Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Climate Audit and the role of blogs

An excellent discussion over at Climate Audit prompted by the resignation of the site's original administrator, JohnA.  The discussion reflects on the role of blogging in science and it also reveals some of the personal cost required in producing a blog.
As JohnA points out: science has often followed a paradigm that has outlived in usefulness but is simply "patched up" rather than fundamentally rewritten. A sort of blind alley develops, where not only do scientist keep hitting the wall at the end, but they are unaware of how blinkered they can be, until some bright spark comes along.
In today's era of information technology, rapid technological advancement and global information, blogging represents both an alternative vehicle for information, the dissemination of ideas and dialogue.  It also presents a serious challenge to the hegemony of academic, refereed journals as the sole arbitrator of scientific and intellectual "truth".  There will be those who will embrace blogs and blogging for the merits they present.  There will be those that will resist.  Ever thus in the history of change.  But slowly, steadily, or faster and suddenly, history has shown time and time again, that change is inexorable when it benefits most of the people, most of the time.
Online publishing and blogging may not be accepted within academia, they may even be a punitive activity, but they are the way of the future for academia as they are for all forms of media.