Thursday, July 23, 2009

More on media buzz

My colleague Matthias Lendhold sent me a link to this wonderful video. What would media coverage look like if the moon landing happened today. It also features Twitter, of course. And Google Moon. I admit, this is off the topic of this blog, but I really liked it. It illustrates very well the "noise" emanated by today's electronic media that makes it a skill to choose the relevant sources and items of information. Lets make the noise glow brighter. ;-)

Friday, July 17, 2009

Acid rain responsible for mass extinction at T/J boundary

Today I read an advance online publication of van de Schootbrugge et al. in Nature Geoscience (doi:10.1038/ngeo577) on their interpretation of terrestrial mass extinction at the Triassic/Jurassic boundary. The role of wide spread volcanism at this time has been widedly acknowledged and its effect mainly attributed to CO2 emissions and consequent global warming. While this model explains the marine extinctions quite well, it does not fully explain the observed terrestrial extinction.

Van de Schoortbrugge et al. argue that their field observations suggest widespread acid rain and low sunlight caused by volcanic emmissions. They also point out the role of
polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which are toxic and are produced by heating organic compounds, e.g. coal seams.

Their findings strengthen the case that tectonics and resulting volcanism are major forcing mechanisms that trigger global mass extinctions. The parallels to the Permo-Triassic boundary are quite striking where some researchers suggest that the extrusion of the Siberian trap basalts throgh a major coal field would have also shown widespread ecological effects.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

... or not to twitter

A research note written by Matthew Robson, a 15-year-old Morgan Stanley intern, that described his friends' media habits has generated a flurry of interest from media executives and investors. There are many reported observations about how teenagers make use of various media. with all the flurry about twitter, the most explosive point was that Robson observed that his peers regard twitter as "pointless". (see e.g.

In terms of media consumption we live in an economy of attention (see e.g. and it turns out that twitter as a medium fares low in this system, while -until now- the company that runs it was "hot stuff". Probably no longer.

To me, the hype and fall of twitter is yet another example of disregard of patterns of social interaction. Does anybody remember "Second Life"? The way we conduct science is a real world social network, too. It has its own economy of attention (i.e. citation) and its interactions among network members are governed by trust. Therefore, any Web 2.0 approach to science must be in line with the cultural practices of the community it is designed to serve. Otherwise it will fail. Or, as I said at the AGU Fall Meeting 2007: "Beware of Geeks bearing gifts".

PhD Comic recently featured two nice comic strips on Web 2.0 in science:
To Tweet or not to Tweet
If research papers had a comment section

Enjoy! And get a FirstLife first. ;-)

Friday, July 10, 2009

GSA Session: Google Earth to Geoblogs: Digital Innovations in the Geosciences

Interesting GSA session (deadline August 11) ... copy&paste here:

P6. Google Earth to Geoblogs: Digital Innovations in the Geosciences
GSA Geoinformatics Division; GSA Geoscience Education Division; Google, Inc.; National Association of Geoscience Teachers (NAGT)
P. Kyle House, University of Nevada, Reno, Nev.; John Bailey, University of Alaska, Fairbanks, Alaska; Ronald C. Schott, Fort Hays State University, Hays, Kans.; Mano Marks, Google Inc., Mountain View, Calif.; Glenn A. Richard, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, N.Y.; Peter A. Selkin, University of Washington, Tacoma, Wash.
Sun., 18 Oct., 1:30–5 p.m.
Digital technologies such as Web 2.0 services, virtual globes, and new applications of digital photography can enhance understanding of geology at all levels and across all disciplines. This session will highlight particularly novel and innovative applications of these technologies.
[ Submit an abstract to this session ]