Blogging the history and philosophy of science

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<ul><li><p>Blogging the history and philosophy of scienceThe Dispersal of Darwin ( by Michael D. Barton, Portland, OR, USA</p><p>Michael D. Barton</p><p>Over the last 5 years, a new form of scholarship within thehistory and philosophy of science, technology and medicine</p><p>-tf</p><p>r-:</p><p>sr</p><p>e-s</p><p>-,3</p><p>-</p><p>-</p><p>s</p><p>personal dimension beyond public and professional com-munication.5 His blog works as a writing workshop anda way of unwinding the process, of venturing outward,</p><p>t</p><p>ft</p><p>I</p><p>st</p><p>,</p><p>-,</p><p>l-,</p><p>l--t</p><p>-,</p><p>r</p><p>)</p><p>s/</p><p>e.</p><p>42 Book Reviews Endeavour Vol. 36 No. 2closed by stating that blogs are an opportunity to bringin traditions from outside scholarship to see what can bedone. Historian of exploration Michael Robinson offerson his blog, Time to Eat the Dogs, that blogging has a</p><p>importantly, blogging has brought to some writers positivebenefits: publications, book reviews, conference invitations, radio appearances, networking opportunitiesawards, prospects in job seeking, while some have hadrather negative results (not all departments are keen onfaculty devoting time to online projects).7 Other reasons foCorresponding author: Barton, M.D. (</p><p>Available online 10 March 2012.1 Benjamin Cohen, Why Blog the History of Science? Newsletter of the History of</p><p>Science Society 37:4 (October 2008)</p><p>2 Lynch blogs at A Simple Prop and the collective Whewells</p><p>Ghost Will Thomas, Blogging as Scholarship Ether Wave Propaganda (October 24,</p><p>2008)</p><p>5 Michael Robinson, A Blog of Ones Own Time to Eat the Dogs (October 27, 2008</p><p>6 Loc Charles, Blogging for what? Blogging for whom? History of EconomicPlayground (November 14, 2008)</p><p>7 Michael D. Barton, History of Science Society 2009: Your Daily History of SciencThe Dispersal of Darwin (November 25, 2010) http://thedispersalofdarwin.wordpresscom/2009/11/25/history-of-science-society-2009-your-daily-history-of-science/.</p><p>www.sciencedirect.comhas emerged. Historians of science and students of thehistory of science have turned to online tools for writingand communicating their work and interests, most notablyblogs and Twitter. This review will summarize commentary about the utility of blogs in the profession and look athe variety of blogs focused on the history and philosophy oscience.</p><p>In 2008, historian Benjamin Cohen wrote a piece for thenewsletter of the History of Science Society in which heconsidered the motivations of those who expand theiinterests beyond the academic community through blogging.1 He outlined what he called the AyersOnuf axisthose aligning with Ayers making historical informationrelevant by relating it to current issues (the idealist), andthose with Onuf studying history for the love of historyitself (the realist). For Cohen, bloggers are situated on thiaxis, either with the belief that they are generating and/oinfluencing public conversation or with the motivation toexplore a given subject in depth. Cohen, who blogs at ThWorlds Fair,2 finds a pedagogical value in his own blogging, his posts becoming supplemental material for courseand helpful in his own research (akind of electronic set of note cards). History and philosophyof science bloggers also fit on this axis, but beyond informing readers of the blog of historian of biology John Lynchhe did not mention others beyond a few notable podcasts.</p><p>While Cohen was probably the first to reflect on thehistory of science blogosphere, his article has prompted anumber of responses. Will Thomas described his sharedblog Ether Wave Propaganda as a laboratory of scholarship, an experiment to create a sustainable alternativeculture to the one with which we are familiar.4 Not onlydo blogs extend conversation beyond seminars, colloquiums, conferences, and journals, but they can do somethings better. Specifically, for Thomas, articulatingideas, speculating about ideas (with quick responsetimes compared to journals), the recovery and abilityto revise information, and providing criticism. Thomatesting the ground, roaming somewhere else, and testingit again. Loc Charles, while also believing that a blogpermits freer exchanges than conference sessions andjournals, wrote on History of Economics Playground thablogging also benefits from ceasing the ephemeral natureof conversation.6 Discussions about a particular issueremain, and are available for others.</p><p>In 2009, I was asked to participate in a History oScience Society session about education and the Interneand discussed my own experience as a history of scienceblogger (since 2007 at The Dispersal of Darwin). Largely, blog for the love of sharing content I find interesting andhave as a result found blogging to help in networking withother writers and scholars in various disciplines. For mytalk, I conducted a very informal survey of history andphilosophy of science bloggers of which I was aware (of 40or so blogs I listed, I contacted 32 and received responsefrom 21). I found that: bloggers included professors avarying levels (in history, philosophy, and physics), aresearch fellow, a post-doc historian, students at varyinglevels, an archivist, a curator, two antiquarian booksellersan accountant, an entomologist, and several freelancewriters and independent scholars; that most blogs arenot history of science-specific, but rather include suchcontent; motivations for starting the blog included research, communication, political commentary, networkingand creating an online reference; blogs may be categorisedas pedagogical, departmental community, organizationacommunity, outreach, business and hobby/self-interest/research; and that readers included historians of scienceother professional academics, students and the public.