The common feature of these communication tools is that you write online.
A wiki is a website or similar online resource which allows users to add and edit content collectively.
A wiki lets you put articles and allows others (in restricted manner) to participate in the writing process and bring in their knowledge to the subject.
Content is interlinked. Content can be made only accessible to specific groups or single users.
Two prominent wikis are Wikipedia (the software is Mediawiki), the popular online encyclopedia, and MIT openwetware. A comprehensive list of wiki software is here.
Wikis on the internet are visible to all.
Online text editors
For collaborative editing and writing of a specific document by a defined team there are internet based text editors available.
One registers as user and after login you can nominate other editors for your document. You can allow multiple users to work on a document (simultaneously).
The document can also be downloaded onto ones harddisk.
Some online editors for cooperative writing are:
Google Docs & Spreadsheets (only for Mozilla Firefox, SeaMonkey and Camino)
Zohowriter (IE, Netscape, Mozilla)
Ajaxwrite (Mozilla Firefox)
Weblogs/Blogs were originally generated as personal online dairies or opinions to specific themes.
Contributions to blogs are allowed in form of comments. Free for all commenting is something bloggers
have embraced and has led to their explosion in popularity.
Another basic feature of a blog is pinging. Pinging is a mechanism whereby other blog search engines
are alerted automatically to a new post being made by your blog users. An example is Technocrati
(Real-time search for user-generated media, including blogs, by tag or keyword).
The trackback mechanism is more complex: you read a post, and you comment about it on your blog.
You place the URL to their post in your blog and their blog picks up your post and leaves it as a comment in their post. Confusing, isn't it?
RSS feeds are a common feature of websites (not only blogs) and push your posts onto other RSS readers. In case websites read your RSS,
your post appears on someone elses website, where it might get even more readership.
There are many places on the web where you can create a blog, some are free, some are paid services. To name a few: Blogger (by Google), LiveJournal and Wordpress, Typepad, Movable Type.
Blogger is the by far host of the jost blogs. This is probably because it is very easy to set up and free. A quick look at Alexa rankings
(rough estimate of traffic) shows over 2 bio.pageviews per day (!).
Interesting blogs are:
There are also Blogs associated with journals. They may help bridge the gap between literature and different ways to public controversies.
Often print journals cannot keep up with current developments in certain fields. Two expamles are:
The Molecular Systems Biology Blog The Seven Stones is a vital interactive platform for hot topics in the field of Systems Biology.
A Carnival is a periodic presentation of excellent blog writing, selected and submitted by the authors themselves. It offers a collection of links to posts from across the blogosphere that share a common theme.
Blog carnivals attempt to provide a weekly or monthly summary of key postings in a particular blogging community or on a special topic
The source media is different (blogs, mailing lists) but the editorial process and end results are essentially the same: a regular digest
of important scholarly or technical discussions.
The first carnival, Carnival of the Vanities, sought to showcase posts that bloggers felt were their very best.
Subsequent carnivals have developed in the same spirit, but are usually focused on a particular theme.
A comprehensive list of current carnivals can be found at Blog Carnival.
Two that I liked a lot are the Tangled Bank, a carnival for science, medicine, and natural history bloggers and the Cancer Research Blog Carnival.
Why are biologists still resistant to blogging?
Young scientists may fear that blogging has a poor image and could damage their careers.
They might fear that superiors consider it as waste of time, or even dangerous.
Until blogging is seen as normal this will continue to be a problem.
Often it is way too dangerous to discuss work in progress with outside people.
But more scientists believe that excessive competition can harm science, they see the benefit of brainstorming their research ideas on a blog far
outweighting the risks. Not to mention the advantage of getting quick support in technical and practical questions.
Once scientists come up with some sort of peer-review mechanism for blogs for their credibility, without diminishing their spontaneity, blogs will take off.
Maybe this idea will be taken further by journals which already practice open access policy.
Where can you store the links to all the information you find on the web?
The website del.icio.us
is a social bookmarking web service for storing, sharing, and discovering web
After successful login, you start by putting two buttons onto your web browser: One that can store the site you are looking at in delicious and another button to check your bookmarks on delicious. Bookmarks can be shared or not and are labelled with tags that you define. Many people use the del.icio.us linkrolls, tagrolls and network badges to display their links and information on their blogs an websites.
Similar services are offered by Stumbleupon, Netvouz, Mister Wong, YahooMyWeb, furl, Connotea.
Technocrati is a Real-time search for user-generated media (including weblogs) by tag or keyword. Also provides popularity indexes.
Technorati is an Internet search engine for searching blogs, competing with Google, Yahoo and IceRocket.
As of April 2008, Technorati indexes over 100 million weblogs.
Digg "is a place for people to discover and share content from anywhere on the web. From the biggest online destinations to the jost obscure blog, Digg surfaces the best stuff as voted on by our users. News stories and websites are submitted by users, and then promoted to the front page through a user-based ranking system. All content and access to the site is free, but registration is compulsory for certain elements, such as promoting (digging) stories, submitting stories and commenting on stories."