Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Final Countdown (Part I) The Blog

Well Wisconsin, here we are. Stranded in the middle of another midwest winter, staring down my last semester of grad school. Yes, the last semester. It's the final countdown people. Just 16 weeks stand between me and my Master's degree. Two years ago when I decided to pack up and leave behind everyone I knew to chase this crazy science writing dream across the country it felt like I was facing a mountain of a task. But day by day, my time in Wisconsin has chipped away, leaving me asking... how did I get here?

Since I can't resist, let us ruminate on that with a little interlude from the Talking Heads:

Now that that's over, back to talking about grad school. I've decided to run a series of posts this semester, under the title The Final Countdown to reflect on this experience. As I head toward graduation, and the conclusion of my life in Madison, I want to take the time to pull it all apart and examine the good and the bad. Today, I want to do some thinking about Science Decoded, and what having a blog to chronicle this time has meant to me. Each month I hope to talk about something different, leading up to graduation in May. 

This blog started when I made my move to Wisconsin and has played an integral role in my life here. It is my distraction when I'm bored, my place to publish my work, share what I've learned, and on multiple occasions served as a class assignment. Science Decoded was recently featured in Scientific American's Incubator blog (along with many more distinguished clips from my colleagues here at UW!) and it really got me thinking about how important this blog has become to me. One of the best things about the Internet is being able to carve out your own little piece, to share what you think is important, to have a voice. 

I've always wanted Science Decoded to be a place where people just have access to scientific ideas that aren't complicated and pompous, because science itself isn't highfalutin. I've always found the beauty in science to be its simplicity, but that can get lost so quickly. A good friend recently told me that what he liked about this blog was that I write the way I talk. I had been wondering if I should change the tone I use on here to something more professional, since it has been getting a higher profile lately, but my friend's comment inspired me to keep things the way they are. He told me that he likes the way I lure people in with anecdotes and asides about what I think about each topic, with a generally innocent tone but in the end smack you with the point. 

That description made me laugh, but I was also relieved to know that I do get the point across (or at least in there, somewhere). Everything I write on here does have a purpose, even the polar bear posts, and I was worried that the reason behind each post was getting lost. But, all I've ever wanted was to get people thinking, and if I'm doing that, then I'm happy with what this blog has become.

I'd love to know what more people think about this blog. I've said over and over that I have no idea who reads this or why, but I'd love to find out. If there are things I could do differently, if there are things I can keep doing -- let me know! Regardless, I intend to keep blogging. I know I was slacking during the month I was in New Jersey for the holidays (but honestly, it was a crazy time). That doesn't mean I've given up on Science Decoded or that even when grad school ends I'll throw in the towel. This blog means far more to me than just a class assignment. Now that I've carved my corner out in the Internet, I have no intention of giving it up. 

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