Hive Needs YOU... to be a better writer
A pet peeve
Ahh, STEMsocial, an ancient curation project on Hive since before the dawn of time, in which I have been a part since, what, 2017? or something ridiculous like that. It's been chugging along as it usually does, supporting those who wish to create content about STEM subjects, while also being open to similar things such as economics, architecture, whatever.
We have been... cruising so far, consistently supporting our authors and helping a lot of regions who truly can benefit from reaping real rewards for the work they have dedicated their lives to, perhaps in countries which simply cannot pay them enough to put food on the table otherwise.
This is great and I always want to support this.
It has been a long time frustration of mine that a lot of the content being written is... well, unnecessary.
Should a blog be necessary in order to get curation? Of course not. But that's when we're talking about a blog. What people write in STEMSocial is not so much a blog, but a wiki article. And I think we all agree this is simply not required nor is it desired reading. Much of the content writers are, for example, writing about a medical condition in this format:
- Hello everyone!!
- Intro: what is it?
We are not an academic journal, a research publication or anything but a blog, and I have to remind myself and others that our goal is simply to bring STEM subjects into the light with a more personal touch, encouraging professional academics to appeal to the masses, and bring scientific literacy forward.
This is not going to be accomplished by making your own wiki or WebMD articles, when those things already exist. However, we also don't want to pander to the clickbait BS, where only the craziest discoveries are heard on LADBible or whatever. A fine balance where all science is represented, is key.
So here is my own hypothetical blog giving a little bit of wisdom on what I think will create a much richer outcome, a more enjoyable writing experience, a better environment for academics, nerds, or just curious people to learn, share, and bring people into. Better yet, perhaps, more enthusiastic curation will soon follow.
I will be sharing this post in the comments of various posts which I think are guilty of these issues.
To be clear though, these views are mine, not an official statement from STEMsocial.
1: Get rid of the Wiki and WebMD mindset
Like I said, nobody realistically cares about a re-worded wiki page, and nobody is 'Hiving' their symptoms when they feel a lump on their neck.
Your best bet is to get rid of that mindset entirely and remember: it's a blog!
2: Figure out who you are as a writer
Like any art form, a blog should have character and personality. When I see art from Picasso, I know it's Picasso. Hell, even at a design convention I went to recently, each artist's stall had very distinct and unique style that they clearly spent years working on. I recognise the guitar tone or grizzly voice in a rock band, and an author of non-fiction is famous for their style and original concepts, too.
Blogs are no different. You need to figure out what your writing style actually is, and although STEMsocial is not an art community so we don't require Bukowski-esque poetry to explain an inflamed gallbladder, we do need to feel like we are connecting with the person doing the writing. Even news journalists writing opinion articles have their own sense of humour, sarcasm or writing style.
This is really important. People don't follow content, they follow the people behind the content.
If it was just content, people would consume it and move on to other content, creator be damned. In this sense, you are losing the battle against AI because you have nothing to offer that ChatGPT doesn't offer already, likely to a higher level of quality and greater speed.
You are a human - take advantage of that.
3: Discover all possible roads, and choose the most fascinating
Let's go back to that basic, dull formula above, but make a few changes. We will approach this hypothetical blog with the subject of tape worms, because why not, they're cute as AI is more than happy to demonstrate:
Hello everyone!!No, get rid of it! This is the Hive equivalent of Youtubers starting every video with 'Hey guys, don't forget to like and subscribe!'
- Intro: Tell a story, something fascinating, something personal, something funny, something shocking. For example, the man who infested himself with tapeworms in the name of science. Or, the world's longest tapeworm (24 metres!!!).
Again, write with style, once your figure out exactly what your style is.
Causes<-- No. Instead, this --> Delve into the tapeworm's fascinating life cycle, the most dangerous ones, the regions where people are most at risk. Different types, where in the human body, the reasons they are transmitted more in one place than another, discuss what could be done about it, or more importantly, what is being done. Discuss how they have evolved alongside humans, trace their evolutionary history. If none of this is your profession, take time to read through proper resources from Google Scholar for example, or other freely accessible locations. There's a ton.
Don't forget to check the latest in the scholar's result options:
Sometimes, you might not even know what you want to write about until you start going down a rabbit hole or two. 3 hours of digging around later and you have 100 stories to tell of the latest developments on a given topic, and you have yourself a 7-part series on tapeworms. For example, digging in this rabbit hole, I find a fascinating connection between tapeworms and vitamin B12 deficiency.
This is what the world looks like if you don't take enough vitamins
Symptoms<-- Nobody cares, unless it's particularly gruesome or fascinating. As I mentioned above with B12 deficiency, having tapeworms can cause depression, impaired cognition/memory and judgement, a dodgy walk, impaired two-point discrimination and proprioception, anemia, and more. Tapeworms can also cause epilepsy. Treatment<-- Nobody cares. However, if there is ongoing research reporting breakthroughs in developments or huge nationwide trials, encouraging results, or just an interesting history on a cure's discovery, this is more worthwhile. In this case, don't exclusively look for research papers; journalism can be your friend. Find anything that was worth reporting on recently. Conclusion- You can if you want, but there's no real need.
You can also try looking at your topic from a new perspective. Tapeworms are bad? How about...
Tapeworms are good??
Parasite loss is probably the biggest biodiversity crisis we’re facing - Chelsea Wood.
It turns out parasites are a critical and necessary part of the global ecosystem. The more we get rid of them, the more damage we're doing to the environment. Damnnnn, tell me more!
When you hear a parasitologist talk about tapeworms, you get a whole new perspective:
...when we look at these parasites at their own scale, under the microscope, that we get to see how truly gorgeous they are...They absorb all their nutrients right across their body wall, but their heads are armed with these four curlicue tentacles that they can evert quickly right out of the head end. And each one of those tentacles is equipped with thousands of backward facing spines. So when you look at these things under the microscope, the spines catch the light and refract the light and make it look kind of rainbow. - Chelsea Wood
What an eye-opener...
- References - Yep, credit everything you find. Feel free to contact anyone in a given field via public email - I've done this a few times and almost always got a nice reply within a few days. Better yet, ask people you can find within the STEMsocial community who might happen to have expertise in the area too!
As you can see, even in this brief, lazy example of a blog about an arbitrary subject I picked out of thin air, I ended up digging deeper than planned and got totally engrossed in tapeworm trivia.
I'm more informed, more fascinated, and I am going to tell my girlfriend all about it.
But more importantly, by writing it down I can make a blog - or a whole series - that can earn me some pennies, because I put time, effort and passion into it.
Sure, my hypothetical tapeworm blog was still 'unnecessary', but it was interesting, I hypothetically wrote it with some pizzazz, some humour, my personal fascination bleeding out of my words. Being necessary or not is irrelevant because I'm blogging, not wikipedia-ing.
And that's what it means to blog STEM subjects on Hive, in my opinion
So there you have it
Again, this is by no means a requirement, but as the a member of STEMsocial, and as somebody who cares about the quality of the literature we consume on here every day as well as the engagement and overall health of Hive, I think we will all be way better off by actually releasing all that pent-up inspiration we feel about the world around us, and letting others ride the waves.
(Awesome video by @gtg!)