Science Blogs is a semi-professional network of people blogging about science. Most of them are in the university system as graduates or academics, but there is the odd journalist having their say. There are more than 50 blogs updated fairly regularly, and the network itself has been up for a year. This is part 3 of a continuing series of reviews (read part 1, part 2).
The following two blogs are technical. The Daily Transcript is a blog by Alex Palazzo, a "postdoctoral fellow working in the Department of Cell Biology at Harvard Medical School." The material is highly focused on what it's like to be a functional research scientist. Posts rarely stray from the central theme of lab life and pure biology, and even his highly curious series "Map that Campus", where readers are challenged to identify a university from an aerial footage shot, is an academic distraction. It's life from inside the ivory walls from a man in a lab coat, but unless you yourself are involved in the academic pursuit of Cell Biology, it won't compute. The Daily Transcript is smart, well-written, highly-informed, and driven, but ultimately, for most readers, it's too technical.
Developing Intelligence is a blog by Chris Chatham, a "grad student at the University of Colorado, Boulder." Topics include "developmental and computational cognitive neuroscience, comparative psychology, psychometrics, and artificial intelligence." That's pretty meaty stuff. Chris' basic approach is to take research papers and try and distill the general meaning in essay length works. This is the approach used by another blog in the mind sciences, but Chris on the most part adheres more closely to the technical language and tone of the original papers, and makes fewer concessions for the general reader. The writing, as far as I can assess, is pitched at a post-graduate level, so basically beyond you and I. It's a good looking blog, well maintained, updated daily, but in the end, just too technical.
The following two blogs are non-technical. Deep Sea News is a partnership between Craig, a "post-doctoral fellow at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute", and Peter, a "Graduate Research Associate at the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies." Fairly impressive titles, but this blog is salt of the earth, or in this case, salt of the sea. It casts back to the best traditions of popular science, sparking curiosity and bewonderment, explaining the phenomena in comprehensible language. It's all about communication between the expert and an interested reader, a transfer of knowledge and ideas, sharing the passion. Multiple postings take place either daily or every other day, and when images are used, they are striking and effective. In fact, given the highly visual nature of their interests – the sea, it's creatures, exploration vessels, wonderful kraken – photos could probably be used a bit more. And I'm also a big fan of sticking categories in the sidebar; don't make me fish for it in the archives. Deep Sea News is a solid blog with wide appeal. Recommended.
Dispatches from the Culture Wars is by Ed Brayton, a "freelance writer and businessman". This blog is an exceptionally fine example of intelligent critique, of the public examination of ideas and their effects. Topics range from Intelligent Design, through Civil Liberties, Law and Politics. It's a fairly broad sweep, but what holds it together is the probing analysis, presenting real-world incidents, examining reality. It's a fairly feisty forum of inquiry; always a ton of comments presenting alternate angles and drawing new evidence. It's an active and engaged place, and represents the best spirit of vigorous debate. The main page is well-laid out; with sizable chunks of each post presented; you click through to read the whole thing, and you get the comments at the same time. Categories aren't used all that consistently; many posts aren't classified at all. Entertaining, eclectic, challenging; Ed lives up to his billing as a modern-day Plato. Recommended.