  6. Unstable Isotope says:

    Perhaps on the PR front we need catchier names. Perhaps we can pursue the God Molecule or something.

  7. sciencegeist says:

    @Ray
    I think that (PR) is part of it. There’s a pending Nature Chemistry commentary by a certain someone I know that covers this topic.

    @Unstable
    I’ll agree with that point on CJ. It’s just that that website provides such a HUGE service to the chemistry community that I see it as being for chemists only.

  8. Neil says:

    The obvious answer is for Zora to come and read this and invite Matt to join the Sci Am Blog world!

  9. Neil says:

    Zora?? Christ.

    I obviously meant Bora.

    Unless I meant Zorro – you’re welcome to join him too.

  10. sciencegeist says:

    @Neil,
    That’s too kind of you
    … and oooh Zorro, I could wear a mask with my lab-coat!

  11. notmedchem says:

    All this sturm und drang is ridiculous. CHEMISTRY had it’s time from 1912 up to the 1970s. That was our day in the sun. What new products, new advances, and new materials have we really developed or discovered in the last 5-10 years? Thinks that affect the average person’s everyday life? We haven’t gotten Solar Cells right. We haven’t gotten batteries. Think about how Nylon changed the game. Chemistry gave usable alternatives to natural sources for everyday things. I love Transition Metal Couplings, I love Pentacenes and Poly3-hexylthiophene, but Guess What? Those molecules haven’t replaced alpha-Si. Chemistry is Triple Option football. A staple, consistent peformer. But it’s not the game changer that the Spread Offense or Zone Blitz is.

  12. Chemjobber says:

    “Chemistry is Triple Option football. A staple, consistent peformer. But it’s not the game changer that the Spread Offense or Zone Blitz is.”

    Oh, come on. We’re at least the 46 defense.

  13. sciencegeist says:

    @notmedchem
    You make a reasonable point. The game changers are slow-in-coming. But it think that it is a minor point.
    I don’t think that people read about science (and, in this argument, science blogs) because they are looking to learn about game-changers. People read them because they are interested in the natural world. Part of what chemistry has to offer is the ability to bring game changers. But I think that you would agree with me that there is sooo much more to chemistry than that.

  14. “How can we talk about the beauty of a reaction mechanism without a) making people gloss over with boredom or b) seeming overly simplistic to the chemists in our audience. Its not an easy task. But this is something that we, as chemists, really, really, REALLY need to figure out.”

    Yes, and we CAN do this by making chemistry relate-able, by interweaving it with other disciplines. My blog, and scientific love, is chemistry, but it will closely marry other facets of science to cultivate audience engagement and attention. Biology is the “sexier” science because, I think, people can more closely relate to a living amoeba than to an inorganic molecule. This being said, however, I don’t think anyone, and certainly not Bora, would earmark chemistry as uninteresting. It simply needs more fine-tuning and planning for a readership than other sciences to be user-friendly. To that end, I think we blogging chemists want to rise to the challenge, as I hope to as part of the SciAm crew.

  15. Aaron Rowe says:

    I’d point out that Cassie Rodenberg is on the SciAm bogs network and she is trained in chemistry, even if her blog will also cover drugs and addiction.

    To be fair to Bora, I think that he might not have had any submissions from chemistry bloggers during the period when he was planning the blog. I inquired about writing for him, but was too busy with my thesis defense to even prepare a guest post.

    If I was in Bora’s place, I’d be looking for a chemistry blogger who pumps out 4-5 made for the public chemistry posts per week. I’m not aware of any chemistry bloggers who are that prolific and aim their writing entirely at non-scientists.

  16. See Arr Oh says:

    @notmedchem: Well, if you push the window back a tad further, say, to 20 years back (good old 1991), I’d say life-impacting chemistry changes are: development of bench-stable catalysts for metathesis (drugs and polymers), organocatalysis (drugs and biomolecules), most of the GFP work (let’s look at cells do things!), and let’s not forget Viagra, Gleevec, or Lipitor. Toss in Green Chemistry for extra credit.

