August 2, 2010
crossposting from DrugMonkey on Scienceblogs.com….
A brand new science blogging collective has launched itself today. I encourage you to stroll on over to http://scientopia.org/blogs and take a look-see. You may even want to save a bookmark or two.
The vision statement reads as follows:
Scientopia is a collective of people who write about science because they love to do so. It is a community, held together by mutual respect and operated by consensus, in which people can write, educate, discuss, and learn about science and the process of doing science. In this we explore the interplay between scientific issues and other parts of our lives with the shared goal of making science more accessible.
As a community, we strive to be welcoming of anyone with an interest in science and its place in our world, regardless of any feature, whether extrinsic or intrinsic, which may act or have historically acted as a barrier to full participation in science or discourses about science.
Hippie statements aside, I think you will find that Scientopia has some interesting voices lined up for your reading pleasure. So go take a look.
July 25, 2010
Rob Knop has a series of observations up on Galactic Interactions that struck a chord with me. He’s talking about Linden Labs and the Second Life dealio, about which I know next to nothing. I barely understand all that stuff. However, he starts with this observation:
I think often the way to kill a business is to over-monetize it. I remember the 1990’s, and Web search engines. The pattern was repeated over and over again. There’d be one that was the best. They’d realize they were the best, and they’d either get sold or they’d try to monetize their business. The page would go from being relatively clean, to being a cluttered mess of ads… and the search results, being increasingly paid, would become less and less useful. So we’d all move on to another engine. That ended with Google, who had the vision not to try too soon to over-monetize their search, and who recognized when they did monetize it that they had to do it in a way that didn’t completely undermine what brought people there in the first place.
Emphasis added. Now I’m not so much afeeerd of monetizing but it appears an axiomatic truth to me that you cannot kill the function that brings people to your online site or business. That is really the key to Google’s world dominance as a search engine. I had the exact same frustration expressed by Rob with Web engines in the 1990s and I bet most of you did too. It still boggles my mind that you go to the root Google page and you get what you need- a search box and an entry button. Sans extra crap.
It really is sad that Twitter is trying as hard as they can to miss the point of Google. but I digress..
Rob has another observation about Linden that sounds hauntingly familiar:
Alas, the company as a whole didn’t realize this. What they should have been focusing on was promoting virtual worlds. Instead, they… well, to be honest, I’m not really sure what they were focusing on, but they didn’t direct substantial effort towards promoting virtual worlds in general.
I return to the Google example. I mean sure, the Internet was going to explode anyway. I get this. But by making the internet useful for people (some of us do remember the Web before search engines were so ubiquitous, fast and so damn good, you know), all people-even our grandparents- Google made themselves indispensible. This is what Rob is getting at I think. If you want to be an online entity that relies on low fractional payment from a vast audience, you need to concentrate your efforts on the audience. And when an audience doesn’t exactly exist yet, you are not trying to steal marketshare, you are trying to build up the whole dang market.
This is where I personally think that ScienceBlogs.com has gone a bit astray and where I routinely criticize the approach of Nature Networks. I look at it this way. I’ve been blogging for over three years now and experienced both negligible-audience privateer blogging and the heady heights of the Pharyngula driven Scienceblogs.com traffic. Comments and personal communications to PhysioProf and I suggest that our focus on academic careerism for grant funded scientists is of interest even beyond biomedical disciplines. Our traffic is quite pleasing and the commentariat of decent size. But here’s the thing. If I look at the IP numbers coming in from the domains of easily identified research Universities and research institutes we still only draw one or maybe 5 repeat viewers from a given institute. That spells one heck of a lot of untapped audience to me.
The funny thing is that Sb says all the right things about engaging the broader audience. And Nature Publishing Group routinely tries to tell all scientists reading their flagship publications (and this is a good fraction of all scientists) to go online, to comment on papers and, gasp, to blog.
Their hearts are in the right place but their execution could use some re-thinking.
April 5, 2009
January 16, 2008
The NIH Director, Elias Zerhouni has a newsletter out which advances several arguments for the importance of science education. YHN may be occasionally guilty of taking the Great Zerhouni to task for some of his choices and directions as director and some of you may have a critical cant on anything he has to say. Well, this had some gems. If nothing else, it is a good rehearsal for your own thoughts on the importance of science. Read the rest of this entry »