Field of Science

Joining Twitter. Sigh.

The last few weeks I've been making some changes at this blog. One is to write fewer but higher-quality posts. Hopefully you noticed the latter and not just the former. At the same time, I have been finding more and more articles and posts that demand sharing, but about which I have little or nothing to say, except that you should read it. This has led me to add a twitter feed above the posts. You can read there or follow directly.

We'll see how it goes. Feedback is welcome. After all, I do this for the audience.


Another change: This blog is *relatively* new to FieldOfScience, but posts go back to 2007. Some of those older posts are worth revisiting, and I'll be reposting (occasionally with updates) a few of the better ones from time to time under the label "golden oldies". Again, if people having feelings about this, let me know.


Edward said...

Are you sure you want feedback?

Your twitter widget is ugly. Your "Follow Me Button" image isn't always loading. See your email for a better option, or let me know and I'll clean it up.

Rehashing old posts just means--to me--that you've run out of (interesting) things to say. I wouldn't go there.

GamesWithWords said...

I'll take a look at the widget.

As far as rehashes, what else do you suggest about topics that don't go away? For instance, I recently wrote about universal grammar. Should I never talk about it again? Down that road lies a blog dedicated to minor technical arguments.

Even if the readership of the blog remained constant over many years, never growing, it's probably still worth revisiting the big issues simply because people's perspectives have changed and the conversation can begin anew. And of course the readership does change. I could write a brand new post from scratch, but why bother, since for the Big Questions, the content will be largely the same, and I already have a perfectly good post written. (Again, I'd be editing the old version to reference any important new data or changes in my own thinking.)

So if not that, what do you suggest?

Edward said...

Well, it sounded like you were just going to repost old posts, so maybe I misunderstood. As for carrying the conversation forward, I think that makes perfect sense. Still, I read somewhere once that "repeat text" was a no-no (it'll get you flagged as a spammer), so I'd suggest linking to old posts for reference rather than reposting large portions of them.

Anonymous said...

Regarding Twitter, I notice that some of the links you've tweeted are posts from this blog. In my opinion (and I'm not the only one), it's a good principle to mark such links with some catchphrase such as "on the blog", "just posted", or some other choice of words, so that people know at a glance whether a link leads to your own writings or just to somewhere you recommend. It's a courtesy for people who read both your tweets and your blog on a regular basis.

Also, putting the twitter stream above your blog posts is a bad idea. With the current layout, I have to scroll down even to see the title of your most recent post! Given that a blog should obviously give primary place to blog posts, that's not really a good arrangement.

Edward said...

@outerhoard: I agree with you about the undesirability of the twitter widget placement.

As for tweeting Gw/W's blog posts, it's automated, but one way to tell it's a blog post is the shortened url is a url.

GamesWithWords said...

Outerhord: Having the blog posts twittered is something Edward set up, and as he says it's automated. Edward -- is there any way to have "on the blog" added to the tweet?

I'm not sure there *is* a good place for the widgit. I didn't like it on the side, because it took up too much room and there was other stuff I wanted people to see. I felt like people were more likely to scroll past the tweets to see the posts than past the tweets to see some of the stuff I actually care about in the side bar.

Part of it may be the new widget Edward has added to the top of the page. Despite the fact that I think I lobbied for something like that, I'm not sure how successful it has been.

Anonymous said...

Regarding the items you care about in the sidebar, people currently have to scroll down to see those things anyway, because the twitter widget extends right across the top of the blog.

Personally, I'd put the widget on the sidebar below "recent comments" and above "elsewhere at field of science", because then there is a progression from stuff on your blog to your stuff elsewhere to other people's stuff elsewhere. Anyone who's willing to scroll down as far as they already do to see the "elsewhere" section or the blogroll isn't going to be deterred by a Twitter widget. (A more compact widget, using the same font as the rest of the sidebar, would be preferable.)

If you're realistic about the circumstances in which people will look at the various items on the sidebar at all (i.e. when they've already decided they want more), then I think the proper placement of the widget will be less of a problem. If people are keenly interested in your tweets, they will follow you. If people are vaguely interested in your tweets (or more generally in what you've written elswhere), they will be motivated to scroll partway down the sidebar. Trust this.

People visit the blog in order to read blog posts, so it's to be expected that they might be annoyed at having to scroll past tweets to get to them.

Liz said...

I have to agree with Edward and outerhoard. It bugs me not being able to see the most recent blog post, even the title, without scrolling down. If the Twitter widget was in the sidebar, in smaller font, possibly with fewer tweets displayed, I think it would fit in a lot better. Allotrope has something similar.

Lab Rat said...

I'd recommend sticking the twitter right at the top on the sidebar, if you want people to see it. It does just look a bit ugly on top of your posts. and on my little computer screen you can't even see the posts starting unless you scroll down.

Edward said...

"on the blog:" is set to appear before the tweets.

GamesWithWords said...

I appreciate all the comments. I'm still trying to find the right balance. Basically, I'm trying to use Twitter as a portion of the blog. That is, I want more frequent but extremely short blog posts, and less frequent but more in-depth long posts. Because of font size issues, if I write the short posts as normal blog posts, that will move the longer posts way down the page (or possibly to the next page). Whereas by using a widget at the top, I can make sure the long posts stay reasonably high.

That is, I want people to have to scroll past the tweets because I consider them to be blog posts. Now, they may not prove popular and I may eventually dump that section. But...would those who have been advocating sidebar prefer that I simply post what are now tweets as actual blog entries?

Anonymous said...

The world is not ready for such a revolutionary idea as considering tweets to be blog posts!

You're the cognitive scientist, but it seems to me there's a psychological dimension to this problem. People approach tweets and blog posts with different frames of mind, and when people visit a blog, they put themselves in the frame of mind to read blog posts as opposed to, say, tweets. Combining tweets and blog posts in the same basket, as you're so keen to do, really doesn't mesh well with human psychology. But surely you understand that better than I do.

In my opinion, the solution is something that's rather common on other blogs. Put the Twitter widget in the sidebar. On a fairly regular schedule (once a week, let's say), write a blog post that summarises (or expands on) all of your tweets over the week that's been (e.g. lists all of the links that you've tweeted, but please remember to expand the URLs). Remind people, either at the beginning or end of these blog posts, that if they don't want to wait a week for the next installment they can follow you on Twitter.