by Judith Curry
Time to reflect on the blog.
I have been insanely busy since Dec 1. Particularly the last 3 months, I have had little time to spend on the blog, beyond cursory monitoring of comments and week-in-review style aggregation.
Finally, this week, I am facing the prospect of a summer with few deadlines and commitments, so I finally have time to actually think and write. Which has stimulated me to reflect on the state of the climate blogosphere and social media, and the near-term future of Climate Etc.
Reflections on the climate blogosphere and social media
Here are my impressions, sans any substantial analysis.
As recently as a few years ago, the blogosphere dominated the internet discussions on climate change, with WUWT, ClimateProgress, ClimateAudit, BishopHill, RealClimate, ClimateDepot dominating. ClimateProgress has been absorbed into the amorphous ThinkProgress. Both ClimateAudit and RealClimate have infrequently posted anything for the last few years. Recently, BishopHill has declared a ‘blogging stupor.’ WUWT and ClimateDepot continue to post frequently.
A few atmospheric scientists have blogs, notably Isaac Held, Ed Hawkins, Tamsin Edwards, Roy Spencer, Cliff Mass, Pat Michaels and Chip Knappenberger.
There are some new blogs on both sides of the debate. Sou of Boudanga and Greg Laden are blogging on the ‘alarmed’ side, with apparently a reasonable following. Update: How could I forget ATTP, probably the most significant new blog. There are a number of skeptic blogs that are still active, and a number of technical blogs (e.g. Paul Homewood, Clive Best). There are also a number of blogs that occasionally provide thoughtful posts on climate but have a broader purview, e.g. Matt Ridley, Don Aitkin, Fabius Maxiumus, A Chemist at Langley.
I would be interested in hearing about which other blogs the Denizens are following.
But overall, the role of climate blogs seems to be diminishing. Twitter has taken over as the dominate place of influence in the climate discussion, and ‘influence’ in the climate debate tends to be judged more often by someone’s influence on twitter. I find twitter to be an extremely useful source of information (i.e. providing web links to articles), but I rarely engage in actual discussions on twitter.
Facebook appears to be making a move, apparently through the discussion Groups, there seems to be a lot of posts and discussion.
Here is one piece of analysis. Looking at the wordpress.com sources of referrals for ‘hits’ to Climate Etc., historically the sources have been dominated (in order) by WUWT, Climate Audit, Climate Depot, BishopHill, with huge boosts from pjmedia or Mark Steyn when one of my articles gets mentioned. During the last quarter (not even the last year), Twitter jumped to the top. Over the last 30 days, twitter and Facebook are neck in neck (with ClimateDepot, BishopHill, rank exploits and WUWT in that order), and over the last 7 days Facebook has jumped to the top (by a significant margin). Note: I tweet and post on Facebook nearly all of my posts (but not the presidential discussion threads).
I think I now have a reasonable understanding of the dynamics of twitter, but not so sure about Facebook. I have an order of magnitude more followers on twitter than on Facebook, but I am now getting more blog ‘hits’ from Facebook?
I would be interested in your takes on the state of the online information/discussion about climate
So, with the prospect of a few months this summer when I have time to think and write, I’m trying to figure out what I want to tackle. I will continue with 1-2 week-in-review posts, if for no other reason that this is a useful way for me to index recent publications and articles (e.g. if I am writing a post on Antartica, I can just search the blog for ‘Antarctica’ to identify any recent articles). I will also keep a weekly or biweekly presidential politics discussion thread, if for no other reason than to divert comments away from the other threads.
I have a file of 95 draft posts on wordpress. I’ve also ‘pinned’ about 50 emails sent to me with potentially interesting essays. And this is not to mentioned things I’ve ‘favorited’ on twitter.
With regards to science topics, I am thinking of aggregating the articles topically, where I can provide some sort of integrated assessment. I am working on a post on clouds for next week. There are also a host of issues related to the sociology and politics of climate science. So, I am thinking of providing some sort of overview/assessment post once per week.
One of the biggest challenges I have is sorting through requests for a guest post (that are submitted via email). The decision is easy if the person has previously submitted a guest post and is a known quantity. The decision is also easy if the post is very poorly written. But in between are some posts that are well written and potentially interesting – I can easily filter out obvious crackpottery, but don’t have the time to carefully evaluate them. I am thinking of selecting groups of these for occasional posts, with a brief abstract and a link to the full article. This would allow some of these articles that pass a moderate filter to receive some exposure and discussion, without any endorsement by me. Your suggestions on this?
Also, I will be able to be more responsive in near real time to the ‘big’ papers or other events that are receiving media attention.
And finally, I am hoping for, and open to, your suggestions. Do we need a new Denizens thread? How about another ‘Skeptics: give it your best shot’ thread? Moderation policy?
Thanks again to all of you who read and comment at the blog, and post on twitter and Facebook. Special thanks to guest posters, and those who send me emails with links or original articles.