Scienceblogging 2008 was an interesting meeting. The main thing I came away with is an insight into an excellent example of open notebook science (Jean-Claude Bradley spoke of his useful chemistry project). This is an area that could help those scientists wavering on the edge of the internet to take the plunge into the internet and something I will follow up on.
I did feel that there were two audiences: the converted (committed bloggers, though many only operating within the cosseted realms of network nature) and those who had thought about blogging and wanted to know how to get started. I think I expected there to be many more people live blogging and/or an active twitter backchannel, especially as a tag had been set up (#sciblog) for the purpose. There was a live webcast from Cameron Neylon and the Friendfeed room set up for the purpose was a good commentary stream for those not at the conference but attending virtually (like Alan Cann in Leicester or Mike Seyfang further afield in Australia). I guess I expected something closer to the twitter backchannel there was at the Socialearn event I attended earlier this year. However, even after only a day, the Friendfeed room is developing into more a discussion with people bookmarking their blog posts and replying to other comments.
In the final session Timo Hannay commented that perhaps blogging was just too new and scientists uptake would increase once technology had become more mainstream (just as email was foreign to many academics ten years ago!). Perhaps this was the nub of the meeting, there were pioneers and newbies and interested onlookers all joined together in this new arena which has not yet developed enough to know where it is going or what it’s purpose is. We will get there.
The final panel set a challenge to the audience – whoever convinces the most senior scientist to start and maintain a blog with a science basis (so presumably not just a record of what they ate for breakfast or what stamps they collect) can win a fully funded trip to SciFoo 2009. So look out FRS’s we are after you!