Best Science Writing Online in 2012
Scientific American / Farrar, Straus and Giroux, September 2012" data-pin-do="buttonBookmark">
Best Science Writing Online in 2012
Scientific American / Farrar, Straus and Giroux, September 2012 Image: Scientific American / Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Join us below at Noon Eastern time on Tuesday, September 18 for a live 30-minute online chat about the year's best science blog posts. The chat will feature SA blogs editor Bora Zivkovic (who blogs for us at A Blog Around the Clock, among other places on our network) and SA blogger Jennifer Ouellette (who blogs for us at Cocktail Party Physics). They will discuss today's publication of The Best Science Writing Online 2012, aka The Open Laboratory 2010, by Scientific American/Farrar, Straus & Giroux. We invite you to submit questions in advance in the comments section at the bottom of this page.
Here is the book's blurb on Amazon.com:
"Showcasing more than fifty of the most provocative, original, and significant online essays from 2011, The Best Science Writing Online 2012 will change the way we think about science— from fluids to fungi, poisons to pirates. Featuring noted authors and journalists as well as the brightest up-and-comers writing today, this collection provides a comprehensive look at the fascinating, innovative, and trailblazing scientific achievements and breakthroughs of 2011, along with elegant and thoughtprovoking new takes on favorite topics. This is the sixth anthology of online essays edited by Bora Zivkovic, the blogs editor at Scientific American, and with each new edition, Zivkovic expands his fan base and creates a surge of excitement about upcoming compilations. Now everyone’s favorite collection will reach new horizons and even more readers. Guest-edited and with an introduction by the renowned science author and blogger Jennifer Ouellette, The Best Science Writing Online 2012 marries cutting-edge science with dynamic writing that will inspire us all."
During the chat, Zivkovic, Ouellette and others involved in the Open Lab anthologies for the past six years will be available to answer your questions about how the finalists were selected from an initial 720 entries, what made the 51 finalists entries stand out and what else is new in science blogging in 2012.
It's not too late to submit entries for considering in Open Lab 2013. The deadline is October 1.
sciam_live: This is Robin Lloyd, Scientific American's news editor. I'll formally introduce the chat in 1-2 minutes.
BoraZ: Hello, everyone.
Lee Billings: Hey there!
BoraZ: All the most important links explaining #openlab12 here, at the bottom (scroll down): http://t.co/fxjjO7hq
Davidmanly: Greetings folks!
TheFebrileMuse: Hello, and thank you for everything!
sciam_live: Hi, Lee. Hi Aatishb. Let's get started. Welcome to today's #sciamchat. We'll be talking with Bora Zivkovic and Jennifer Ouellette, who edited The Best Science Writing Online 2012.
BoraZ: #openlab12 comes out today - learn more about it and its history here: http://t.co/OpbygHjf
sciam_live: Bora is "the blogfather," :), SciAm's blogs editor, and has edited the past six editions of The Open Laboratory: The Best Science Writing. He blogs at "A Blog Around the Clock," part of the Scientific American blog network, and beyond. http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/a-blog-around-the-clock/
RobRDunn: Howdy y'all.
sciam_live: Our second guest is Jennifer Ouellette, a science writer who blogs at http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/cocktail-party-physics/. Jennifer is part of the SciAm blogs network too and edited The Best Science Writing Online 2012, along with Bora. I'm Robin Lloyd, Scientific American's news editor. I'll be introducing and hosting this chat.
KateClancy: Hi all!
sciam_live: So Bora, let's get started. Please tell us what The Open Laboratory: The Best Science Writing Online is all about.
