This is an amateur blog.

October 12, 2009 • 11:18 am

by Greg Mayer

Matthew has brought to my attention an article in Evolution: Education and Outreach by Adam Goldstein that mentions the WEIT blog. It’s apparently addressed to a curiously naive audience, taking great care to explain what a “blog” is, and how the word “post” is both a noun and a verb, and that bloggers often provide “links”, and much more in that vein. It’s curious in another way, too, calling WEIT an anonymous blog, deducing that Jerry is the author only from subtle cues, and the fact that PZ Myers has referred to the blog’s author as Jerry (actually, the Myers post he cites is about the book, and predates the start of the blog). Goldstein must have missed the “About the Author” link up over there to the right.

Besides characterizing what blogs are (and mis-characterizing them a bit, too: as the Darwinius case made clear, posting to the web does not constitute scientific publication), he also classifies blogs as being “professional,” “amateur,” “apostolic,” or “imaginative.” WEIT is “amateur”, but that’s a good thing in his classification. Goldstein says about amateur blogs that

…blogs of this variety are superior to those of other varieties for the purpose of explaining evolutionary science… Those who create the blogs in this category are not amateur scientists; indeed, most are experienced research professionals. Nonetheless, they are not professional bloggers, and their blogs present them with an opportunity to take a lighter, less formal approach to the topics they know and love. For this reason, many posts to blogs in this category are highly informative expository essays on a range of topics in evolutionary science.

I also learned from the article about a bunch of evolution-oriented blogs I didn’t know about (including one by people I know!). PZ is classified as “apostolic”; I’m sure he’ll appreciate the religious terminology!

Of more general interest is that the whole journal, which began publishing in 2008, is available free online, at least through the end of this year. Go take a look.

11 thoughts on “This is an amateur blog.

  1. It could seem an anonymous blog to people not familiar with the whole dispute.

    The bit about it being an amateur blog is reasonable as explained, and I agree that they’re probably preferable on the whole. More personality that way.

    No bad publicity, anyway.

    Glen Davidson

  2. I did not care for the Goldstein’s article. The author spends the first five pages mostly stating the obvious, as if the reader is just off the spaceship from Neptune.

    His categories are arbitrary and capricious and he did not do proper research into the ones he mentioned. There are missing blogs that talk about evolution, the most conspicuous being

    He can treat Twitter as micro-blogging but anyone who can think knows better.

      1. Except for all the videos posted that are on Richard Dawkins and filmed by Josh Timonen and the dozens of interviews that RD has given. Those are the ones under ‘featured’.

      2. Yes; the Dawkins site really isn’t a blog, it’s much more than that, as well as less. It does a lot more things than a blog does, and there isn’t really any actual blogging.

        I speak from experience: my site (Butterflies and Wheels) is often called a blog but it’s much more than a blog (it has original articles as well as a news aggregator and a good many other items), although it does include a blog.

        Not that it matters. Just being pedantic.

  3. “Some of the posts in this section are so strongly worded that this blog bears some characteristics of blogs in the “Apostolic” category”

    No doubt Goldstein is referring to posts by “the anonymous blogger.”

  4. I wish you’d use a different theme or develop this one better so that indivual authors are actually identified and linked, rather than every author appearing as “whyevolutionistrue” once you open a full post. I’d love to be able to click an author link and actually see all articles by a particular author.

    1. All blog posts are by Jerry, except those that are signed at the top by myself or Greg. You can find our contributions (should you wish to do so!) by searching for our names preceded by “by”.

      1. For comments which I sometimes make while logged in as the site administrator, I always put “GCM” at the bottom. If there’s possible confusion, between us, Jerry will sometimes put his initials (JAC) too.

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