Daniel Lemire's blog

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Blogging is and will remain a fringe effect in science?

My friend Sébastien Paquet got me upset. He sent me a link to a post by David Crotty. What David says is that Wikipedia and blogging, the whole Web 2.0 fad, is not and will not have an impact in science. (Update: Not quite what David wrote.)

Ok David. I can respect your opinion on the matter. But it gets ugly when you bring Linux into the fold:

But when you step away from the enthusiasts and speak with the majority of scientists, you find out that they don’t have much interest in using many of these new technologies. The whole situation reminds me quite a bit of what one saw online regarding the Linux operating system 5 to 10 years ago. You saw great enthusiasm, and predictions that Linux was soon to take over the computing world. The rest of the world shrugged, and went back to their Windows computers to get their work done.

Back in 1998, using Linux required a fair amount of faith. Getting Linux running smoothly on a PC without help was matter of days. Few companies used Linux for job-critical applications. In 2008, the Linux market represents $35.7 billion. Unless you manage to avoid using Google, you use Linux every single day. Walmart sells Linux-based PCs.

David, you have chosen a terrible analogy. Linux has succeeded beyond any sensible expectation. Nobody predicted that Linux would kill Windows. Linux was not out to kill Windows.

Nobody is predicting that blogs will replace journals. Scientists do not blog because they think it is the new media that will replace conferences and journals. However, blogging has and will continue to have a serious impact on science.