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Social Media University: Blogs

Blogs

A blog is a special type of Website that is organized in “diary-like” entries in reverse chronological order. Blogs are generally organized around a particular theme and represent the work of a single author.

Common Platforms:
(Web-based or self-hosted; and mostly free)

Blogs in Plain English

Blogging

Three blog models for presenting information:

  • Individual: single author
  • Name brand: a recognized group and can be authored by one or more people (i.e., Nature journal blog)
  • Aggregated: functions as a portal containing information to multiple blogs. For example, Science Blogs edits and organizes 80+ blogs into subject categories (earth science, life sciences). Authors are primarily experts who are active in their fields. Large concentration of high-quality blogs brings in a strong scientific community.

Benefits:

  • Simple to start, easy to publish and maintain, free, search engine friendly
  • Aggregated blogs --- portal to many blogs
  • Learning opportunity to explore a new format and keep up to date with emerging technologies

Pitfalls:

  • Privacy issues. Blogs are in the public domain, so there is no confidentiality.

  • Many blogs have a comments feature where visitors are allowed to add comments (their $0.02). With this feature, there is no immediate response from the author.

  • Blogging requires a time commitment and can be time consuming. Blogging requires time to produce high-quality material, time to interact with the users, time to learn the technology and Web design to ensure that the blog is appealing.

  • Beware of inaccurate information. Not all information found on blogs is true or accurate; and not all authors are experts on their selected topic.

  • Stigma --- unprofessional. Blogs may carry a stigma among professionals in the scientific community as not being a valuable use of time. Time should be spent on more traditional formats of research and publication.

Blogging for Scientists

In academia, research and publication are essential markers for indicating your expertise. Researchers submit their work to a journal for publication, which could be a lengthy process.

For scientists, the ability to share research quickly increases cooperation and potentially can make research stronger. With blogs, scientists can communicate and share their ideas and research quickly, disseminate information (preliminary findings) faster, and foster collaborative knowledge.

Check out Science Blogs, which is a compilation of 80+ blogs covering areas of science inculding earth, life, physical, environmental, etc.

Screenshot of a Science Blogs blog post

Example Blogs

Use one of these blog search Websites to find more blogs: Technorati, Google Blog Search, Ice Rocket, Omgili.

Measuring Your Success

Awareness:

  • What is the ranking of the blog?
  • How many unique or return visitors do you have

Engagement:

  • # of subscribers
  • # of comments
  • # of people responding to polls/surveys

Tips & Tricks: For a Successful Blog

Interaction is key --- create a space for readers to comment

Include hyperlinks in your posts

Integrate other social media like RSS or Twitter

Update regularly

Remove static blocks of text, move towards stronger collaborative sharing and knowledge