Science Blogging Conference – not just science and not just blogging

Science Blog logoSome 200 science bloggers, scientists, journalists, educators and readers met on Saturday, January 19, 2008 for the second Science Blogging Conference organized by Bora Zivkovic and Anton Zuiker and held at Sigma Xi in Research Triangle Park, NC. Others participated online via streaming video (many courtesy of Wayne Sutton) and chat rooms.

The format was an “unconference”, where discussion, dissent and debate is crucial for each session; some sessions achieved this. As most of the attendees were bloggers, the sessions have been recorded in blogs, photos, video and audio. Below are descriptions of sessions with links to selected summaries.


  • Open Science: how the Web is changing the way science is done, written and published. Discussion led by Dr. Hemai Parthasarathy (former editor at Nature and PLoS), described in the INFO project blog. Dr. Parthasarathy and the attendees discussed the hopes and concerns about the changing world of science publication; including capturing peer-review concerns along with a publication and creating online, post-publication peer review, the problems of moderating crackpots, and transmitting implicit knowledge about a field. Business models for journals, journal prestige, value added by journals and publishing raw data where also important topics. What is the effect of NIH’s mandate to make results openly available within 1 year of publication? How to balance journal-dictated embargo with the use of science for science education (one great example was Robert Sapolsky’s report of cultural transmission in baboons published in PLoS Biology accompanied by descriptions and commentary in the New York Times. This was a great session!
  • Science blogging ethics Discussion lead byJanet Stemwedel, join in at the science blogging ethics wiki
  • Science Journalism: moving from print to the Web (and vice versa). Discussion led by Adnaan Wasey, see a summary and participate at a science journalism wiki.
  • Real-time blogging in the marine sciences. Discussion led by Kevin Zelnio, Karen James, Peter Etnoyer and Jason Robertshaw and Rick MacPherson, who has posted a good summary of the session (with his impressions of the conference).
  • Overcoming obstacles to Open Science in the developing world. Discussion led by Vedran Vucic and Tatjana Jovanovic, described by Mad Biologist.
  • Gender and Race in science: online and offline. Discussion led by Suzanne Franks and Karen Ventii. Hallway rumors had this session as excellent, it’s available on video.
  • Teaching Science: using online tools in the science classroom. Discussed by David Warlick. An outline is available, but this session was not as useful as I had hoped.
  • Blogging about the Social Sciences and Humanities. Discussed by Martin Rundkvist. Hallway rumors praised this session, particularly the links assembled. Video is available.
  • Student blogging panel—from K to PhD. Discussion leaders were Shelley Batts, Sarah Wallace, Anne-Marie Hodge, Anna Kushnir and Brian Switek. Jonathan Tarr described this session.
  • Public Scientific Data Discussed by Xan Gregg and Jean-Claude Bradley. An outline is available. Jean-Claude Bradley’s open science efforts, where his lab uses an open wiki to keep their lab notebooks and all data is immediately, publicly available, has resulted in ongoing, productive collaborations with other labs doing complementary research.
  • Blogging public health/medicine. Discussion led by Tara Smith and Becky Oskin, and described by Mad Biologist.
  • Building interactivity into your blog: more than just comments and trackbacks. Discussion leader is Dave Munger. He’s posted helpful links.
  • Changing Minds through Science Communication: a panel on Framing Science. Discussion leaders include Chris Mooney , Jennifer Jacquet and Sheril Kirshenbaum. Both bloggers and mainstream media reporters passionately discussed how science is perceived and how the general public gets news. Both Science Debate 2008 and Britney Spears figured prominently. (A pithy explanation of why the general public does not love science is in the current Wired magazine.) Video available.
  • Adventures in Science Blogging Jennifer Ouellette writes an entertaining blog appropriately titled Cocktail Party Physics. She described why she blogs and how it complements her other writing and allows her to explore her passion for physics. Video is available.

The sessions were great; additional benefits from the conference included:

Overall, this conference is filled with ideas and energy, anscience bloggersd smart, congenial, imaginative people talking about everything – not just science or blogging. Watch for it next year and participate! The sponsors illustrate that traditional journals and journalists (both print and TV) see bloggers as productive collaborators communicating in interesting things. To taste some science blogging excitement, check out my favorite website, science blogs which features some of the participants (sciblings pictured).