As some of you may know, Scicurious has a post in Open Lab 2008. So I was totally excited when I heard that The New Scientist reviewed the book, and hoped for little accolades and tidbits to be dropped in Sci's direction, as she's pretty shameless that way. I was also especially interested in the review, as Sci will be the guest editor of this year's Open Lab, and thus I wanted to know what to expect, what we could improve, and what stuff last year's editors did really well.
By the way, you should SUBMIT TO OPEN LAB!!!!! (When I yell it like that, it makes me think of the second Superman movie, when the bad guy is all like "Kneel before Zod!" Yell it like that.)
...and walks right into the massive ongoing argument that is Science Journalism vs. Science Blogging: Internet Death Match.
I'm sorry, but where do I line up to read the book review?
I was a little disappointed with the New Scientist and their review. Not because they didn't review the book. And for all I know their reviews of it are accurate (Sci will admit she's biased). I am disappointed because the book review appeared only to serve as a platform for a continuance of this debate. This is especially unfortunate given that there is really only one post in Open Lab 2008 that directly references the debate going on. Though admittedly, Coturnix does give somewhat of a smackdown in the opening comments.
Still, it's a bit of a backhanded compliment to say "science blogs in general aren't any good, but the posts in this book are ok". For an example of this, he uses the fact that climate change denialist blogs have won best science blog award in years past. It may indeed be true that there are bad science blogs out there, but it doesn't negate the work that the rest of us are trying to do, though admittedly, we aren't as popular.
The reviewer also notes that blogging can reinforce bad ideas because "people are generally drawn to blogs that reinforce their own views, not ones that challenge them". But isn't this also true of books, TV, or any other form of media? The fact is, people will be attracted to the stuff they like, and rationalize away the stuff they don't.
But the reviewer does note that Open Lab is good (w00t!), and mentions a couple of the best posts by name. However, he also notes that "too many are mini-lectures, with no narrative or personal angle to sustain your attention." I guess he must have read mine. 🙂 If he doesn't like well-written lectures on basic science material, I certainly hope he doesn't read most of the popular science books out there. He will find himself woefully bored.
Sci admits she doesn't really have the most background knowledge on this debate, or why the reviewer was sparked to use Open Lab to take issue with science blogs everywhere. For that, I recommend Laelaps and Blake. Blake's got a hilarious take on it, but Laelaps really delivers a well thought-out rebuttal.
So anyway, until other reviews come in, Sci wants to know. If you submitted to Open Lab, read Open Lab, love Open Lab, hate Open Lab, cuddle with Open Lab at night, why? What about Open Lab works for you? And what suggestions do you have for improvements or possible changes? I'd really like to know!