Current Issues in the Geoblogosphere – Episode #1

The notes can also be found as a Google Doc.

Audio Podcast: (52 minutes – 50 Mb)

    Call Participants

Ron Schott
Katharine North
Maitri Erwin
Chris Rowan
Julia Heathcote Anderson
Kevin Zelnio
Lee Allison

  • looking at ways of building a community w/o necessarily invoking a tight network
  • how to promote the geoblogosphere, both to each other and the outside world using widely-adopted web tools
  • create foci w/o necessarily everyone posting on the same server
  • open to anyone who would like to participate
  • overlap between geoscience and policy/government
  • example of geopathology: participation has ebbed recently
  • blogging activity always ebbs and flows – to be expected
  • what is the difference between a group of blogs and a blog network?
  • blogs reflect issues currently being discussed among geoscientists
  • is the blog the only outlet to these current issues?
  • how can we affect policy – open access, etc.?
  • Lee Allison’s blog goals:
    • facilitate support
    • build a community of geoscientists
  • Lee was first official in Arizona to blog, must be careful about partisan issues
    • natural extension of communication responsibilities of job
    • more interest in his agency because of blog – positive
    • hasn’t had much feedback – perception that blogging is not a normal state geologist function
  • want to keep growing geoblogosphere
  • how can we engage professional peers?
    • raise awareness of possibilities generated by blogging
    • aggregating geology news
    • (obviously not a peer-reviewed process)
  • professional commentary
    • could we review/discuss papers and include the paper author(s) in the conversation
    • this already occurs at The Third Reviewer (
    • seems to be a barrier to getting people to engage
    • most don’t see academic interest – need to get to root of this question
    • change perception from that of risk to a good opportunity
    • what is the incentive to blog, etc? Outreach.
    • nice for peers to participate in existing blogs, leave comments, etc.
  • first step: get other geologists/peers to participate
  • blogging is not viewed by others as a professional contribution
  • why isn’t teaching and outreach valued as much as publishing?
  • others ask, “Why aren’t you writing papers instead of writing a blog post?”
  • in general, need to get students into classrooms, attract more money
  • AGU, GSA have stepped up online presence in past few years, especially AGU
  • do GSA and/or AGU have educational outreach committees?
    • target high school students?
    • very few earth science courses below the university level
  • more voices = more likely that others outside the current geoblogosphere community will find something they enjoy and be attracted to geology
  • some blogging material is used in classrooms, grant proposals
  • therefore, blogging is a proven outreach activity
  • approach the NSF for support of geoblogosphere as outreach?
  • researchers are good at research and don’t necessarily have clear plans for outreach
    • proposals have plans to build websites that will do amazing things that never happen
  • COPUS: Coalition on the Public Understanding of Science (Lee is co-founder, on board)
    • rethinking directions – strong social media approach
    • could COPUS bless/sponsor a geoscience policy blog?
    • has 1000 participants
    • under review: blog aggregator – as a facilitator, commentator
  • how do we move from aggregator services to active outreach? (the two overlap)
  • engage with MSM
    • example: #CAserpentine – focus on education, press release, engaging community, legislators, opponents
  • how to publicize geoscience research? become a media organization
  • Cheryl Dreyfus at NSF (public relations/media position) – sends Lee Allison announcements to post on blog
    • NSF is already recognizing blogs/social media as valuable
  • PLoS – good at getting bloggers information – can get papers ahead of publication time
  • sales pitch to individual departments to help attract geo students?
  • have to court media to get funding
  • traditional MSM doesn’t do a good job at explaining science
    • geoblogosphere could fill a vacuum of geoscience reporting
    • like Science Network TV – C-SPAN for Science
    • Who defines “Science” in MSM?
  • need more video and audio, not just blogs, Twitter – not very expensive
    • lots of bang for little buck – Ron would like to pursue
    • Ron has a lot of tech tools – close to being able to produce something
  • some researchers more enthusiastic about talking than writing
    • different skill set
    • people talk a lot – conferences, etc
    • an interview could be something to put on a C.V.
  • weekly show about a topic – a host and a guest or two
    • talk about a paper or news and answer listener questions
    • do that for each discipline: vulcanology, deep sea, seismic, etc…
    • could also be regional interest instead of discipline-specific, e.g. Geology of California
    • maybe 1 hr/week?
  • – set up quickly, easily b/c people got tired of writing, reading
    • maps are a visual medium – makes this compelling
  • Audioboo: – record ~5 minutes of talking about an issue, post similar to a blog
  • build a network, then proliferate
  • HOW do we aggregate? Where is the home?
  • Ron could do a proof-of-concept for the aggregate
  • Follow-up with Marilynn Souter (name sp?) at NSF (education division) – good sounding board for whether NSF would be willing to sponsor
    • do we need proof-of-concept or is the idea enough to get NSF interested?
    • what would NSF need from geoblogosphere to sell them on the concept?
  • start with Geoscience outreach in academia – need to just try something and see how it works
  • important to have different media forms to attract different people; some like to read, some listen, some watch
  • is a front page – network effects w/o a network
  • try a variety of approaches and modify; be flexible
  • all-geo YouTube channel? (Chris could look into it)
    • could just add favorites, not necessarily new content
    • state geologists have YouTube channels, links to other channels
    • becomes a one-stop portal that the geoblogosphere has vetted
    • highlights quality content
    • we don’t personally have to create content
  • Gotomeeting:
    • can share screen
    • a possibility for the next chat
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