Ramblings about what I encounter within the realm of the geosciences, as well as the occasional rant about nonsense.

27 April 2009

Death of Print... Dead?

I just stumbled upon an interesting article in my Blog roll, click here for the link (original article here). The primary thrust of the article is the biased source of information pertaining to the 'printed journalism is dead' theme that recurs fairly frequently in the blogosphere. Most individuals who report the end of newspapers are looking at few studies of newspapers, with actual data, and rely on their own anecdotal evidence. such as:
"This is total bs. The only printed publications I read (outside of books) is when I travel on planes. Crap, my 80 year old dad only reads on-line newspapers. This story is a total industry plant. If this was the case why has the size of my local paper shrunk down to "high school" paper size in the last couple years?"
This individual is essentially attacking the problem by using anecdotal evidence, without realizing that he may not be a representative sample of the overall population. The article (linked above) even points out that individuals with this personality are NOT the norm, and dubs them 'information junkies'. Instead the author takes a more detached approach to the problem and discovers that the phenomena that we are observing in the media today is much more nuanced than the 'information junkies' are willing to sit through.

In a more relevant aspect, to this blog at least, science-bloggers have commented that they have no wish to replace science journalism (even if it bungles the story more often than it should). Instead many bloggers tend to view what they do as ancillary to science journalism. In other words, we rely on science journalism to report the stories, then we report, with commentary, on the reported stories (wow, THAT is a confusing sentence that I would hate to diagram).

But in a positive light, this story posits that there may be considerable good coming out of this 'death of print' phenomenon that we are observing. It's argued that the primary result of this process will be to free print journalism from deadlines, because it will be impossible for them to be faster than the internet and cable news outlets. Essentially, step back and let everyone else talk about the new and hip story (and waste hours of coverage on 'nothing news' where all you see is shots of some building and wild speculation about the media not having anything to report). Meanwhile, conventional print journalism, can track leads and bring together a more nuanced product that is of higher quality.

Imagine the benefit this will bring to science journalism. Instead of scientists having to correct journalists for shoddy work thrown together without any subtlety, you get the potential for scientists to educate the public on a larger, more detailed, scale. I imagine if newspapers stopped trying to rush to print, and let stories mature properly, the quality of the reporting will go up and the readership will maintain itself at some new level of equilibrium. I'm not arguing it won't be chaotic, and potentially scary for people financially involved, but this is the first argument I've seen that has something positive to say about the situation without resorting to the canard "let's charge people $0.99 every time they click on a link". Which, judging by the quality of most journalism as it is done in this current 'rush to publish' setting, is going to keep me away from 'pay for news' sites.

22 April 2009

Oh, Good thing I checked in... Happy Earth Day

Stress is still high, and my computer is still of limited utility. Fortunately, I have access at the school to the internet. So I swung on by to check out the place. Checking out the blog world (via the Blog rolls) reminded me it is Earth Day. I don't have anything planned except reading many papers, which are printed on... you guessed it... paper (at least I double sided them) so my carbon footprint is quite sizable right now.

Well here is a picture of me enjoying some of the Earth's amenities (air, gravity, sand dunes, etc.):
(Sand Dunes National Monument, CO. Summer 2004)

13 April 2009

Forced Hiatus

Hi all,

I am experiencing technical difficulties with my computer and am under some pretty substantial pressure regarding real-world (i.e. Damnable Tome of Arcane Knowledge) stuff, so I am going to be away from ITV for a little bit. I have turned on comment moderation for my posts, to keep spamming to a minimum while I am on this hiatus. I will turn it off when issues calm down a bit, to workable levels. Thanks for your patience.

10 April 2009

Time on Earth

I've been catching up on Skeptics Guide to the Universe during the more mundane tasks I have to perform (oh correct citation format, how you drain my motivation). On their Apr. 1 show, they have a plug for a relatively new geo-podcast. Time on Earth (you can also subscribe via iTunes). It is updated once a month, and the episodes are ~30mins each. So, there we have it. Two geo-podcasts, that I am aware of, the other being Podclast. Geosciences are getting out into this new-fangled media quite effectively (blogs, twitter, and now podcasts).
Edit: Eric beat me to the punch, so this post is rather redundant if you read both of our blogs. If you don't read both of our blogs, you really should. You should also read the other geoblogs that are readily acessible over in the right hand column there ->
Note: if you don't see your blog there, and would like me to add it, just shoot me a comment. I will rectify the situation.

08 April 2009

Bad Astronomy to Bad Ass

Phil Plait is getting a tattoo. And he is opening it up to suggestions from the peanut gallery (so long as they are sciency). This post has nothing really to do with anything (we will return to geology shortly), except for a way to put a visualization along with the suggestion I gave, the Doppler Effect:The added benefit of this image is it remains scientifically accurate as the skin sags!!! It just emphasizes the principle!

06 April 2009

Stick Figure Meme

Phil Plait at Bad Astronomy is passing the word about a contest from the Florida Citizens for Science. I don't care much about the contest, but I think it could make a reasonably funny meme. Especially since this seems to be a majority of geologists "stick" [rimshot] when it comes to drawing things other than outcrops or block diagrams.

The rules are simple:

Contest for ages 13 through adult (I imagine most of us geobloggers are in this category):
Your job is to create a cartoon that can be used to educate the general public and especially decision makers (state legislators, school board members) about the truth behind one false argument. Choose an argument… and create a cartoon that corrects the record.

Contest for ages 12 and under (for the precocious jr. geobloggers of the world):
Your job is to create a cartoon that tells everyone “why understanding science is important.”

Here is my entry into the meme (sorry I don't think it is very funny, unless you think something like Crime and Punishment is a great basis for a sitcom. Click to enlarge):

03 April 2009

Shai-Hulud Discovered to Hate Coral

Or for those who aren't geeky enough to know a Dune reference when they see one, I am talking about the Great Worms of Arrakis. In all seriousness though, there was a problem at an aquarium in Cornwall recently (click here for the Daily Mail article. Near as I can tell, this isn't an AFD prank, but it is also from a paper referred to as the "Daily Fail"). At night, the coral reef displays would be torn up, and occasionally some of the fish in the exhibit would become injured. The staff of the aquarium set to the task of identifying the culprit, but none of their traps were successful.

Eventually, they resorted to dismantling the exhibit to unearth the culprit. That's when they found it. Meet Barry:s/he (I can't tell which it is, or if it is both...) is a four foot long (!!!!) polychaete, that was responsible for breaking 20lb fishing lines and probably digested (or at least passed) the associated hooks, and in some cases ripping the coral in half!!! More terrifying is the fact that workers at the aquarium discovered Barry is capable of inflicting permanent localized numbness in humans (at least that is what the article said).

So to conclude. Big ass annelid, breaks 20 lb fishing line, eats hooks, rips through coral, AND causes permanent localized numbness is found in a tank. What would you do? Run from the room screaming? Grab a gun and keep squeezing till the trigger goes click? Abandon the aquarium and let the rule of the giant sea worm begin? Well, the aquarium moved Barry to his/her own tank.

hat-tip to Baziak on this one.

Edit: Apparently, this is my century post. Yay....

02 April 2009

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

I know I probably will. Callan has a post at NOVA Geoblog that did as he claimed it would. Which is good, because today was rather rough.


All the Latin on this page is from my vague recollections from High School. There are mistakes in the text. I just was trying to get the point across

Between Los Alamos,NM and White Rock, NM

Between Los Alamos,NM and White Rock, NM
The photo of the travertine spring was taken in the small opening in the center of the image.

Lectio Liber