Great science reads for your holiday vacation

Traveling? Ignoring relatives? Sitting alone at home? Whatever your situation over the next couple of weeks, the 50 blog posts chosen for the Open Laboratory 2013 collection of best science writing online can help. The stories will all be available in an ebook later next year, but you can read them all online now.

The blogging family tree

"At the close of 1998, there were 23 known weblogs on the Internet. A year later there were tens of thousands. What changed?" [Mat Honan / Wired]

Blogger paid

In this video, blogger Duane Lester confronts the editor of a newspaper which plagiarized something he wrote. The best part is when the editor tries to physically intimidate him, a moment so inexplicable and hilarious I created a YouTube Infinite Loop of it for you.

There's a happy ending, though: he ultimately saw reason and paid Lester for the article.

How to Assert Copyright Over Your Work When It’s Been Plagiarized [All American Blogger via Jim Romenesko]

Blogging '76

Stephen Thompson's nonfiction project—publishing his 1976 high school journal as a blog and book—soon attracted the attention of a novelty book publisher. But he is instead kickstarting it, to ensure the right tone is kept: "my blog surprised me by really reaching out to a lot of people around the world who could relate, and I wanted to at least take a shot at raising the money to do it the way I saw it." Rob

Bloggers and students: Apply for Wellcome Trust Science Writing Prize

If you live in the UK or Ireland, write about science, and have not been paid for that work, then you are eligible to apply for the Wellcome Trust's Science Writing Prize. The Prize is aimed at fostering high quality writing among science communicators who are either just starting their careers, or who write mainly as a hobby. Student journalists are eligible. So are people who blog about science. There are separate categories for professional scientists, and interested laypeople. The deadline is April 25.

Behold! FWD, a new tech blog at Buzzfeed

Matt Buchanan and John W. Herrman started a new tech blog, FWD. Early delights include Herrman on why we sound so dumb when we talk about communications; Buchanan on the ever-increasing importance of software; and Mike Hayes on Sam Spratt's fantastic Facebook Timeline banners. Also, did you know that the secret to successful consumer technology is how good it feels in the hand?

The golden age of journalists noticing new blogs is over

Jeremiah Owyang writes that the golden age of blogging is over.

The reasons, in brief: many top blogs have sold out; staff turnover saw "star" voices slip off the radar; younger audiences like social networking more; and advertising revenue is increasingly hard to get at.

All the reasons given are true, but they're not reasons to believe that a golden age has passed. They're phenomena in their own right, each with its own story, and only the last presenting a barrier to entry for newcomers. Epochal change makes for an epic narrative, but all this adds up to a simpler truth: media is a tough game and you won't get far by copying what other people did years ago.

Read the rest

Boing Boing featured in anthology of best science writing on the Web

I am very pleased to announce that two BoingBoing posts made it into The Open Laboratory 2012, an anthology of the best science writing on the Internet.

The first was written by Lee Billings, an excellent guest blogger we hosted back in February. Lee wrote a lot of great posts about Kepler and the hunt for exoplanets and deserves huge kudos. Incredible Journey: Can We Reach the Stars Without Breaking the Bank? is the one that will be in the anthology.

Today, the fastest humans on Earth and in history are three elderly Americans, all of whom Usain Bolt could demolish in a footrace. They're the astronauts of Apollo 10, who in 1969 re-entered the Earth's atmosphere at a velocity of 39,897 kph upon their return from the Moon. At that speed you could get from New York to Los Angeles in less than six minutes. Seven years after Apollo 10, we hurled a probe called Helios II into an orbit that sends it swinging blisteringly deep into the Sun's gravity well. At its point of closest approach, the probe travels at almost 253,000 kph—the fastest speed yet attained by a manmade object. The fastest outgoing object, Voyager I, launched the year after Helios II. It's now almost 17 billion kilometers away, and travels another 17 kilometers further away each and every second. If it were headed toward Alpha Centauri (it's not), it wouldn't arrive for more than 70,000 years. Even then, it wouldn't be able to slow down. Of the nearest 500 stars scattered like sand around our own, most would require hundreds of thousands of years (or more) to reach with current technology.

Our second post is one of mine: Nuclear Energy 101: Inside the Black Box of Nuclear Power Plants. It's from our Fukushima coverage, and was published on March 12, a day after the nuclear reactors in Fukushima were damaged by an earthquake and tsunami.

For the vast majority of people, nuclear power is a black box technology. Radioactive stuff goes in. Electricity (and nuclear waste) comes out. Somewhere in there, we're aware that explosions and meltdowns can happen. Ninety-nine percent of the time, that set of information is enough to get by on. But, then, an emergency like this happens and, suddenly, keeping up-to-date on the news feels like you've walked in on the middle of a movie. Nobody pauses to catch you up on all the stuff you missed. As I write this, it's still not clear how bad, or how big, the problems at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant will be. I don't know enough to speculate on that. I'm not sure anyone does. But I can give you a clearer picture of what's inside the black box. That way, whatever happens at Fukushima, you'll understand why it's happening, and what it means.

Thanks to Open Laboratory editors Bora Zivkovic and Jennifer Ouellette. BoingBoing is honored to be included, and we're doubly happy to see the fine work of our guest bloggers recognized!

You can read all the posts that were selected. In fact, you should read them. They represent some truly wonderful work by journalists, scientists, and bloggers. Here's a link to the full list.

Om Malik reflects on a decade of blogging

"Blogging is not about opinion but it is about viewing the world in a certain way and sharing it with others how you look at things."

Sunset of a Blog


Photo: Rajeev Nair / Ill. Rob Beschizza.

Should we pity a once-popular blog when its time in the sun has come and gone? Not so much. I'm watching the sunset of a moderately high-traffic site I've run for a decade, and that seems the natural course of events. Like the hecatomb of evolution, many blogs rose and then were slaughtered in the crucible of viewer attention (and blogger interest). Those that survive are fitter—or at least live in areas with abundant page views.

A recent glance at my statistics put me in a funk, briefly, until I dashed through Kübler-Ross's five stages of grief, adapted for the fast-paced online age. Denial: The stats must be broken! Anger: This is an awesome site; everyone must be blind! Bargaining: Maybe if I do a redesign? Depression: All that effort, for naught. Acceptance: Hey, what's going on at Reddit?

Read the rest