Science Blogging and Open Science is a broad field which offers vast opportunities for publishing, creativity and networking. But, in addition to the above mentioned barriers, the field is also burdened with numerous additional challenges and obstacles for contemporary students and researchers. Many of these have to do with a collision of traditional norms and publishing standards on the one hand – and new possibilities for publishing on the other hand. Also, the delicate question of what science is – and whether Science Blogs are suitable places for working on scientific topics – may arise.
I was a hesitating, shy blogger in the beginning, not only for coming from the humanities; as a PhD student, I was always concerned with the rules of the field, as bundled in the examination rules. I was concerned whether blogging about PhD relevant content could mean that I inadvertently broke the rules. I know that these challenges can scare off many PhD researchers from blogging – although my graduate school even encouraged us to blogging. The collision between old and new, prerevolutionary and revolutionary standards (revolutionary in terms of the digital revolution) is a real and contradictive thing: while everyone seemed to praise the digital humanities, you would also hear the misgivings and the warnings by others. Often, I couldn’t get clear answers to my queries, even not from the university administration. Here are some of the questions which frequently occured to me:
- How can quality assurance and scientificity be maintained?
- Can I accidently plagiarise myself – and when do I have to quote from my own blog?
- How do blogging and the postulate of originality intersect while I write on my (B.A. / M.A. / doctoral) thesis?
- What is the idea behind the creative commons licences (CC)?
- Why is one of my professors using stuff from Wikipedia in his publications – while I was always told not to use Wikipedia?
- Which legal, ethic and other issues need to be kept in mind while blogging, linking and quoting?
- How do proprietary platforms and non-free software and content shape the academic field?
- How can academic freedom be defended against the effects of addictivity and manipulation, as known from platform-owned social media output?
- And most importantly: what can blogging offer in order to use those parts of the internet which can still be seen as more or less free? How can science blogging help to establish a better relationship to the realm of digital technology?
I will take up the presented problems and questions throughout the essays. My aim is not only to write a self-reflective contribution and to share experiences, but also to raise awareness that a deeper familiarity with the internet’s backend isn’t reserved to geeks, nerds, and hackers; if you want to create your own personal homepage or blog, you can do it yourself – easily. I would like to defend the position that a better knowledge of digital technologies and the question of digital literacy and sovereignty equally concern researchers in all disciplines of science – from the MINTs to History. Moreover, I hope I can convince my readers that observing and participating in the development of the World Wide Web is a thrilling thing. I guess the central message which I would like to convey is that we, as students and researchers from area studies, really have no reason to shy away from this fascinating (and inevitable) field. To embrace the opportunity to learn, instead, can only improve our work, I would argue.