  17. sciencegeist says:

    @Aaron,
    I do talk about Cassie in one of the first paragraphs …

    As per necessities for chem-bloggers … I don’t know that any of the bloggers on SciAm are going to be writing 4 to 5 posts a week. In my opinion, that’s a bunk argument. I think, from my reading, Bora has necessitated that they post once a week. And, I think that the arguments that they aim entirely at non-scientists is bunk. I read other bloggers on the site, and they don’t currently write entirely for non-scientists. Nor should they. I tried to make that point in the post. I don’t think that chemists should either.

  18. KJHaxton says:

    Nice post, and very true for SciAm blogs. I’d gone through the list myself and noticed the absence of chemists (I only realised there was one when it was pointed out by someone – perhaps David Kroll?).
    Unfortunately the same arguement can be made for almost all blogging networks – scientopia, discover, naturenetwork, occamstypewriter: characterised by a distinct lack of chemistry relative to other subjects. But the same is true of Researchblogging.org – for all of Bora’s chemist to chemist closed-community blogging idea, there are very few blog posts on chemistry research papers submitted through that portal (despite the wealth of total synthesis blogs).

  19. Coturnix says:

    First, thank you for the shout out and the thoughtful post. I guess I am not at liberty to divulge how many of the bloggers you mentioned I like, and I wanted for the network, but could not get for a variety of reasons.

    One of the bloggers you mentioned was supposed to join, but had to duck out at the last moment for reasons I cannot disclose.

    There are other areas of science where the blogosphere was difficult – I have no real medblogger, but 3-4 people who touch on medicine from other angles. I wanted more than one earth-science blogger, but they are hard to get (on AGU or All-Geo – and I was NOT going to poach other networks unless bloggers approached me firs showing interest – or were just plain resistant to joining networks, etc.).

    I am certainly looking to filling such gaps in the future. And do not forget that Guest Blog is one of our most popular and visited blog – a kind of a who-is-who platform which I intend specifically to use to cover topics that the network has holes in. So, chemists, please e-mail me with your pitches for the Guest Blog, and who knows, perhaps a post or two there can get us all here excited enough to extend a more permanent invitaton.

  20. notmedchem says:

    @seearroh Chemistry is not/should not be just “drugs.” Frankly the science blogosphere is dominated by the drug people.

    My counterpoint is that the chemistry that the average person uses/understands are things like nylon, polystyrene, polyurethane. Lubricants, adhesives, water softeners, and paint.

    Non-sick people, which is most people, don’t interact with Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Merck or GSK.

    They interact with and would be “wowed” by the science behind the things of Valvoline, Dupont, GoodYear, Valspar, Chemtura, and Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing.

    Intellectually, I respect my medicinal and total synthesis colleagues, but the “how it’s made” factor doesn’t translate beyond 1st year grad students.

    What’s the Chemistry behind the Ford’s new biodegradable foam? The Chemistry behind OxiClean et. al. -biodegradable or not?

    I don’t know that any “Green” chemical process has reached the level of 200,000 tons/year. I wish I had better lit. access so I could comment more accurately.

    Remember the drug companies were mostly offshoots of chemical companies making Better Things for Better Living.

  21. sciencegeist says:

    @Bora,
    Thanks for stopping by my humble little abode here. We certainly do appreciate your candor. I am sure that you will hear from chemists in the future pitching ideas for the Guest Blog.

  22. sciencegeist says:

    @Bora,
    One more thought (should you have time to check in again).
    In your opinion, what is “too inside baseball” and what type of post gets the mix of chemistry & popular writing correct. As any communicator worth their salt, I’d like to know what gets the best sort of reaction from a non-chemist.

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  24. sciencegeist says:

    @Aaron
    Speaking of bloggers who do post everyday, I have seriously neglected to mention Magdalene Lum who is writing DAILY on chemistry and has just posted a rant requesting that we stop trying to make chemistry just about color and pop and explosion and “sexiness”. Its sexy enough already.’ Just write well without all of the hyperbole’ Check out her post.

