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Ideas for a geology blog carnival: Part 2

August 21, 2007

To all those with earth science-rich blogs,

The success of science blog carnivals such as The Boneyard (paleontology/paleobiology), Tangled Bank (variety of biology-related topics including ecology, evolution, and genetics), and Carnival of the Blue (ocean sciences) makes me yearn for a geology-focused carnival.

So….I’m hoping that this post can serve as a place to bounce ideas around and get the first edition of this carnival up and running. For example, should we have a ‘theme’? Do we want it to focus on a particular topic? Or do we want to highlight the breadth? Does anyone have a good idea for a name? A logo? Do we want a separate blog site, or should we just take turns hosting it?

Let the ideas flow…..hopefully we can reach some consensus and get the inaugural edition, which I can host here, up soon.

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18 Comments leave one →
  1. Alessia Maggi permalink
    August 19, 2007 11:37 pm

    Hi Brian,

    great idea to set up a geology / earth science carnival. I’ve been thinking for some time that there ought to be one.

    I would rather the breadth be wide than narrow, at least to start with. Then if you get various sub-groups of articles submitted you can alternate the themes / topics.

    A name suggestion off the top my head: “Earth as we know it”. I’m sure you can do better, though.

    As for hosting, I rather like the idea of taking turns. It spreads the visibility out a bit.

    Good luck with the project – and you can count me in!

  2. Thermochronic permalink
    August 20, 2007 4:02 am

    Perhaps it is my blog-ignorance, but could someone explain exactly what a blog carnival is? I’ve seen them and it seems like it has something to do with a collection of like-timed posts, but that is about all I’ve figured out. I am sure I’m up for joining, even if I am relegated to the carnival feakshow.

  3. olelog permalink
    August 20, 2007 5:24 am

    Sorry, my comment seems to have disappered in cyberspace – or you received it several times, for which my sincere excuse.

    Just to let you know that I support your initiativ, but otherwise have no bright ideas.

    Good luck.

    Ole

  4. Brian permalink
    August 20, 2007 6:35 am

    T-chronic…yeah, that’s all a ‘carnival’ is really. A collection of posts about one topic by multiple bloggers. Usually linked through at one site and announced/released to the rest of community. I’m not sure where the name came from….the first one was likely called a carnival of something.

  5. Laelaps permalink
    August 20, 2007 7:49 am

    Excellent idea, Brian! I actually had been hoping that the success of The Boneyard would help get an earth sciences carnival going, especially since there are so many good geo-blogs out there.

  6. Ron Schott permalink
    August 20, 2007 9:33 pm

    Like Thermochronic, I’ve generally been ignorant of the motivation/mechanics of blog carnivals, though I’ve been periforally aware of their existence. Obviously, therefore, I have no strong feelings about topical scope or hosting preference, but I’m also game to give it a try if you want to organize one.

    Ron

    P.S. I guess I do have one thought on the topic area issue – you probably don’t want to leave it too broad or we carnival newbies might lack sufficient guidance/motivation to make a special contribution.

  7. Brian permalink
    August 20, 2007 9:59 pm

    It seems like there are two main aspects to carnivals … (1) a collection of posts for the reader, a one-stop shopping, and (2) a congregation for the bloggers to interact

    I guess I would agree w/ Alessia (comment#1) that we might want to have a broad scope for the first one…but, at the same time, I see Ron’s point. If the first edition were to be rather broad, then we could simply have disciplines being highlighted (e.g., seismology, geochronology, structural geology, and so on). I don’t know…is that too boring?

    And I also like the idea of taking turns hosting…that will drive people to other’s blogs that they may not have known about previously.

  8. Alessia Maggi permalink
    August 20, 2007 11:06 pm

    I see Ron’s point about not making the theme too broad, so as to focus bloggers’ efforts more and to make the carnival more interesting for readers.

    How about proposing themes which are inherently multi-disciplinary? For example, we could focus on geographical regions, digging up what is known/interesting about them as seen from our different disciplines. That way we can all participate, and may even come up with some new ideas.

    I would suggest that carnival posters that cite or intend to cite peer review research take a look at BPR3 for the latest blogger driven initiative to highlight and federate such “serious science” posts.

    Other less serious themes could be to do with aspects the life lead by earth scientists which is different from that of other scientists, for example fieldwork anecdotes.

    If we decide to go-ahead with the carnival, we ought to try to advertise it some, so as to get a good batch of posts for the first issue, and then hopefully some momentum for later issues.

  9. Kent permalink
    August 21, 2007 1:31 am

    Thermochronic/Ron,

    The way I’ve seen most carnivals operate is that a blogger announces they will be posting/hosting a carnival at such and such a date a few weeks in advance, and invites people to email them posts others have made which might suit the theme. The host also obviously goes looking for suitable posts.

    Then you get the carnival post which (I’d suggest) is kept pretty broad so everyone is interested. Better to have too much material than too little – it serves to draw peoples’ interest to areas they wouldn’t normally read about. Then the baton passes to another blogger to host the next one.

    Things might have changed in the last year, but I suspect that’s still the best way of doing it.

    Ideally the community a carnival serves is large enough such that each host brings some different sites to the event each month, and people find new (to them) and interesting blogs.

    In my experience, also, you don’t want them to be too often – so often the next carnival has come when I’m still busy reading posts from the last one (I’d suggest a month at minimum as a healthy interval, and to delay for a little while if posts are thin on the ground). Neither is it too healthy (IMNSHO) to have people always writing posts deliberately for the carnival. BUT, I think the geology community in particular needs no encouragement to write longer/more focused/more interesting posts (which is generally the result carnivals indirectly have) – the quality around here is already staggeringly good! Brian’s geoblogosphere-ticker is like a carnival in motion.