</p><p>Asked What does blogging offer that cannot beexpressed in other forms of writing?, the replies includedrapid development of ideas; writing exercise, less formaapproach to writing, publishing in a non-university domain; easy/quick public access and storage; close relationship with readers, and immediate feedback. Mos</p></li><li><p>blogging or reading blogs I have come across are the dailyaccess to the history of science content it provides andattempts to combat textbook cardboard (borrowing aphrase from the late Stephen Jay Gould), a motivationbehind science writer Brian Switeks history-rich posts atLaelaps that tell a more nuanced and accurate story ofpaleontological history.8</p><p>bcah2clmp</p><p>JothavyreHwlaacoItbacoa</p><p>That list of approximately 40 blogs I compiled in late2009 has since grown tremendously to over 100, and Icontinually update it on my blog.11 Here are some recom-mendations beyond those previously mentioned: Archy byJohn McKay, Boffins and Cold Warriors by Cold War de-feaPspTVGCSicNseAthfrHPsaNfrbGhHa</p><p>01</p><p>do</p><p>1</p><p>htFr. puHco</p><p>11 Michael Barton, An updated list of history of science blogs and Twitter TheDispersal of Darwin (August 4, 2010)</p><p>Book Reviews Endeavour Vol. 36 No. 2 43</p><p>wVirdi pulled her results together for a short article in the HSS Newsletter, alsoblished at her blog: Jaipreet Virdi, in a Cyberspace Community: The Growth ofPS Blogging From the Hands of Quacks (October 6, 2010) http://jaivirdi.wordpress.8 Brian Swtiek, Laelaps The Giants Shoulders Jaipreet Virdi, Survey Says. . . From the Hands of Quacks (September 17, 2010)tp://; and Jai Virdi, Survey Resultsom the Hands of Quacks (September 17, 2010) order to gain an appreciation for history of sciencelogging in one place and time, The Giants Shoulders blogrnival is a round-up of such content, posted on a differentost blog each month.9 The carnival was started in June008 as a way for science bloggers to share posts aboutassic science papers, but has grown into sharing allanner of history of science, technology and medicineosts.More recently, on her blog From the Hands of Quacks,</p><p>aipreet Virdi considered whether or not there is a historyf science community on the blogosphere (she noted thatere is on Twitter, and I will note that my list of historynd philosophy of science blogs also includes links to thearious people who tweet about the field). Short answer:es. She also conducted an informal survey to learn aboutadership, sent out through blogs, Twitter, and variousPS listserves.10 Virdi found that a good portion of thoseho read HPS blogs are graduate students, while the nextrgest group are interested non-academics. Readers seemlso to be interested in blogs for images and other onlinentent that does not make it into traditional publications.</p><p> seems, then, that there is a growing community of HPSloggers with varied motivations, goals, and networking,s well as readers who actively participate and sharentent, all occurring outside the confines of classroomsnd conferences.m/2010/10/06/conversing-in-a-cyberspace-community-the-growth-of-hps-blogging/. 20</p><p>ww.sciencedirect.comnce research historian John Turner, The Bubble Chamber, collective blog from the University of Torontos Scienceolicy Working Group, two blogs from the Darwin Corre-ondence Project on gender and human nature, Evolvinghoughts by philosopher of biology John Wilkins, Falseacuum by graduate student Aaron Wright, History ofeology by geologist David Bressan, History of Scienceentres Blog from the Royal Society of London, Americancience from the Forum for the History of Science in Amer-a, Longitude Project Blog from the team working on a jointational Maritime Museum/University of Cambridge re-arch project, PACHmorgasbord from the Philadelphiarea Center for History of Science, The Pauling Blog frome OSU Libraries Special Collections, The Primate Diariesom history of science PhD Eric Michael Johnson, OUistory of Science Collections by curator Kerry Magruder,tak Science Books by bookseller John Ptak, The Renais-nce Mathematicus (which recently won the History Newsetworks 2010 Cliopatria Award for best individual blog)om historian of science Thony Christie, Scientia Curiosay historian Holly Tucker, Skulls in the Stars by physicistreg Gbur, and Whewells Ghost, a collective from severalistorians and philosophers of science, including Rebekahiggitt. I encourage readers of Endeavour to peruse this listnd visit, comment on, and share these blogs.</p><p>60-9327/$ see front matter</p><p>i:10.1016/j.endeavour.2012.01.00110/08/04/hos_blogs/.</p></li></ul>


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