  25. Coturnix says:

    Good question. I love blogging by David Kroll, Deborah Blum and Ashutosh Jogalekar (three very different approaches and styles) but could not get either one of them. Inside baseball – great blogs but not of much interests outside the chem community: Jean-Claude Bradley, Antony Williams, and even Derek (who I cannot get if I wanted to) often focuses on the industry view from within.

    Also, my feeling is that there will be more chemistry by Cassie than you expect, especially further down the line after a couple of months on the network.

    Finally, the network will, in a couple of weeks, be even more embedded inside the SciAm site as a whole, where our editors, freelancers and correspondents will cover topics that the network cannot. So SciAm as a whole, editorial+blogs, should be able to cover everything.

  26. sciencegeist says:

    A quick note … I just unearthed some comments (hiding in some strange corner of my site admin) from Cassie Rodenberg and Michelle Clement. Please do check them out!!

  27. sciencegeist says:

    “It simply needs more fine-tuning and planning for a readership than other sciences to be user-friendly”

    @Cassie, I think that this is one of the things that keeps more of us from writing. I am really looking forward to your posts to get an idea of how you synthesize your ideas!!

  28. sciencegeist says:

    @Bora,
    Thanks again. All of us are very excited to see the new Bora-ified SA!

  29. Matt,

    This is an excellent post posing questions that I think we (i.e., the blogosphere — bloggers, commenters, and lurkers) ought to be grappling with on a regular basis. Plus, having links to so many great chemistry blogs in one place makes it a must-bookmark.

    My own take is that the commenting on blogs makes us much more aware of writing for an audience than we sometime are in other formats. We start out imagining one kind of audience, and if people turn up to comment, after we’re done jumping up and down in glee, we sometimes discover that the actual audience takes the conversation in a slightly different direction than would have been appropriate for the readers we were imagining. Sometimes this ends up meaning we wallow in more technical details, but other times it means we try to explain those more accessibly, or step away from them altogether. Sometimes the focus drifts towards the job market or workplace experiences, other times to “why does the public have so little idea why this stuff matters?”

    Honestly, it’s too soon for me to say what *my* actual SciAm audience will be like, what they’ll want to read and what I’ll need to give them to keep them engaged in conversation with me, but I’m starting with the hunch that the SciAm blog will be more “general audience” than my blog that continues on at Scientopia (where I get plenty wonky and have trouble sometimes making my point in fewer than 2000 words). I definitely think the blogosphere has room for broad audiences and audiences of maybe a dozen who are more passionate about X than anyone else in the world.

    And, if I knew how to come at all close to balancing those different kinds of audiences, along with the variety of scientific disciplines about which people blog, in a single network, my name would be Bora.

  30. sciencegeist says:

    @Janet
    I’m very honored that you took the time to throw in your 2 cents here. I really enjoyed your comment and fully commiserate with you (as most of us bloggers likely feel this way). It will be really interesting to read the parallel blogs (like yours) at SA and in other places to see what you’re covering/how its covered/how people respond.
    Best of luck in this new endeavor!!

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  32. David Kroll says:

    Matt, thank you so much for such a thoughtful analysis and starting this discussion thread over at my blog.

    If a perception truly exists that *we* primarily talk amongst ourselves and not out to the general public then, yes, we need to do a better job. Your three plans of action are excellent.

    I would argue that those of us in chemistry and chemistry-heavy fields actually have it somewhat easier than our biology colleagues in reaching out to the public. People interact with chemistry everyday without even knowing it. I don’t think that we have to push electrons in blogposts to be considered RealChemistryBlogging.

    Your own posts on the chemistry of food are perfect examples. I tend to mix it up and write across a spectrum of very technical posts to humorous (I hope) and more light-hearted missives. Remember also that I’m not really a chemist but rather a pharmacologist who plays well with chemists (although my pseudonym-sake and father of American pharmacology, John Jacob Abel, founded the Journal of Biological Chemistry)

    I really like the idea of a periodic chemistry blog carnival. You already did a wonderful job awhile back on the chemistry jobs week of posts.

    I’d also like to build a blogroll of chembloggers because I’m certain that each of us know some who are not known to the general community.

