The Nation of Science Blogging
A plume of dust rises from the newly-formed crater. Two are dead, more are wounded. Kilometres away, soldiers load another shell into their long-range artillery. Is it simply another event in a chain of aggression, or is it a cliff, down which with this most recent step the world will go spiralling?
People line a parched street, intent on exercising their right to vote. Across the world, analysts struggle to predict what the election might mean. The threat of war, perhaps. They can’t know for sure.
Political scientists, military analysts and politicians gather to assess the dozens of skirmishes bubbling around the world. Their purpose, right now anyway, is not to solve any of the discrepancies that lie waiting at the borders between nations, but rather to rank them. Which is a threat, and which can, for now, be safely ignored.
Acting in much the same way as a security briefing, so too did this year’s gathering. Influential thinkers in the world of science blogging brought attention to the boundary skirmishes which could use some attention. Science Blogging as a state is extremely well developed. There are States (networks), National Organizations, and independent regulatory agencies with seals of approval. This cohesion creates what Alice Bell so eloquently alluded to, the Nation of Science Blogging.
The boundary between Science Bloggers and other social groups has a history of conflict. The consequences of decisions made now to deal with remaining skirmishes could have significant effects on the status, acceptance, and preservation of the Nation. If Science Bloggers play an important role in the dissemination of scientific knowledge and understanding, then how Science Bloggers deal with the conflicts on their own borders could influence the fate of science in society.
State’s Rights. State’s Responsibilities.
Within the Nation of Science Blogging there exists a large, and growing, number of independent States. Each State has their own majority religion, their own purpose and perspective. They offer varying amounts of social assistance and payments to their citizens. Each State also has their own legislation on gun control, inflammatory language, and aggressiveness. From the eyes of the Nation, these small differences are generally embraced and encouraged.
However, as the Nation tries to become a more significant player on the international stage, it would do well to enforce some basic State requirements. In a session, “How can we maintain high journalism standards on the web?” Maryn McKenna, Paul Raeburn and others laid down the groundwork for the basic requirements a State should fulfil. They based their suggestions on the Society for Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics, encouraging a dedication to accuracy along with honesty and transparency in funding.
The Nation of Science Blogging is already quite prone to civil war, sometimes violent, sometimes peaceful. Encouraging the adoption of some basic State responsibilities – accountability, factual honesty, and funding transparency – should prevent further aggressive confrontations.
The Nation of Science Blogging lies geographically embraced between The United States of Science to the south and the impoverished Band of Budding Writers, who colonized an archipelago to the East. Further to the north lies the Republic of Media. These are highly developed countries, each with their own diverse set of perspectives. Every so often, however, citizens want to take a vacation. They jet across clear skies to spend a week or two visiting the Nation, with it’s temperate climate, sandy beaches, and powdery slopes.
Science Bloggers are more than willing to invite these tourists into their country and into their homes, so long as the stay is temporary. Barring a few powerful examples, there is not much effort made to convince some of the best and brightest vacationers to immigrate. For all of the benefits that the State system offers, it also creates a powerful exclusionary barrier for people who want to pack up, move, and set out on their own in the Nation of Science Blogging.
In the panel, “But It’s Just a Blog!” a vocal group of successful immigrants asked, “How can the science blogging community encourage and mentor young bloggers?” What social assistance can the Nation offer to young entrepreneurs? At a minimum, talented immigrants should be given encouragement and thoughtful criticism. More realistically, however, deliberate attempts need to be made to seek out and encourage talented potential science bloggers to pack their bags, lest the Nation suffer powerful, and real, consequences.
Immigrants and entrepreneurs need practical advice, on style, substance, and approach. They need encouragement, and criticism. The borders of the Nation of Science Blogging are open, but the immigration system is in desperate need of reform.
A significant event can easily take over the national media. Unfortunately, the story will have the same presence, and follow the same cycle in the international press, as the coverage of a natural disaster. The initial story is presented, and follow-up coverage and controversy are ignored, until a convenient milestone is reached.
When a scientist has managed to successfully take up residence in the Nation of Science Blogging, they bring a unique ability to uncover new information and expose new angles in a controversy. They bring together skills, knowledge, and a platform that exists nowhere else in the world, and it is up to the Nation to make sure that local atrocities make it on to the international stage.
Unfortunately, after the end of the War, many residents of the Nation of Science Blogging are understandably uneasy dealing with The Republic of Media. Science Bloggers fear their issues will be misinterpreted, misrepresented, or misused. Fortunately, international efforts are being spearheaded to open the flow of information.
During the session, “Keepers of the Bullshit Filter: How to crowdsource accountability and accuracy in the new media world,” diplomatic efforts took a positive turn towards opening the flow of information. Many in Media seek out truth and honesty in their work, and their goals often align with the Nation. Alok Jha, an ambassador from Media, said he is sympathetic to the plights of the Nation, and that he would like to see stronger collaboration between the two countries.
This is a particularly important development, because without the assistance of the Republic of Media, many of the atrocities brought to light by the Nation will never reach the Public. Without people who are able to travel freely between countries, it’s questionable whether many controversies would get the international exposure they sometimes do. Easing the flow of knowledge and expertise between The United States of Science, The Nation of Science Bloggers and the Republic of Media is one of, if not the, most important tasks for the year ahead.
The Nation of Science Bloggers is currently tracking a number of potentially explosive issues. We recommend increasing social benefits to encourage entrepreneurs and skilled immigrants. States of the Nation should consider signing up to some loose requirements, including transparency in funding and of potential conflicts of interest. We also recommend engaging in significant diplomatic efforts to increase international collaboration, lest current border skirmishes expand, drawing the Nation back into violent conflict.
State Department of the Nation of Science Bloggers