Friday, September 18, 2009

A new portal for science straight from the horses' mouths on the internets (but ignore the odd name)

We scientists are always complaining about the quality of science reporting in the mainstream media, particularly in recent times when we've seen an alarming growth in anti-science movements in the US (be it creationism on the right or anti-vaccinationism on the left). You'll find my own rants on the subject in the archives of this very blog. In fact, the lack of quality science communication in the public sphere (i.e., outside the ivory tower) is the main reason some of us have jumped into science communication outside of our journals, e.g., by starting science cafes to reach our local communities, and blogging (coming up on 3 years of that for me!) for a broader audience. All taking time off from the research field site or lab bench so we could try to wrest that media megaphone from the jackanapes running newspapers (let alone TV newschannels) and journalism schools who don't give a hoot about employing people with any proper science education! The blogosphere has provided an excellent democratic medium for us to get the real science out directly, but its not exactly an alternative to a news channel, especially for smalltime bloggers like me. We have hundreds or thousands of science blogs now, many written by active scientists, but the effort is scattered across a similar large number of websites, which means most of our writing reaches mostly a fraction of those already motivated to read about science! Its not like someone is going to stumble upon my blog as they might if I had a column or even a letter in the Fresno Bee, is it? So we've had some blogging collectives emerge, the most prominent example being ScienceBlogs, which can attract more eyeballs, and keep them coming back for more (despite occasional outbreaks of distinctly odd non-science blogginess over there among the denizens of SB). This week a new portal has opened on the internets, with a more impressive pedigree: 35 top US universities have banded together to launch! Check out the impressive array of university logos on their about page which states: made its debut as a beta site in March 2009 and formally launched on September 15. As an online research magazine, Futurity highlights the latest discoveries from leading universities in the United States and Canada.

Who is Futurity?

Duke University, Stanford University, and the University of Rochester lead a consortium of participating universities (see list below) that manages and funds the project. All partners are members of the Association of American Universities (AAU), a nonprofit organization of leading public and private research universities.

Futurity aggregates the very best research news. The content is produced by the partner universities, and submitted to Futurity’s editor ( for consideration. The site, which is hosted at the University of Rochester, covers news in the environment, health, science, society, and other areas.

So now you have one more excellent source for quality science news straight from the frontiers of discovery at the best institutions in the US. In addition to the web portal, you can also partake of all this future-y science-y goodness on Facebook, Twitter, and even YouTube! How terrific is that?

I just wish they'd spent a little more time/effort coming up with a better name than Futurity!



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