SciAm blog network follow-up

Last week, we welcomed the new Scientific American blog network to the ether and stimulated a bit of a discussion on the seeming paucity of chemistry bloggers among the 39 new blogs. Despite the madness of managing the blog launch, Bora Zivkovic stopped by to comment:
Ha! Thank you. All the good chemistry bloggers are here on CENtral Science! I did struggle about it. People with chemistry background whose blogs I like (and think they fit in my network vision) tend not to blog about chemistry much. Or are taken by other networks, or unwilling to join one. But majority of chemistry bloggers write for each other, very inside baseball I cannot understand, thus not really fitting my vision (or SciAm focus on broad audiences). But with two bloggers with background, and one with foreground (plus some of our editors), I hope we can cover chemistry sufficiently, at least for the time being. If a fantastic new chemistry bloggers emerges, please let me know…
I told Bora that he'd have to arm-wrestle C&EN Online Edition Editor, Rachel Pepling, for any top talent. Bora, don't even try. While I was offline the rest of last week, Matt Hartings at ScienceGeist did a fabulous job of following up on this discussion by putting together a detailed, introspective post and stimulating 30+ comments. Go read there. Matt's three final points on what we should do as a chemblogging community are quite worthy of consideration.
1) Keep at it. Chemists were pretty late to the blogging game. It takes time to build up a workable style and consistent readership. Derek Lowe has been able to amass a very large following. Part of that is due to his ability as a writer. Another part of that is due to the fact that he’s been blogging for so long. His prominence shows that there is an audience for on-line chemistry. You just have to cultivate it. 2) There need to be more chemists blogging (or generally more people blogging about chemistry). Prof-like Substance asked, the other day, what is keeping science blog readers from blogging about science. One of the comments noted that they didn’t think that they had much to add to the mix. In the case of chemistry, I would say that this sort of statement is inaccurate. 3) Opposing what Bora said about “inside baseball”, I don’t think that writers should shy away from technical/in depth writing about chemistry. I do, however think that chemistry bloggers should really work on making their “technical” writing more accessible. It is entirely possible to write about chemistry in an approachable way. But, there is a reason why many people don’t: It’s difficult. I personally feel that this is one of the biggest issues facing chemistry. How can we talk about the beauty of a reaction mechanism without a) making people gloss over with boredom or b) seeming overly simplistic to the chemists in our audience. Its not an easy task. But this is something that we, as chemists, really, really, REALLY need to figure out.
Come to think of it, Matt would be a great chemblogging ambassador at either CENtral Science or Scientific American. (Note: Neil already beat me to it.) At the very least, I suggest to Bora that he host Matt for a slot on the SciAm Guest Blog. Bora, Rachel: let the battle begin!

Author: David Kroll

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  1. Sheesh, I feel like a free agent 🙂
    Thanks for the write-up, David. You’re a big inspiration and an example for all of us trying to write about chemistry! Rachel and I chatted a few weeks ago about a chemistry blogging carnival that she had been thinking about running. I hope she pulls it off. It was a REALLY great idea. And, I think it would force a lot of people to work on the craft of writing about chemistry to new audiences.

  2. A chemblogging carnival? Sounds awesome.

    Do I get to be the lion-tamer? Maybe the guy who guesses your weight for a stuffed animal. Long as I’m not the Bearded Lady.

    • @See Arr Oh: I think, perhaps, you should just run the Ferrous Wheel.

      • @Rachel,

  3. The Scientopia guest blog features chemist DrRubidium at the moment…

  4. All the good chemistry bloggers are here on CENtral Science!


  5. Indeed, Sili – no network has been able to get Derek to move from Corante in the 9+ years he’s been there.

  6. David & Matt: thanks for the kind words, your checks are in the mail.

    I am new to the blogosphere but hope I’ll get a seat on the chemblogging ferrous wheel!

  7. @RachelPep, @DrRubidium: I ron the ferrous wheel! Just look Fer the two-ton bearded midget with one eye, 15 tattoos, and a lab coat; answers to “Rusty”