Panel on academic blogging

This Monday, I joint a panel discussion in Montréal on “Minor forms of academic communication: revamping the relationship between science and society?“, at the World Social Science Forum. The Forum was organized by the ISSC, i.e. the UNESCO. Yes, Monday was Thanksgiving in Canada. I have to admit that I was not used to celebrate Thanksgiving, in Europe, but since I have in North America, I try to enjoy it. As you can learn on http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thanksgiving, at Thanksgiving, you’re supposed to be “Spending Time with Family“. I find it odd that the UNESCO organizes a three day conference on that week-end (the conference started on Sunday actually). It looks like you’re not supposed to have a family life when you’re an academic….

Anyway, that was interesting to join that panel, since I had the opportunity to have interesting discussions with the other members of the panel. I was glad to meet Loïc Le Pape, the editor of a great blog on religion and politics, http://politicsofreligion.hypotheses.org/. It was interesting to see that, even if we do blog on very different topics, with very different styles, we both – as academic bloggers – share the same feelings, the same joy and the same fear about blogging. I also enjoyed meeting – finally – the legendary André Gunthert (see http://andre.gunthert.fr/). You probably know André from his blog http://culturevisuelle.org/icones/. The text of his talk on now online there, and I did really appreciate it (anyone interested by academic blogging should probably read it). I was also glad to discuss about Boulet‘s incredible post on his blog entitled “notre Toyota était fantastique“ (we both love Boulet’s work, and more generally graphical novels, what we call bande dessinée in French, the nineth art actually). Boulet is a comic book writer, publishing on a blog for years, and I have to admit that I prefer reading the published books than the blog (his Notes are the paper version of the blog). But last week, I saw something on his blog that I will never be able to read in a book

It is still a cartoon, probably more an autobiographical graphic novel, but those animations are great. For the first time, I really see the interest of blogging in graphical novels. Please, have a look at “notre Toyota était fantastique“, it is really something you should experience… And I was glad to share André’s point of view, since this is exactly his expertise (as a researcher). I hope that we’ll find some time to discuss more about data visualization, since I believe I have a lot to learn from him.

It was also great to finally meet Marin Dacos, one of the founder of http://hypotheses.org/, which is the platform hosting now my blog. Hearing some macro-vision about academic blogging was interesting, and complementary compared with blogger’s experiences I’ve been reading those past days to prepare my talk. I was also glad to discuss legal aspects related to blogging, since one of the interest of being hosted by an academic platform is to have some kind of backup and support. One of the issue I should still work on is about adding mentions when I use a picture on my blog. I am aware that it is not fair to avoid citations related to pictures, when I upload them on my blog. A few months back, I decided to add mentions, explaining where each pictures were borrowed from. Then, since the owner of the rights of some pictures was checking on the internet using robots (or simply Google), within a week, I got an email asking me to remove those pictures, since it was illegal. The email was not friendly at all. So I did remove the pictures, and all the citations and mentions. So, if some authors of pictures want me to remove a picture from my blog, or want me to add a mention below, I’d be glad to do so ! Please, just send me an email.

And finally, another interesting experience related to this panel was that, for the first time, I discovered what live tweeting was. So far, it was only a legend, that I could read from here and there (see e.g. http://www.theguardian.com/higher-education-network/blog/…). I had already experience the one tweet to mention a talk, like

but here, I guess for the first time, I experienced live teet,

I found that awesome ! I mean, at first, I find that odd to see me mentioned so many time on consecutive posts on twitter. But it is great to see what people in the room got from my talk (I have to admit that it was not live for me since I do not have a smartphone – not even a phone actually – I did discovered that later, in the evening, when I got back home, after some beers with André and Loïc). I did really enjoy what Ewen did on his blog a few month ago, with a detailed summary of the R conference he went to (see http://editerna.free.fr/wp/?p=56). Here, it is the tweet version. And I found it great… I don’t know why it is the first time I see this (I don’t know if it is something you see more in social science than in mathematics, or just due to the fact that I did not attend much conference since I have three kids), but I loved that… Thanks again Ravi.