I’ve been saying for a while that professional societies have an important role in science blogging (see here, pdf) and I really believe it. Of course, others have been skeptical (*cough* Michael Nielsen *cough*) and for good reason. The major societies don’t have a really good track record in this regard. They’ve resisted, talked them down, and provided a platform for members to talk down science blogs.
So why should professional societies support blogging? Well, their main purpose is to support scholarly communication and the advancement of their types of science, right? I mean, the lobbying against libraries is really just a bonus feature. The scholarly communication comes with getting scientists together at meetings and having member magazines, newsletters, and peer reviewed journals. Some societies have also taken as part of their mission that they will advance their type of science in society – to recruit youngsters, to advance policy and funding, and generally to share the love. For both of these missions, if you can successfully argue that blogging is useful for communicating either among scientists or with the public, then it’s a no brainer that societies should support science blogging.
What’s successful in communicating? Mutual understanding? Getting the message across? Reach or audience size? Seems like we have all of this going on.
Could societies support blogging? I’ve suggested before several steps they could take:
- articles in society magazines or on society websites about member blogs
- sessions at conferences (formal or informal) to provide how-to information
- listing member blogs and encouraging experienced member bloggers to mentor other members
- society staff using blogs to communicate to the membership, policy makers, and the public
Do societies support science blogging? I have to say it was a slow start out of the gate, but I’m super impressed with what AGU is doing right now. They’ve blown my suggestions out of the water and are now going to be hosting a few established blogs from their members.
Other societies have tried facebook replacements and certainly IOP has had a few articles in their member magazine about blogging, but nothing like what AGU is doing. Bravo AGU!