I’m unsure whether I should be writing this as, frankly, there’s little I hate more than people talking about themselves – especially on a platform should be used to talk about something more interesting. But, it’s been playing on my mind, so bear with me.
This blog is new. It lacks direction, it’s not widely read. That’s fine. These things were acknowledged from the get-go as a necessity. ‘How can a blog know exactly what it’s supposed to say when it sets out?’ was my thinking, and just what I said to my co-poster, Harriet. She nodded and agreed. By letting the blog evolve over time it would find a purpose, right? We don’t need one to start with, no. What we needed was to be writing, in the public domain, telling people what we think and why we think it.
Err, except, I don’t really believe that. What is the point of a blog without a, um, point? A low readership will stay a low readership, and it’s not actually obvious to me how a blog will magically find direction, unless something sets it apart. This begs the question: why did we set this bloody thing up in the first place, then?
O the most basic level, I enjoy talking about science, and I want a career that lets me achieve that (to some greater or lesser extent, at least): to that end, I’m doing the MSc in Science Communication at Imperial. Being on that course makes me feel like I should be doing ‘stuff’. Writing, blogging, film-making, interviewing, web-design, science museum work, event planning; that kind of thing. Great, all that’s good experience. Not many of us blog, but some do. So, to get back to the question: why did we start this blog? To have a voice, I guess; to be noticed, heard, and valued. Maybe even employed.
The truth is, though, that none of our blogs (especially this one) are particularly well read, and I for one don’t have much confidence in actually posting, either. There’re a few reasons for my under confidence:
1. I’m in a state of flux. I’m not incredibly young (I’ve done a degree and PhD), but I’m young enough that my views aren’t set in stone. Especially leaning about the interaction between science, society and the media, I’m currently increasingly unsure what my take on a lot of stories. I don’t want to write something I don’t believe in, so my blog pots get watered down to the extent that they’re no longer interesting. Sometimes, they get so watered down I don’t bother posting them.
2. I’m put off by other blogs. It may sound immature, but plenty of people already blog about science, and have more time to do it than me. They get their stories written and on-line before I have chance, and have often written them much more persuasively than I currently can. It seems like a bit of a waste of my time to cover a topic that’s already been written about, and written about well.
3. I ‘m massively insecure. Let’s get this clear: I know I’m not stupid. I did a degree in engineering and a PhD in medical engineering, and am now doing another MSc. I’m not some arrogant polymath who thinks they can do it all, but I know a fair bit about science and can string a coherent sentence together. But… but… I get nervous writing publicly on topics I don’t know masses about, and I worry about making provocative statements that I might not be able to defend in the future.
4. It’s hard to be creative. Right, this last one sounds like a cop-out but, effectively, my argument is this: I’m doing a full time MSc, which requires me to be reading and writing a lot, and I teach undergrads, too. This leaves me with enough time to write a blog, yes. But to come up with a new, exciting angle, a niche in the market? Not really. It’s not that I can’t think creatively, but in an increasingly overcrowded market, it’s hard to think of an idea – even a thread of coherence – that can set one blog apart from the rest.
What does this mean, then? Essentially, I’ve found the ‘voice’ I was looking. That’s the easy bit: I have a wordpress account, I have a Twitter account. Trouble is, I don’t really have much to say. On Twitter, I listen to what other (older, wiser) sci-commers talk about; sometimes I ask questions, or challenge them on something, but not often. Essentially, I’m scared to. They all know more than me, what can I add to the debate? Anyone that chooses to argue that this is my own problem is, firstly, correct. Secondly, though, they must also associate with the problem. Everybody, absolutely everybody, gets nervous about entering into debate with people that are better informed and better respected than they, and If you can claim you don’t, you’re either stupid, or an absolute dick.
Basically, then, as far as I can tell, the idea of blogging or micro-blogging is great in theory, but an absolute waste of time if you have nothing constructive to say. At the moment, I feel like my voice is pretty worthless.