Having spent four days in the company of researchers, bloggers, journalists, editors, etc. at the annual ScienceOnline conference (Scio12) in Raleigh, NC, I’m now back in Copenhagen and following on up some projects regarding exactly that. Online Science. I’m trying to motivate people within my own institution, my own department, and also other departments at the university to start blogging about their work. This is not an easy task. As highlighted by the session “Why the Resistance to Science Blogging” (by Pascale Lane and Holly Bik) at Scio12, I’m faced with skepticism, reluctance, and also fear. But mostly just ignorance.

Yesterday, I decided to call upon my fellow bloggers and new acquaintances from Scio12 and tweet them this simple question: Why do YOU blog? Within a few hours, I had received more than 20 responses. Here’s a few of them:

Blogging is teaching, whether it’s yourself or others, and that’s the best feeling in the world (Joe Hanson @jtotheizzoe)

To provide an interesting source of accurate sci stories for general readers. To practice writing. Because I’m addicted (Ed Yong @edyong209)

I blog bc I am a compulsive writer w/advocate, didactic, & argumentative tendencies & wanting to contribute to community (Emily Willingham @ejwillingham)

Helps me work through ideas & then refine them through responses from friends+commenters. Also to learn to be a better writer. (Marie-Claire Shanahan @mcshanahan)

I can’t help myself – need to write, contribute to the community (Bora Zivkovic @BoraZ)

(a Storify of all the responses is available here)

The list of reasons why a scientist/researcher should be blogging is long. So why is it still so hard? What are people afraid of?

(featured image derived from Blogging by xkcd)

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  • As you know, I’m a museum blogger and not a science blogger, but I blog for a few reasons. The first is because you never really know the validity of your own ideas until you try them out somewhere. An idea that might seem great in your own head will often start to unravel quickly if you have to try to convince others of it.

    There is also something incredibly exciting, if at times a little scary, about knowing that making your thoughts public could actually help shape the conversation in your own field. I am still a newcomer to musetech, and yet have been able to participate in some incredibly interesting conversations – and establishing my own voice in the field has been a big part of that. It also means that I always have to be engaging with the current ideas in the field, in order to keep my own content fresh – and that is great motivation to read and think about current research that’s emerging.

    I do still get scared almost every time I press post, however. What happens if I blow my cover, and reveal myself as the idiot I get scared that I am?!? But you know what… if that happens, at least there is the chance to learn from it. So every time, with my wild thoughts and my uncertainties, I force myself to press post. And it’s almost always worth it.