BoraZ: It started as a way to involve Lulu.com as a sponsor for the very first ScienceOnline conference. It grew into a beautiful annual project. It became one of the community binding projects, helping new bloggers and writers see and be seen, included in the community. Lulu.com is a print-on-demand publisher based in Raleigh, NC. They published the first five books. I am very excited to move to the next stage, publishing the sixth anthology with FSG. This will bring the book to a much larger audience, we hope, and show the world how wonderful online science writers are.
sciam_live: I see. Yes, Scientific American and FSG have a book publishing imprint now and it's a nice vehicle for The Open Lab now. Here is more on all the FSG books including The Open Laboratory http://books.scientificamerican.com/fsg/.
sciam_live: (Jennifer Ouellette will join us shortly. We are working on a tech issue that is delaying her participation. Sorry.)
ricardipus: I'm curious to know how long it took Bora and Jennifer to plow through all 720-odd submissions?
GavinHub: Hello! so, what sort of things were you looking for to go into this anthology? How did you whittle down the 720?
Aatishb: And I'm wondering about how this project has evolved over the years. Certainly more submissions, but how about content?
BoraZ: As a community effort, all entries are judged by a panel of writers and bloggers. Jennifer shepherded the process. The number of submissions is rising over the years, but I think quality is as well. People know what we are aiming for. Also, I think science blogosphere has evolved, and there is so much more good writing out there now compared to six years ago.
Davidkroll: Honored to have been a judge this year. Far more difficult than in past years!
TheFebrileMuse: My local bookstore now has it...that is a plus for the new publishing process...right?
I'll take a photo and post on twitter...after this chat, of course.
Easternblot: Oh wow, I didn't know it was in actual bookstores. Would love a photo of a book on a shelf there.
MaryByrnes1: Will it be available in ebook format?
Amsciam: There were some questions about e-book availability--yes, the collection is available in e- form!
Aatishb: It is already available on Kindle via amazon, I believe.
Alexreshanov: I sort of love the idea of online writing going to ebook form. It's like The Producers going from film to play to film.
sciam_live: We have 73 folks on this chat page right now.
Jessicawapner: Hi Robin, Bora and all. Do you feel that books like this sort of...help elevate online writing? Is that part of your goal?
BoraZ: Jessica: yes, I think the anthology has influenced writers/bloggers, gives them templates, goals to strive for, examples to read.
sciam_live: Hi Jessica. Yes, I think such anthologies help to bring awareness to science and to science writing.
Davidmanly: Have you considered sending copies to schools?
KateClancy: Ooh, David, I like that idea!
Davidmanly: Thanks Kate! I know some schools that are starved for science articles for students to read, learn and dissect.
Jessicawapner: It's a great idea about schools. I didn't even know science writing was a thing one could do in life until, well, very recently.
TheFebrileMuse: I'm donating a copy to local library...they have an amazing science section.
Ricardipus: @TheFebrileMuse - donating a copy to the library - excellent idea!
I will donate a couple of copies to local libraries and schools as well.
Kimberly_Gerson: I agree with David Manly. This would be an excellent resource for students to see breadth of science writing.
Easternblot: Not a question, but just want to say thanks to all the judges. I was a judge in 2010 - it's hard work!
BoraZ: People who want to be included next year, carefully read the past editions to see what kind of writing our judges consider good.
sciam_live: Hi easternblot. What is involved in judging? Any details that you can share?
TheFebrileMuse: @alexreshanov....me too...very exciting discoveries.
sciam_live: Are there any writers chatting here now who have work included in this year's The Open Laboratory?
Davidmanly: I wrote an article for the SciAm Guest Blog that is in this edition of the book. My piece was about twins and the difficulty involved in seeking an individual identity.
sciam_live: Congrats, David. What is url for that guest blog post so we can share w/everyone now in chat?
Kimberly_Gerson: I have a piece in this year's book. My piece about the death of a wolf: Romeo: A Lone Wolf‚Äôs Tragedy in Three Acts - http://bit.ly/Ic1WOW.
Davidmanly: @Kimberly_Gerson LOVED that piece
Kimberly_Gerson: @davidmanly Thank you! I'm really pleased it made the cut.
TheFebrileMuse: @Kimberly...I LOVED your piece...so sad, tragic...great writing.
Aatishb: Yes, I have a piece included, on the physics/biology of swimming sperm :) http://www.empiricalzeal.com/2011/07/14/what-it-feels-like-for-a-sperm/. My post is about what it feels like for a sperm, or how incredibly hard it is for a microbe to get around.
