Academic feats of daring

When I was part of the Read group, we were required to make periodic blog posts mainly towards the goal of improving our writing abilities. I greatly enjoyed reading the blog, and occasionally, writing blog posts, so I campaigned Nicole to start a Mideo lab blog. Opinions are mixed on the costs versus benefits of science blogging. The benefits are that blog posts can be fun to read and to write, and that it can inspire us to research a topic outside our main focus that we would otherwise ignore. The cost is mainly terror: unlike writing papers, which get vetted by coauthors and reviewers before being unleashed upon the world, blog posts are not peer-reviewed, and some folks worry a lot about publicly voicing poorly-developed ideas whose logic may ultimately prove to be highly-questionable. However, there are risks to other academic pursuits as well—-my friend Eleanore has described giving talks as a form of “academic bungee jumping”, and that certainly encompasses the anxiety I feel before a talk as well as the exhilaration of a talk that has gone well. So science blogging can be viewed as a similar feat of daring: it could turn out to be a lot of fun, or at least character-building. And in contrast to more typical feats of daring, it’s unlikely to result in physical injury.