Thursday, January 11, 2007

Why do I blog?

Mitch blogged about a comment Bethany Halford, Associate Editor of C&EN, left in The Chem Blog. She is writing an opinion piece on chemistry blogs, and is wondering why I blog, whether I use a nickname, and if my employer knows I blog. So, here goes.

Why do I blog?

I started blogging in October 2005 to reduce my workload: involved in open source chemoinformatics projects, I quite often emailed to mailing lists about interesting websites/projects/events etc. Not uncommonly to multiple lists, which required me to tune the email to the list. I realized that blogging about it, would make it possible to no longer post it to mailing lists, and, therefore, reduce my workload. A second reason is that I post tricks there, so that I have them available in a central place, and to post questions that, hopefully, others can answer. As such, it is a way of communicating with fellow scientists, without the need the specifically address them. Open, free and fast.

Deliberately, I did not start a personally diary blog, but a blog about my work as chemoinformatician. Nevertheless, the nature of blogging allows to give what you write a personal twist. To stress scientific nature of my blog, and many others, is that blogging scientists often cite and discuss literature, which nicely leads to scientific blog aggregators like and Chemical blogspace, which summarize the scientific literature being discussed in the blogosphere. The latter even recently started to blog about molecules being discussed. There are even blogs which specialize on discussing literature, such as the blog by Rajarshi, Gary and David.

Why do I not use a nickname?

In my blogging I am clear in who I am, even where I work; I blog about my scientific work, and, as reader, putting one and one together would lead to my real name soon enough anyway. I did not discuss the blogging with the employer I had in 2005, but the blogging is mostly done outside office hours anyway, certainly in that period. My current employer is a scientific blogger himself. Even my nickname, or pseudonym, is not that obfuscated.

Moreover, I do make a statement in my blog (which sort of summarizes to: "you cannot do science if you cannot reproduce experimental results"), and I think it is not more than fair to identify myself. I'm not like Ender's brother Peter.

Why do I answer Bethany's questions?

I try to convince myself that I do not answer these questions out of procrastination, something Bethany is wondering. Instead, I like blogging as new way to communicate with fellow scientists on a scientific level (Bethany, do explore the full chemical blogspace, and be amazed of the high scientific content gems around!), though this might qualify is catching up with current literature. Moreover, answering this questions allows me to advertize my blog, and some websites I like. I feel that blogging might fill a niche in scientific communication.

Bethany, please feel free to leave additional questions as comment.