.@aatishb that sounds like a really creative approach. Looking forward to reading it.
@Kimberly_Gerson Thanks, look forward to reading your piece as well.
Laelaps: Just thought I'd stop in an say hello with the other authors. http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2011/12/repost-the-dodo-is-dead-long-live-the-dodo/ - how we're only just getting to know the dodo (sorry that got cut off!)
Alexreshanov: Also, hi all! And yes to the writing question. http://blogusscientificus.blogspot.com/2011/06/shakes-on-plane-can-turbulence-kill-you.html
Easternblot: @sciam_live I have an article in this year's edition. http://easternblot.net/2011/07/13/make-history-not-vitamin-c/
LeeBillings: I've got a piece in the book, yes. http://boingboing.net/2011/02/11/incredible-journey-c.html - about the difficulties of interstellar travel.
Ricardipus: @sciam_live - Me, @TheFebrileMuse, @Easternblot, @Laelaps... loads of authors on here, sorry I don't know you all.
TheFebrileMuse: I have a tiny piece in the anthology. http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/2011/09/07/tinea-speaks-upa-fairy-tale/
MiriamGoldste: I'm an author in this year's anthology & I'm listening in here too.
KateClancy: Here's my piece on menstruation on my SciAm blog: http://bit.ly/oHwIxN
Davidmanly: @KateClancy I remember reading that article! Fantastic and I sent it around :)
KateClancy: @davidmanly Thanks :). Yours is great too!
TheFebrileMuse: Kate...I read your piece and thought about the book The Red Tent.
KateClancy: @TheFebrileMuse Cool!
RobRDunn: I have a piece in the book. I run this lab yourwildlife.org at NCSU *and write.
edyong209: My post. http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/notrocketscience/2011/06/08/the-renaissance-man-how-
BoraZ: Six years ago, 'blog' was a funny word, made fun of in op-eds. The book was a showcase of how good science writing online really is.
sciam_live: Bora, what were some of the stand-outs this year, topic-wise? Any new trends?
BoraZ: I think diversity of topics, forms, formats...is the strength of the anthology, getting better each year.
From poems and cartoons to personal views, to detail dissections of papers or controversies. I really like to think of it as a whole that is bigger than a sum of its parts.
RobRDunn: It is certainly more varied in form than the 'best of' books derived from just print sources tend to be.
sciam_live: Welcome if you are just joining us. We are talking about the launch today of The Open Lab: The Best Science Writing Online 2012. You can find more info about the book here: http://books.scientificamerican.com/fsg/
sciam_live: Writers, Bora -- what kinds of experiments, new forms, are you trying out these days in your writing about science?
Easternblot: New forms - I made a comic recently. It's harder than writing...
KateClancy: @sciam_live Mostly I write long-form, and I like to mix in narrative and historical context along with the science.
TheFebrileMuse: I wanted to tell a story, with the passion that I have when I read a picture book to one of my kids.
BoraZ: Bloggy style is more freewheeling, no fear of looking too silly, or funny or personal. Works great for readers on an emotional level
LeeBillings: I haven't been trying much that's terribly new -- but the other entries give plenty of novel inspiration.
MiriamGoldste: @sciam_live I'm actually calling people up & interviewing them, journalist-style. :)
Davidmanly: @sciam_live Most mid-long form, but primarily use narrative to discuss, describe and educate about science
@sciam_live Trying to mix up the best (most enjoyable) elements of feature, news and column writing.
ricardipus: Mine was two blogposts combined into one... (1) Genome Sequencing, Shakespeare Style http://occamstypewriter.org/irregu. http://occamstypewriter.org/irregulars/2010/12/11/genome-sequencing-shakespeare-style/ and http://occamstypewriter.org/irregulars/2010/12/31/genome-assembly-a-primer-for-the-shakespeare-fan/.
Jessicawapner: @sciam_live great to see all these links & love that i can read in print. all very inspiring. congrats to all contributors to #openlab12.