Last night, Heather and I got to attend a dinner and panel on science journalism and new media. In addition to getting to meet two of my science blogging heros, Carl Zimmer* and Ed Yong, it was a great opportunity to interact and hear from lots of folks far more tuned into the writing and journalism worlds than we are. Heather and I want to get other people as excited about science as we are, and we want to communicate science our science, but we aren't trained writers. Any scientist can make a blog, but it takes a lot of effort to make it engaging or even readable. When I first started writing a science blog I thought, "I used to get A's in English class, I can write essays, and I'm a scientist. It can't be that hard." After a few months it be came apparent that that's as naive as a journalist saying, "I took a chemistry class in high school, I can write about the biochemistry of Arsenic-based life. It can't be that hard."
And we all know how well that turned out.
I can imagine how much effort Carl and Ed and other science writers of their calibre have put into actually understanding the science that they write about. I know I need to put at least as much effort into figuring out how to get the communication right. It's tough sometimes, but listening to these guys talk about how important it is for scientists to try gives me extra motivation to try to make it work.
Check out the video of the panel (and listen for the shout-out to We, Beasties @14:10 - Thanks Carl!)
*It was also a bit surreal to have Carl Zimmer pull up a picture of my back on his iPhone to show a couple of people. Pretty cool, but pretty weird.