Wednesday, October 5, 2011

A Report on the State of the Geoblogosphere...

is discussed on the German blog Geonetzwerk which presents;

..."data from an online survey with 78 participants and from analysis of more than 200 Earth science blogs.

Our survey shows that a majority of persons writing geoblogs are young, male, and academic. Most live in the USA and Europe. Collectively, their main motivation to blog is to share knowledge and to popularize the geosciences. Blogging is also seen as an opportunity to improve the authors’ writing skills, perform outreach, establish new contacts, and positively influence their careers. The rapid dissemination of news has been cited as an important advantage of the geoblogosphere."...

A little history:

..."The first geoscientific blogs were released in 2001 with “Green Gabbro” (Bentley, 2008) and in 2003 with “Andrew’s Geology Blog”. Building on the term “blogosphere”, blogging geoscientists soon established “geoblogosphere” as shorthand for the entirety of the geoblog community, including bloggers and readers.

In January 2010 the “Geoblogosphere News” aggregator by Huber et al. (2009) had tallied 265 blogs dealing with Earth sciences. This represents an increase in the size of the geoblogosphere of more than 100 % compared to the previous year."...

For what it is worth, my original blogging began in February 2005, though it was a hodgepodge of science, politics, culture, etc., so for that reason, it probably doesn't fit with the proper geoblog definitions of some.

There are some concerns - as there would usually be with a wide-open free-for-all atmosphere. Freedom can be messy.

..."Serious concerns about the credibility and trustworthiness of science blogs have been raised (Ashlin & Ladle, 2006). But no systematic approach to characterize the geoblogosphere has been carried out yet. Similarly, the geoblogging phenomenon has been incompletely documented. What is the geobloggers’ motivation to write? What is their background, both societally and scientifically? What are their information sources? How do they assess the benefits and disadvantages of blogging? What role will geoblogging play for the future working of the Earth sciences?

The first data on geoblogs were collected by Bentley (2008) who conducted a short online survey with 46 participants representing approximately 50 % of the geoblogosphere at that time (Gei├čler, 2009). Another geoblog-survey was started in August 2009 (female participants: n = 91) to investigate geoblogs as a resource and social support network for women geoscientists (Hannula et al., 2009a, 2009b; Jefferson et al., 2010). This survey included bloggers (n = 36) and blog readers.

With the rapid development of geoblogging, the authors extended and reissued the survey of Bentley (2008), supplemented by data from statistical and semantic analysis of more than 200 Earth science blogs. The study presented here is the first comprehensive attempt to characterize the geoblogosphere from the bloggers’ point of view."

Some other considerations:

..."Blogs have potential to be used as educational tools. In the past several years, several studies have shown that blogs support collaborative, participative learning (Agostini et al., 2009; Hall and Davison, 2007), increase student and teacher relationships, improve flexibility in teaching and learning (Ferdig and Trammell, 2004), and teach students the art of scientific argument (Moore, 2008). In the geosciences specifically, blogs can be powerful instruments to visualize geological phenomena, present annotated field trip guides, or accompany geo-educational projects like “Earth Learning Idea”, which supports teachers and teacher-trainers with Earth-related teaching ideas (King et al., 2008a, 2008b).

The fact that more than 78 % of the surveyed geobloggers write their blogs to acquaint laymen with geosciences suggests that geobloggers see blogging as being a form of geoscientific outreach work. One geoblogger wrote: “The whole goal of being a research scientist is to get your research out as quickly as possible to the widest possible audience. A well-known blog lets you do that very effectively. Our ideas reach people that they would never reach if they were only in our formal publications, and also act as a “gateway drug” to get people onto those publications where the ideas are worked out with full rigor.” Wilkins (2008) reached a similar conclusion; he argued that blogging should be understood as fundamentally outreach for science.

Meanwhile, public geoscientific institutions and societies focus more and more on blogging to increase their visibility to other geoscientists and to a wider public (e.g., AGU, 2010). This includes, for instance, blogs maintained by geological surveys, blogs about research expeditions, and conference blogs. The latter issue has been discussed by Bradley (2009) with the result that he evaluates conference blogs as more advantageous than not."...

Not as much as I should, I sometimes use this blog and my college blog as a teaching tool. I usually leave this blog for the more in-depth discussions or for things not discussed in class.

[For the sake of brevity, you should visit the original linked post for the "rest of the story. For what it is worth, I don't recall if I participated in the original survey or not. At that time, I had not "spun off" this (largely) non-political geoblog, so the politics of the original may have put some people off. We are what we are...]

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