by Judith Curry
I’m not very good at remembering birthdays or anniversaries. This amnesia extends to my own birthday and anniversaries, and I was reminded of this when I spotted this post at Jean Goodwin’s blog: Happy Birthday, Climate Etc.!
So happy one year anniversary to the Denizens, and of course, moi. This anniversary provides the opportunity for some reflection.
What were my expectations a year ago, and how have they changed? I originally envisioned doing one thorough post per week on a scientific topic, sort of a mini-assessment (e.g. my hurricane post), with discussion threads on newsy items. Well, the real world in terms of too many demands on my time got in the way of of developing posts for the blog with a lot of original content from me. I have a backlog of 36 posts that I have started but haven’t finished, my topic selection has been more pragmatic in terms of topic selection (what lands in my email box or I encounter googling around) and something that I can prepare in less than 45 minutes.
The number of hits and comments (and type of comments) on various topics and types of threads has also had a feedback effect on what I post. My in depth thorough analyses generated relatively few hits and comments. Also, my explorations of the social science and communication aspects draw few comments or hits, although they have attracted some very interesting people here from whom I have learned much. People seem most interested in any controversy surrounding high-profile personalities, discussion threads on timely and high profile topics, and essays that are critical of the IPCC. The basic physics of the greenhouse effect also has an enduring appeal as a discussion topic, which is the topic that has generated by far the most comments of any category.
So at this point I see my role as more of a “talk show host”, picking provocative topics to discuss, with the main point most often the actual discussion of the “guests.”
The community of Denizens has also evolved over time, including the number of participants and the specific individuals that have come and gone, and also a maturing of the more active Denizens that have been active participants from the inception. The arguments are better, there is less tolerance for flame wars (remember the heady days of ianash), and we have a more balanced participation in terms of convinced/consensus versus skeptical perspectives.
So what am I getting out of this personally? Well, first, it is a lot of fun, I very much enjoy the dialogue (well most of the time anyways, sometimes it gets out of hand). I have personally learned a lot, and have particularly appreciated the astute comments and suggestions on my papers and presentations. And most importantly, the blog has motivated me to explore more widely the multiple dimensions of the climate issue. While some have little tolerance for my forays into communication and the social sciences, I suspect that the blog would have been less successful if I had not been paying attention what communication and social science experts have to say.
I originally envisioned more guest posts from climate scientists. That hasn’t happened. I’ve invited a number of people to do a guest post, invariably they say they would like too, but are too busy right now, maybe later. I’m hoping that the increased emphasis in our field on communication and engagement will motivate other scientists to blog. I will add that many climate scientists that I’ve encountered at meetings, etc. tell me that they are avid readers/lurkers of Climate Etc. One scientist at the NOAA meeting last week said that he regarded it as an essential resource for keeping up to date on and understanding all the politics and stuff surrounding the climate change issue. Also, whenever I do a post highlighting the work of an individual academic researcher, invariably I get an email later that day from that researcher thanking me for my post, providing some further comments, etc. This includes academics in Europe and also social scientists and philosophers that I’ve discussed here. While I suspect that few of these are regular readers, presumably they received an email from someone that was. Also, several academics are using the blog in their courses, not just climate change courses but on topics ranging from communication to conflict resolution(!). So there is some penetration of the blog into the academic world, which I am very pleased about.
And finally, I am very pleased at how my blogospheric experiment is working out. I feel that Climate Etc. is an honest place to have a fair argument over the science, policy, etc. issues surrounding climate change. I’m hoping that everyone is broadening their perspectives, challenging their own beliefs, and learning something. Learning something from a technical discussion on a blog is a different way from learning from a text book. It doesn’t replace text book learning, but it certainly enriches and develops understanding both for the technical minded and those that don’t have time or capacity for learning from sophisticated text books. I am particularly appreciative of those that have provided guest posts, or otherwise spend a lot of time here contributing their expertise to answering questions and discussing the issues in a substantive way.
Here’s to another year! I would appreciate any feedback or comments that you have re improving Climate Etc. Thanks to all of you for your continued participation.