In a post from 6 December I marvelled at the fact that there were about 22,4 million blogs registered by the Technorati search machine. Today, two months later, there are 27,1 million blogs, i.e., an increase of more than 75.000 blogs every day! Read more here.
This is more than amazing! Some people believe that blogs are created by loners who want to share their personal diaries with the rest of the world in an act of virtual self-realization, and this may still be true in some cases. But otherwise blogging is a remarkable re-vitalization of public political discourse. The most frequent search terms on Technorati right now are “jyllands-Posten mohammed” and “muslim cartoons”, and the top hot-tags are “islam”, “cartoons”, “denmark” and “bush”. Whether you like it or not, they (more than any other medium) help to spread these infamous cartoons and all different kinds of opinions about them around the globe.
The interest in political issues doesn’t mean that science, or medicine, or history, or culture are excluded from the blogosphere. Today (5 February 2006) Technorati lists 1,634,508 blog posts that contain the word “science”, 679,536 that contain “medicine” and 3,186,388 that contain “history” — and even 1,415 posts that mention “history of medicine”. The recent South Korean stem cell fraud scandal (“Hwang Woo-suk” + “stem cell”) gives 2,574 posts.
But these are search terms in all blogs listed by Technorati. Few bloggers specialize in discussing science, technology and medicine, not to mention the recent history of STM. Malin Sandström, a ph.d.-student at the Royal College of Technology in Stockholm, who has run the Vetenskapsnytt-blog (note below) since March 2005, points to the fact that the world of science, technology and medicine has not taken the blog medium to its heart yet. There have been a few attempts from the side of science news media, like Nature News Blog, and Nature’s genetics blog Free Association, but the outreach repercussions are not very impressive so far. Historians of STM and the science studies community have not been very keen either; there are some, e.g., Janet D. Stemwedel’s (assistant professor of philosophy at San Jose State University) Adventures in Ethics and Science, and the collective Philosophy and Biology, and a few others. But otherwise, public discourse about science, technology and medicine has not yet entered the blog medium.
I think this inertia from the side of the public understanding of science, technology and medicine community — as compared to the public political community where blogging is now beginning to set global agendas — is worth some further reflexion.
Note: Malin Sandström’s blog is “en temablogg om vetenskap och vetenskapsnyheter, främst fokuserad på biologi, medicin och neurovetenskap men med utstickare till många andra områden. Bevakar vetenskapsnyheter världen runt, ger bakgrund och analyser eller kommentarer där det passar” (quoted from Bloggportalen).
(Malin Sandström, Royal College of Technology, Stockholm)