A few bits and pieces on science and the web to start the week:

Caltech’s Engineering and Science Magazine has an article on science blogging. Interesting comment from Sean Carroll (the blogging physicist, not the evolutionary biologist):

Despite the proliferation of physics blogs, Carroll is not very optimistic about them taking a more prominent role in physics research. From posting papers on arXiv.org to e-mail, the current way in which physicists communicate is already efficient. Blogs, however, could serve as a place for specialists and nonspecialists to interact, chipping away at the barriers separating academia from the general public. Still, most physics blogs are written by students or nonscientists who are interested in physics–and not professional physicists, Carroll says. “I think physicists have been slower to catch onto blogs than people in the social sciences or humanities,” he explains. “Physics is more of an esoteric topic where we talk to each other rather than the outside world.” For instance, blogging in technical detail about the cosmological effects of Lorentz-violating vector field–one of Carroll’s areas of research–probably has a limited audience. For him, Cosmic Variance’s purpose is clear. “We don’t have a lot of goals other than us having fun,” he says.

…article continues…

Warren Ellis links to several articles pointing out that magazine sales are actually on the rise, despite the plethora of online sources of information. The one exception to this, are magazines like Time and Newsweek, who print weekly summaries of the news, which, in this age of instantaneous information, seem horribly out of date by the time they come out.

In filtering through all the Web 2.0 hype, it’s hard to find any really useful, practical advice on currently available scientific web tools and how to adapt them for use in the biology lab. Much of what you see is too forward-looking and requires sweeping changes in the culture of science before sites will see enough participation to make them particularly valuable. I’m more interested in what’s available now, what tools are out there that can make a scientist’s job easier.

William Gunn over at his Synthesis blog has started a series of blog posts on just that subject, so his follow-ups bear watching.