    Ron, as for your concern about carnivals being too broad – try not to think of it as contributing to a specific carnival (eg conference abstracts), but the general land o’blog (eg the literature at large). And you don’t want to isolate people by being too selective. Keep it earthy, and we’ll all be happy I suspect!

    I say go for it :)

  10. Thermochronic permalink
    August 21, 2007 5:15 am

    I like the idea of picking a geographical region as a carnival topic, something all sorts of earth scientists could potentially contribute to.

  11. Ron Schott permalink
    August 21, 2007 6:44 am

    You all know how much I love Google Earth, so Alessia’s suggestion (echoed by Thermochronic) to use a geographical region as a theme strikes me as an excellent suggestion. Riffing on that theme, perhaps we could also consider spans of geologic time as another possible organizing theme (e.g., Cretaceous Carnival, Cenozoic Carnival, etc.).

    Kent seems to be far more familiar with the workings of carnivals than I am, but I have to respectfully differ with him on one point. I fear that if we simply call a broad carnival and aggregate posts from all over the geoblogosphere it differs little from what my Google Reader Geology Link Blog already does. I, for one, could use the motivation of focusing on a selected theme to spur my geologic blogging.

    Anyhow, that’s my two cents. I’ll be eager to see how it works in any case, so I agree with the others… Go for it, Brian.

  12. Brian permalink
    August 21, 2007 8:35 am

    Okay, we got some good discussion going.

    I too like the idea of the focus being on a geographical region or a time…that is a good idea. The beauty of the blogosphere is that people of many disciplines are coming together…so, it would likely work against that to try and focus on particular disciplines. The region and time aspect are two ways to keep all disciplines engaged. If you look at the other science carnivals I noted, they are pretty broad.

    Another idea, potentially for future carnivals, would be Alessia’s suggestion about field/lab work stories. We could also have a carnival about Earth hazards, or other topics where Earth science intersects with the general public (esp. when something is all over the news).

    I think Kent is right on w/ his perspective of what the carnival is all about. While we do want to highlight the writing and the topic(s), it is also very much about exposing each other to other blogs (and hopefully all of us gaining some readers outside our community).

    I guess I would view the carnival as somewhere in between the generic geo tickers many of us have and a much more specific ‘call for abstracts’. We certainly aren’t trying to be a hardcore technical session, but the carnival style puts more attention on the aggregation of posts than an automated ticker. I have been looking at the BPR3 initiative a little bit…it is still in its infancy, but we should keep an eye on it.

    The job of the host is to not only physically host the links to the posts, but also provide some context.

    So, what do we have so far:

    - frequency: about one carnival per month (i think that’s perfect, but am open)

    - topic(s): ideally, striking a balance between focus (e.g., region, time period) and breadth of disciplines

    - name/logo: we need to work on this

    At this point, let’s see if we get some more input over the next few days from the other geo-bloggers. In the meantime, if we are to pick a region for the first carnival, what should it be?

  13. CJR permalink
    August 23, 2007 7:59 am

    Hi Brian, sorry for the delayed feedback on this…

    The real misgiving I’ve always had about a geology carnival in the sense of the Tangled Bank is the much smaller pool of blogs to cull posts from. There are literally hundreds of life sciences blogs out there, which makes a carnival format a great way to highlight high-quality posts that people might initially have missed. In comparison, there are a relative handful of active earth science blogs, and – thanks to innovations like link blogs and side bar tickers – not only is there less stuff to sift through, but it also generally gets brought to your attention the first time around. I’ve hosted Philosophia Naturalis a couple of times, and much as I would have liked to plug my own domain of the physical sciences both times I was made aware of how small our footprint currently is in the blogosphere (although I’d like to think it was made by a very finely tailored foot).

    I do, however, see considerable potential in the topic/region of the month idea. Such a focus would make our small numbers less of a disadvantage, because we’d be writing a post specifically for the purpose of inclusion; and I think it would be very interesting to demonstrate the vast number of different disciplines and tools wielded by geology – which is, after all, one of the things which makes it so interesting. We might even to be able to ask experts in particular regions to contribute guest posts, which could maybe in the long-term garner more recruits from our interweb-phobic compatriots. Most importantly, it has novelty – we’d be trying something a little different, and that could get a lot of attention.

    Anyway, I’m definitely willing to get involved – title-wise, we could always go the faux academic route and call it ‘The Journal of Geological Blogging’ or somesuch…

  14. Brian permalink
    August 23, 2007 8:53 am

    Chris…thanks for chiming in…I knew you would have some thoughts to contribute to this discussion. You make some good points regarding the size of our community relative to others.

    In another day or two, I will update this post one more time with a summary of the ideas put forth here.

    Perhaps a few more geo-bloggers who are reading this (I know you’re there!), even if they don’t necessarily have input regarding the format, can simply say that they would participate. Then we’ll have an idea of the numbers bloggers who might be involved.

  15. Thermochronic permalink
    August 23, 2007 2:01 pm

    Another potential topic is “my favorite thermochronologist”, I bet we’d get a lot of submissions with that.

  16. Kim permalink
    August 24, 2007 12:41 pm

    Maybe a carnival of stories from fieldwork would be good sometime soon, because field season is wrapping up for a lot of Northern Hemisphere geoscientists right now? The blogosphere seems to me to be a place for sharing things that fall outside the bounds of publishable research, as well as a place to tell the rest of the world about geology in the news.

  17. coturnix permalink
    August 24, 2007 7:31 pm

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blog_Carnival

    http://scienceblogs.com/clock/2006/09/convergesouth05_blog_carnivals.php

    Just avoid having the word “carnival” in the title….and let me know when the thing starts so I cam promote it.

  18. Brian permalink
    August 25, 2007 1:05 am

    yes…i agree…we won’t use “carnival”

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