2010, the year of the science blog

January 4, 2011

ok, not really. But I think we’re going to look back and say that this is when scientific blogging started being mainstream activities. I view it through the blog collective lens.

Prior to 2010, Nature Network and Scienceblogs sucked up all the air. Which was cool and all but it didn’t leave a lot of room. Or there wasn’t enough of a market, so to speak.

So what happened?

Discover magazine got serious by acquiring Ed Yong and Razib and by so doing created a third-way of collectivized scienceblogging.

Then, Scienceblogs and Nature Network had major (the former) and minor (the latter) assplosions. Talent departed with various levels of spleen being vented and rancor being…rancored.

This led, inevitably perhaps, to the formation of Scientopia and Occam’s Typewriter from a core group of emigres from each of the large collectives, respectively.

In parallel Wired magazine tried the Discover Magazine blogs model and Scientific American at least laid the groundwork (i.e., hired Bora Zivkovic as community manager) for what I suspect will be another instance of the Discover Magazine blog collective model.

PLoS blogs launched…unclear to me under which model but I bet it will eventually look more like the Sb / Nat Net / Scientopia / Occam’s Typewriter type of model.

In the breech, the wily upstart LabSpaces pulled a fast move by emulating the path buried in the origins of Scienceblogs.com. They pulled together a healthy number of existing privateer blogs, created a great deal of enthusiasm and really went to town. I’d say they easily won the enthusiasm and energy title for new blog collectives.

Along with this, the model of blog collective organized by scientific topic expanded as well. The all-geo site is currently just Highly Allochthonous but going by the Twitter energy of recent geoscience meetings I see a lot of upside future. Perhaps more interestingly, The Gam joined oldtimer Deep Sea News as a second Oceans blog collective. Strong work.

So science blogging continues to grow and, more importantly, become more formalized into go-to collectives and organizations. Some commercial, some not.

I can’t help but think this is related, perhaps not causally but as a reflection of the same trends, to a growth in recognition of

The Society for Neuroscience continues to tip toe but the Twitter chatter at the 2010 meeting was much more substantial. Even the tiny (and, let us admit, conservative) College on Problems of Drug Dependence started a blog.

I see many more local Universities and research institutes using Twitter and Facebook…and even establishing blogs as part of their PR mission. PR as institutions, sure, but part of that is to brag about the science their investigators are conducting and publishing.

Last but not least, Jeremy Berg, Director of the National Institute of General Medical Sciences used blogging with skill and enthusiasm to advance his agenda.

6 Responses to “2010, the year of the science blog”

  1. drdrA Says:

    I like the run-down….a couple a notes…

    1. I predict that coining the word ‘assplosions’ will make you just as famous as ‘mansplainer’ made Zuska. The imagery is so rich.

    2. NIAID has followed Berg’s lead and started a blog as well. Rudimentary yet, but they seem willing to expand.

    3. Microbiologists want to blog more, tweet more, and generally become more hip to the online universe. (I know that by using the word hip I’ve just given away my age – my daughter would be so embarrassed.)


  2. I think this sentence is missing a second half?

    I can’t help but think this is related, perhaps not causally but as a reflection of the same trends, to a growth in recognition of


  3. bikemonkey Says:

    What clued you in, lab partner?


  4. DrugMonkey Says:

    DrdrA- I didn’t invent the term assplosion and it is certainly in general use in bloggy-land.

    JGG- oh I suspect I was planning on saying something about a growing use of the technology in traditional academic entities. Institutions, societies and funding agencies.


  5. […] 2010, the year of the science blog […]


  6. drugmonkey Says:

    NIAID are idiots, btw, drdrA. They are powered by WP, looks like what with the default comment fields and all. PP and I both commented and the guy asked if it was ok to delete our URLs. ok, fine, whatevs. His excuse was some shit about how they didn’t want to be “promoting” other sites.

    Then they pulled PPs comment (which was entirely laudatory, btw, not a sign of anything objectionable in it). A few days later, I’ve been changed to “Anonymous” (although he didn’t ask this time).


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