Sometime back in January I wrote a post about science blogging as an undergrad and I meant to follow up on that post sooner than later. I’m not a huge fan of writing back-to-back navel gazing posts and I wanted to give some time between part 1 and part 2. Some of these ideas are new and others are just expansions of thoughts from the original post.
When I sit down to write a post, three things come to mind
- My personal expertise on the matter
- Getting past that “homework” feeling
- Blog content and coherency
At this point in my academic training, I am an expert in nothing other than whatever I’m cramming for at the moment (and even that can get sketchy). When I sit down to write a post I want to feel comfortable with whatever it is I’m writing, and if I don’t feel like my understanding of the subject is strong enough, I am more likely to avoid the subject than explore it.
This leads me to my second point on the “homework” feeling. At times, writing a blog post can feel similar to doing homework. If my knowledge on a subject is lacking I’ll do the necessary research to make sure I’m not positing complete b.s. If there’s one thing my friends and family will tell you, I’d rather be caught dead than wrong. It’s an issue of personal pride that I know what I’m talking about and that requires a lot of fact checking. Also, knowing that a few geologists and scientists I respect and admire read my posts makes me doubly afraid to post rubbish- even if it’s unintentional. I know I’m not being graded for content, but if I wouldn’t hand it in to my professors for a grade, why would I feel comfortable posting something for the geoblogosphere to see?
Finally, not having an area of expertise means that my blog can be rather unfocused at times. Those that I try to read on a regular basis (like what is found on my blogroll) are fairly focused in their content. Clastic Detritus, Mountain Beltway, and Looking for Detachment come to mind. However I also know that others such as Outside the Interzone manage to cover a fair range of topics with plenty of competency.
In retrospect, I don’t know if any of my concerns are unique to undergrads. Certainly the concerns are valid, but perhaps not isolated to one group. It could be that these are the growing pains of a relatively young blog and are shared by anyone new to the community.