Home Science Communication The Internet – an interlude

The Internet – an interlude

by Eva Amsen

I know I owe you two more days of play by play conference updates, but here is something much more interesting, about the internet as a community. A lot was said this weekend about commenting on blogs, and reading blogs, and who reads what and when and how often and what do they do with that. In one session I noted that I didn’t really know who was reading my blog(s) because people very rarely comment. I have an inkling, though.

I know this blog here, Expression Patterns, is more popular among scientists. I was surprised to find out that several people at the conference knew this as my only blog, even though I had always been under the impression that easternblot is more popular. It’s read by more people outside of science, and I can track who links to me. That’s how I found out that one of easternblot’s regular readers is David Pescovitz of BoingBoing, and I mentioned this as well. Once in a while he’ll re-link something I wrote about on my blog, and give me credit at the bottom of the post. BoingBoing is huge, and even though less than 1% of its visitors actually click that little credit link, I do get traffic from it.

I haven’t been tracking my traffic at easternblot recently, but I just found this on FriendFeed (which I hadn’t really been following either, so I could so easily have missed this whole thing!)

What? What’s going on? People talking about me on the internet? Must find out more!

I clicked through to Irradiatus’ Twitter stream to see what he had said

Hey, that’s a cool coincidence in itself!

Irradiatus, by the way, was also at ScienceOnline09, and is lined up for a science/music interview for my third blog.

But what does this have to do with my easternblot blog, you may wonder.
I clicked back to Neil’s Twitter stream to find the relevant message.

It’s posted to his Twitter stream automatically from FriendFeed, where it was added as a “shared” item in Google Reader from one of the RSS feeds he subscribed to.

And following that link took me to this BoingBoing post from today, about the gig posters I first showed on easternblot, after they were added by the artist to a group pool I run on Flickr, specifically for artsy pictures of science in action and/or science/art pictures.

The internet is not as big and scary as it looks. It’s kind of like Toronto: pretending to be a big city, but secretly just a network of tiny little towns, in which everyone knows everyone else.

I recently went to a jazz concert in Toronto, to interview a regular from the audience for an article I’m writing. Having never been there before, I figured I’d have to approach a stranger, but I found my next door neighbour in the audience, who introduced me to his friend, and I also recognized the girl who organized the event from my old orchestra. That’s how Toronto works, and that’s how the internet works as well. It isn’t scary. Just stick/click around for a while and you’ll see the same people pop up all over the place.

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Bora Zivkovic January 22, 2009 - 3:13 AM

What I really like is that clock from Dec.31st on easternblot. I keep wanting to post it on my blog, for obvious reasons…

Kristi Vogel January 22, 2009 - 3:23 AM

Those gig posters are fantastic, Eva. Such an interesting change from the usual dull, haphazardly-designed ones.
But I still think the internet is big and scary. 😉

Daniel Brown January 22, 2009 - 4:02 AM

That’s a nice winding string of interconnections.
It’s amazing how much MORE interconnected it all seems since attending the ScienceOnline09 conference. The science blogging community now seems like a simultaneously much larger and much smaller place.
By the way, it doesn’t seem I can change my profile name to “Irradiatus.” I’m outing myself here, apparently. LOL. Good luck googling “Daniel Brown.”

Bora Zivkovic January 22, 2009 - 4:10 AM

What I found impressive are the people who came to gave talks at UNC as seen on the gig posters!!! Those are some real hot-shots!

Eva Amsen January 22, 2009 - 4:12 AM

_”Good luck googling “Daniel Brown.””_
You’re a criminal defense lawyer in Toronto, and a real-estate agent in Virginia, and you were born in Scotland in 1740!

Daniel Brown January 22, 2009 - 4:14 AM

Actually, only two of those are me.

Bora Zivkovic January 22, 2009 - 4:54 AM

A very, very old and extremely experienced criminal defense lawyer in Toronto?

Viviane Callier January 22, 2009 - 3:06 PM

Hi there,
Just wanted to drop you a line to say that I’ve been reading your blog! And yes, it _is_ interesting how interconnected we really are (without necessarily realizing it). Sometimes I wonder if the science community/ies are particularly interconnected — it certainly feels that way to me but I can’t say exactly why. I’m sure there are people out there studying the structure of social networks that could shed light on this though.

Eva Amsen January 22, 2009 - 8:47 PM

I think the science community probably _is_ more connected, because people tend to do short stints (postdocs, PhDs) in other countries and keep in touch with people. So within a certain field people might be connected with others in different countries, but at the same time they are also connected to their colleagues at the same institutions.
And there are indeed studies of social networks that looked at this. The “Erdos number”:http://www.oakland.edu/enp/ is a particular example of connections within mathematics. And on that site I found “this”:http://www.oakland.edu/enp/research.html link about collaboration in science. There is also a great book called “Six Degrees”:http://www.amazon.com/Six-Degrees-Duncan-Watts/dp/0393325423 about networks and connections within certain groups of people but also connections within other systems (I love this book a _lot_ )

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