I've been having a bit of a crisis concerning the "to blog, or not to blog" question in the context of my currently academic career. Of the three junior faculty members I've spoken with on the subject (aside from my supervisor who is less junior..) they all unanimously agree that:
- Blogging about a good idea before it is published is a waste of time because:
- someone will steal it and claim it as their own
- you won't get any credit for it anyway until you republish it in a proper (peer-reviewed) journal
- the whole peer-review cycle is actually an extremely useful mechanism for improving the content of published work and it is just plain wrong (and arrogant) to skip it.
- blogging is more about self-promotion than about the distribution of ideas
Well you know what.. I'm just going to do it anyway and see what happens!
I think these ideas are flawed by the misconception that anyone wants or thinks that blogs will replace peer-reviewed journals in science. To me they are a natural way to collate and communicate my thoughts as they happen - which is a completely different purpose than sharing the results of an experiment (thought or otherwise) with my peers. If someone "steals" one of my ideas, they will still have to go through the pain of actually conducting the experiment or building the model before they can publish anything on it anyway. In the meantime, the other 99% of the people that actually bother to read what I write will likely have helped me come to a better understanding of it - quickly pushing me back ahead of those terrifying intellectual thieves feared to be lurking on the other side of the Google one way mirror, just waiting to scoop a flowering idea (career..) out of the ground before it starts.
So here you go - This presentation describes (in not very much detail) what I am currently up to in the areas of open social systems designed to grow the semantic web (knowledge gardening) and automatic ontology evaluation.