    Again, thanks so much for your insights on this discussion. You tapped into an angle that I had not fully appreciated when I wrote my own post. I really appreciate your leadership on this aspect of our discipline.

  33. Paul says:

    Damn…this thread escaped my gaze when it was fresh. Just wanted to weigh in on a couple of points:

    1) From a selfish perspective, I like the “inside baseball” nature of most chemistry blogs. I don’t think I’d have the stomach to read multiple general chemistry blogs, but I imagine they’d have a wide audience and would serve a good purpose.

    2) I imagine most chem blogs are “inside baseball” because that’s what appeals to the authors. I think you pretty much have to blog for selfish reasons (personal interests) otherwise you’ll lose interest and burn out.

    3) Does anyone know how much these networks pay their bloggers? I can’t imagine it is enough to justify blogging about something you don’t want to blog about anyway.

    4) I second the nominations of Matt and Sharon to do gen chem blogs on a network. The only problem is that they’re both extraordinarily busy and I bet they wouldn’t want to commit to it. Also, they have their own functional sites anyway…so what would be the point?

  34. sciencegeist says:

    Hey Paul,
    Thanks for taking time from your busy schedule chronicling “The Days of our Sames-Sezen” or perhaps its “The Young and the Ethic-less” :)

    1) Yes, as chemists WE want to read and learn more about doing chemistry. We can’t possibly learn everything on our own and journal articles don’t say much about the art and finesse of doing a reaction. But, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t an audience out there for a generally-targeted chemistry blog. Also, as I mention in the post, I think that you can have your cake and eat it too, as long as you’re a good writer. I’m certainly not there yet, but it is my goal to try.

    2) We certainly do blog for personal interests. All of us. I happen to personally want to boost the exposure of chemistry. So, I try to do that. But, you’ll notice that the topics of my posts are usually things that I’m working on (cooking chemistry, nanoparticles – I have one of “those” projects now, chemistry communication). Really this current post and the #altchemicalfree post were up my alley because I’ve been thinking about that stuff so much anyway.

    3) No idea what they pay ..

    4) Point well taken about having your own functional site. This is something that Erika and I were chatting about last night. The one thing that a “network” can give you is broader reach. And, if you’re writing for a broader audience, that’s the point. Judging by the comments and commenters on this site, my readership is mostly chemists followed by scientists, followed by my parents ;) Its likely time to do a poll to find out what my current readership is.

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  37. Grant Jacobs says:

    Among ‘the others’ would be sciblogs.co.nz; there’s around 30 of us blogging there – including a chemist. Michael doesn’t write on chemistry that often, but does do chemistry articles from time to time. HIs latest generally in that direction would be ‘Enthusiastic young chemists’: http://sciblogs.co.nz/molecular-matters/2011/07/07/enthusiastic-young-chemists/

    I am in the midst of writing a related post, and discovered your post. I had related (but different) thoughts to what David (Kroll) expressed on reading Bora’s discussion of selecting bloggers for the new SciAm network. I’ll continue my thoughts on my blog as I’ve already written quite a bit and don’t want to chew up time doubling up here. I’m not entirely sure I’ll publish it as time seems to have passed an meta-blogging is a bit yucky/anal in some respects. Suffice to say that bioinformatics has a similar story. (I would properly call myself a computational biologist – it’s a long story.) Bioinformatics is clearly important – bioinformatics / computational biology is vital to a lot, if not most, modern genetics and molecular biology. Despite that most people writing about it on-line are addressing their peers.

    Website suggestion: put a dark border around the name, mail, website and comment boxes! You can’t see them at all… :-)

  38. I’m not sure late to the game is all of it. I’ve been blogging about chemistry for the non-chemist for seven years…and no invitations forthcoming to join any of the major blog networks. It may be that what I write is pretty awful. (But several wonderful invitations to write for print have grown out of the blog…which suggests not so.) I’m guessing it’s because the more I write for print, the less I blog – so posting is not regular enough.

    Are chemists busier people?

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  41. seo says:

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