May 07

Writing About Science (Part 1)

I figure I’ll start out this blog with my take on science writing.

the-pen-is-mightier

Scientists construct papers and journals all the time that make validated statments about the nature of the universe. These publications serve as permanent records of scientific research.

Journalists, on the other hand, have to answer to different standards.  The role of the journalist, on the other hand, is essentially to inform. This puts the science writer into a strange position, because in some respects he is informing, but in others he is actually educating.  To top it all off, the science writer needs to add a level of relevancy to the piece so that readers will see how it applies to their own place in the world.

When I first began blogging, I was exclusively a technology blogger, writing about the news and general minutia that makes up the bulk of the tech side of the internet.  Low level tech blogging essentially consists of taking other stories, digesting them, and regurgitating them as a new, slightly updated story.  It didn’t teach me all that much about journalism of any kind, but it cemented my skills in blog editing and getting a lot written in a short amount of time (many of the stories were time sensitive).

After several iterations of freelance blogging, I got the opporunity to write about more general topics.  Instead of geeky technology news, I branched out into other geeky areas as well.  I wrote an article about how magicians use the internet.  Since that didn’t receive much acclaim, I tried out a few science articles.  I was surprised by two things immediately:

  1. How easy they had been to write
  2. How many people seemed to really have benefitted from them

Now I don’t want to oversell myself here, I only have an undergraduate education, but it was at that point that I realized how important it intelligible science could be to everyone, not just genuine scientists.  People are naturally seekers of truth.  Most are hindered by the immensely complex nature of the universe.  It is up to specialists to parse out that complexity and allow people to do what comes naturally to them: seek out the truth.

Later on I will continue this article in Part 2…

[“I tend to scribble a lot” from Unhindered by Talent on Flickr, CC]