These days, there is a lot of talk about government blogging. At the same time, the geoblogosphere seems to be expanding almost daily. However, there seems to be little overlap between the two: there are very few government geoscientists blogging in an official capacity. I’ve written before about why I think government scientists should be blogging more. With some searching and asking around, though, I was able to identify some examples of government scientists blogging on official agency blogs:
Arizona Geology is the blog of the Arizona State Geologist. The blog is written by Lee Allison, the Arizona State Geologist and Director of the Arizona Geological Survey. Arizona Geology focuses on (surprise!) Arizona geology, but its coverage ranges beyond official state publications. The blog is a great example of short, informative, and timely announcements highlighting official news and publications as well as broader geoscience news and information of regional interest.
To anyone following U.S. government use of social media, it should be of no surprise that NASA probably leads the pack in terms of the number of blogging scientists. Many NASA scientists and engineers contribute to various agency blogs. While there is an overall index page for the blogs, there does not appear to be an “about” page for each individual blog clearly communicating the focus and frequency of the posts. Some examples of NASA blogs with contributions from agency scientists and engineers include:
Operation Ice Bridge
The Operation Ice Bridge blog covered the 2010 NASA airborne survey of polar ice. Contributors to the blog included a variety of NASA staff, including mission scientists. The top of each post lists the author and their title or position, which is a nice way to set readers’ frame of reference as they start reading. The posts from the scientists are short, engaging, and written in plain language. This blog also has great visuals, including both photos and data images. The mission has just ended, so this is an example of a project-specific blog from start to finish.
Notes from the Field
Notes from the Field are posts from a variety of NASA Earth Observatory scientists on field campaigns. These longer, casual posts give readers a real feel for what life in the field can be like.
This is the official blog of the Cassini mission to Saturn. The blog’s intermittent posts include profiles of mission scientists and engineers as well as occasional news from the mission.
USEPA’s Science Wednesdays on Greenversations
Greenversations is the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) blog written by employees, including some scientists, about their everyday work. Science Wednesdays focus on the science involved in USEPA policy work and tend to be short, engaging, and personal posts.
This blog is a particularly interesting example because the posts are considered to represent individual opinions of the author. The posts carry the following disclaimer:
“The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.”
While it’s great to see USEPA scientists contributing to the blog, it’s disappointing that USEPA does not stand behind the accuracy of information presented in its blog. The informal tone and language of some blogs should not be conflated with the quality and accuracy of the content. The general public should be able to rely on the accuracy of content provided on government web sites, regardless of the format in which information provided.
DOD Armed with Science
The Department of Defense (DOD) Armed with Science blog is less than a year old, but it’s a great example of an agency blog that incorporates a wide array of content including contributions from scientists and engineers. This blog also includes video from the Armed with Science webcasts, such as their video series of scientists talking in the recent Dispatches from Antarctica series.
Rock House: Alaska Geologic Materials Center
Updated: 12/8/2010 @ 18:50PST Hat tip to @knrpapp for pointing this one out.
Hot off the presses is Rock House: Alaska Geologic Materials Center (GMC), a new blog from the State of Alaska. The blog just opened its virtual doors this week! The name, Rock House, is a reference to the fact that the GMC is, literally, a house for rock: it stores and catalogs rock core and cuttings from Alaska. The blog plans to keep users and the general public informed about the GMC’s current events and future plans, and to discuss the unique challenges and practices of geologic materials curation. Their first post provides some interesting background on the GMC and the challenges and benefits of a geologic materials archive.
Government Blogs by Scientists or just about Science: What Do You Think?
These are just a few examples of official blogging by government scientists. These are not the only government blogs about science, of course; there are frequent science posts contributed by agency communications offices and science writers.
Do you follow any government science blogs? What do you think about agency blogs being written by scientists versus science writers? Does it matter?
Are there other examples of scientists blogging on official government blogs (in the U.S. and elsewhere) that you like? Please let me know about them in the comments. I’ll update this post accordingly.