Archive for: February, 2010

Friday Sprog Blogging: more on pseudonymity.

Feb 19 2010 Published by under Blogospheric science, Kids and science

Although I swear that the Free-Ride offspring have not read the relevant prior posts!
While walking home from school:
Younger offspring: From now on, in the sprog blogs, can you call me "the small, silent one"?
Dr. Free-Ride: Why? You're neither small nor silent.
Elder offspring: Definitely not silent. I live with you, I know.

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10 responses so far

Some preliminary thoughts on the UCLA panel discussion on animal-based research.

The panel discussion took place, as planned, on the evening of Tuesday, February 16, 2010 at UCLA. The hall was well-populated, if not completely packed, with members of the UCLA community. (Honestly, for week 7 of a 10-week quarter, during a spell of lovely weather, I'm impressed they had such a high turnout of students.) There was also a serious security presence (which the university felt was needed in light of past instances where strong feelings have been displayed in more than just words).
Both Pro-Test for Science and Bruins for Animals deserve huge props for all the work they put into planning and coordinating the event. For their troubles, Bruins for Animals had to put up with a fair amount of abuse from people who were nominally on their side. Nonetheless, they stuck to their guns and worked very hard to create an event that was a dialogue, not a debate.
The event itself was videotaped (from two cameras), with the hope that the picture and sound quality will be good enough that the video can be posted online. When it is, I'll post a link to it so you can see it for yourself. In the meantime, I'll give you my impressions as a participant (which is to say, you shouldn't count on my for an account that is complete in all its details or even very objective).

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29 responses so far

Impediments to commenting worth typing into a text box.

On the post where I asked you what made you feel welcome to comment on blogs and polled you on what would make you unlikely to comment on a post, friend of the blog Eva notes in a comment:

One of the bloggers at nature network is currently polling (silent) readers about what makes them not comment. Registration requirements are in first place at the moment, followed by the mysterious "another reason", so I'm curious to hear what the other reasons were, and whether they overlap with anything from your poll!

So, in the interests of sharing the information gathered by my (decidedly unscientific) poll of my readers, here are the responses people who picked "other" in my poll typed into that text box:

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8 responses so far

Collegiality matters.

Feb 15 2010 Published by under Academia, Tribe of Science

Abel has a thoughtful post on the horrific faculty meeting shooting at University of Alabama Huntsville this past Friday. New information seems to come out every few hours on the shooter, Dr. Amy Bishop, a biologist at the university who had been denied tenure, and I'm nowhere near ready to weigh in on the particulars of the case (at least, not with anything smarter than my viscera). But I do want to say just a little on a pair of questions Abel posed in his post:

  1. Do you think that lack of collegiality is grounds for denial of tenure for a candidate that otherwise meets the basic quantitative criteria outlined in university guidelines?
  2. Do you feel that collegiality - or whatever you want to call it: teamwork, cooperation - should be an important factor in making academic tenure decisions?

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28 responses so far

What to do when your coauthor doesn't return your calls.

Dr. Isis considers a downside to having coauthors and an ethical question it raises:

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8 responses so far

Weekend reflection: what makes blog commenting inviting?

I'm not looking for a general theory of what sets up the right room for dialogue as opposed to an argument, nor even for a fine grained analysis of whether dialogue or argument is what most blog readers and commenters are looking for.
If you're reading this post, I'm interested in knowing what you prefer.
First, a quick poll (where you can choose all the answers that apply):

I'm unlikely to comment on a blog post where(polls)

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24 responses so far

Anonymity, real names, and dialogue.

Matthew C. Nisbet put up a post today titled The Right Room for a Dialogue: New Policy on Anonymous Comments. In it, he writes:

I've long questioned the value of anonymous blogging or commenting. Much of the incivility online can be attributed to anonymity. And with a rare few exceptions, if you can't participate in a dialogue about issues without using your full name and true identity, then what you have to say is probably not that valuable.

These long standing thoughts were called to mind again after reading a post by Andrew Revkin at Dot Earth. Quoting as the subject to his post a line from Monty Python "is this the right room for an argument?," Revkin writes:

Michael Palin asked that question nearly 40 years ago on Monty Python's Flying Circus, and it's as germane as ever in considering the merits and drawbacks to blogging, and particularly the comment strings following posts. Often, the commentary here and elsewhere threatens to devolve into extended volleys of retorts, particularly when anonymous contributors are involved, some of whom are so relentless that their ideological foes sometimes allege they must be getting paid to do what they're doing.

Revkin goes on to link to a column by Columbus Dispatch editor Benjamin Marrison who discusses the negative impact of anonymous commenters on the newspaper's Web site. As Marrison observes of people who email the Dispatch or leave comments at stories: "Is it a coincidence that all of those civil people are reachable (and somewhat accountable) through a return e-mail?"

Matt then notes that he'll be taking steps on his blog to end anonymous commenting.

Of course, it's Matt's prerogative to establish whatever sort of ground rules for commenting on his blog that he likes. However, the title of his post suggests that his aim, in moving to block anonymous commenting (and presumably pseudonymous commenting, although it's not made explicit in the post) is to foster dialogue.

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16 responses so far

Friday Sprog Blogging: K-I-S-S-I-N-G.

Feb 12 2010 Published by under Kids and science

On account of Valentine's Day being right around the corner, and inspired by Sheril's almost-through-the-edits book on the science of kissing, I thought I'd ask the Free-Ride offspring (now 8.5 and 10.5 years old) whether they had any questions about kissing that they thought science might be able to answer.
Their initial reaction:

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9 responses so far

Good riddance to a pair of academic pretenses.

Following DrugMonkey's lead, I'm going to play along on the meme proposed by Female Science Professor:

What tradition or other general characteristic of academia would you like to see eliminated completely?
According to the rules, which I just invented, the things to be eliminated have to be of a general nature. So, for example, the answer "my department chair" or "my university's moronic president" are unacceptable unless you want to eliminate the general concept of department chairs or university presidents.
The candidates for disposal can be anything to do with academia, from the most momentous of traditions (tenure) to the most bizarre but inconsequential (academic gowns).

It actually took me a little while to think of a candidate for elimination, but once I did, it really grabbed my viscera. (Actually, technically, what I want to eliminate may be two distinct general characteristics of academia, but at their root they're so closely related that I think they ought to get the heave-ho together.)

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16 responses so far

Blogiversary addendum.

Feb 10 2010 Published by under Food, Passing thoughts, Personal

Earlier today, I had this conversation with my better half.
Dr. Free-Ride's better half: (with a look of deep concern) So, I saw something in your post today.
Dr. Free-Ride: Oh? (Wondering if a heinous typo got through cursory attempts at editing)

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One response so far

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