2014 on ErrantScience

I started science blogging a little over a year ago and I’ve been running ErrantScience for about 9 months now. When I started I had some blogging experience from a while back but essentially no idea what I was doing. I designed the blog with some self imposed rules about my frequency and content, based on what I thought was best at the time.

Having now got a bit of experience under my belt, I thought it was time I reviewed a few things, in an attempt to do better. So I’ve reviewed a few aspects of my blog below and explained what I plan to change about it in 2014. I’m curious to find out what you think of all this so I’ve included a vote box with every change, for you to voice your own feelings on my ideas. You don’t have to log in or give up any details, just clicky the buttons.

Content

My original plan was to write about my work and me. I am pretty sure the internet doesn’t need another reactionary blog ranting about various topical subjects. I still think this is the right idea as I hope I provide a unique insight into being a researcher.

I would like to do a few more ‘How to:‘ guides as well as reviews of things like STEM books and apps but I will try to make these extra content on top of the weekly blog post, which I plan to keep a bit more focused.

 

Frequency

In my previous blog, I wrote a post every day – each one was between 500 and 1000 words. I almost killed myself. For ErrantScience I’ve been producing one a week, which has so far been pretty manageable.

I have noticed that other science bloggers don’t tend to update nearly as often as me, but I do feel that my content is a little different and lends itself to shorter, more frequent posts rather than longer monthly posts

If I change anything, I might be a little less strict on limiting myself to one post a week. Some weeks when I have something particularly intresting going on, I might do a few small extra posts.

‘Toons

I hadn’t planned to do drawings/graphics for ErrantScience when I started out. But I’ve really enjoyed drawing random rubbish for the blog posts so I might keep it going

Ironically, I forgot to bring my tablet into the office today, so there is no drawing to go with this post.

Social Media

I have pretty mixed feelings about social media so I think I’ll review my plans for them all separately.

Twitter – I absolutely love Twitter, it’s a fantastic place to talk to a large number of cool people I’ve never met and it’s got a really supportive science community. If you are a scientist, please start tweeting and more importantly

Facebook – By contrast to Twitter, this year I have started really hating Facebook. 80% of my newsfeed is link spam and advertising, the updates from friends are getting lost in the noise and random Facebook filtering. What is worse, the ErrantScience Facebook page is essentially pointless as, thanks to Facebook’s push for revenue, no one sees the updates! So I’ve shut the page and I will stick with my personal Facebook page but to be honest, I’m kinda done with it.

Tumblr – Facebook is dead, all hail Tumblr… I hope. I’ve not really started getting in to Tumblr yet but what I have seen is so much better than Facebook and hopefully will be a better place to link to ErrantScience and communicate with other scientists. Not sure how I’m going to use it quite yet, still feeling my way, but I am going to invest some serious time, as the platform looks great.

Google+At the start of 2013 I really hoped Google+ was going to somehow be the answer to my social media needs but now it’s more ‘desert wasteland’ than ‘dynamic media platform’. So I think I’m just going to start pretending it doesn’t exist. Since writing the above text I’ve had to spend some more time with Google+ as it has some excellent video handling stuff that I just can’t get anywhere else. So given this new found need, I am going to try sticking with it for a bit longer, or at least until Ustream fix their application.

Vine – I love vine videos, I think 7 second vids are really clever and fun and I hope that I can get a whole lot better at making them. I will totally be making more vine videos this year, especially of home science experiments with my son.

Instagram – *shrug*

Diversity

I really enjoyed doing the Scientists vs Engineer discussion post, it was really nice to get another perspective/voice on the blog. It was also one of the most popular posts this year. I’m hoping that this year I can persuade some more people to do joint posts and guest posts on the blog. What I’d really like to do is possibly open up ErrantScience a bit to other people wanting a place to start blogging and give people a platform to do it on. There are plenty of blogging communities out there but I’d love to start building one here for anyone who wants to have a go at opening up their work.

If anyone is interested in writing with/alongside me, then please get in touch.

Data Sharing

This year I went totally digital with my lab book by adopting Evernote. This means it is easier than ever for me to release my data/work online without needing to spend 2 days curating the metadata. My new project is big on sharing and public engagement and I plan on pushing to have as much of our data on FigShare as quickly as possible. It will require agreement from all the project sites but thanks to FigShares collaboration tools, publishing our data might actually help us internally, as well as allowing others to see our work. Obviously there will be a bit of a delay between collecting data and putting it online – sharing everything instantly would be quite foolish.

Quite Foolish

In addition to blogging about my work, I’m going to start streaming my work online.

This year, streaming has really taken off as a commonly used media on the internet. I’ve watched many streams of various games being played, along with streams of people coding. They are oddly fascinating and very engaging. I realise that to many this sounds a bit ‘alternative’ but that’s what I thought about me blogging when I first started, and if nothing else I want to give it a go!

I fully expect that to start with, it might be not that intresting but the only way to discover how to run a good stream is to try. You can find my streaming stuff HERE, I’ll try my best to stream something every week. The content will vary from coding and writing papers, to some slightly more interesting lab work.

 

I think that covers pretty much every aspect of the blog I plan on changing this year. Enjoy!

TL;DR – Slightly expanded content; same frequency (sort of); TUMBLR!; other scientist writers wanted; more open data; and CLICK HERE.

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