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Serbia's One and Only Science Blog: Help Save It!

What is the cost of having and maintaining a science blog? What does science blogging mean for the scientific community and education of a country like Serbia, especially after years and years of sanctions, war and political disturbances?

Serbia is the country in transition, and right now there is a great chance for its scientific community to jump into the ICT world science highway by implementing new technologies into its scientific and educational systems. One of the main postulates of this year's workshop in Belgrade at FP 7/ICT Work Programme on science in society was that technology is worth nothing without users, content and interaction. If Serbia wants to become part of e-Europe, many things must be changed, beginning locally and then on a much broader scale.

But some representatives of Serbian educational and science institutions don't seem to care too much about information literacy and information sharing, as well as developing new information technology tools – which, ironically, happen to be open software applications and platforms that do not cost anything. One of the professors at Belgrade Open School (BOS) has described the situation in the region as not good: the educational system is neither valued enough, nor evaluated.

Blogs would have been a great medium for interaction, publishing, communication and collaboration in science, a good place for showcasing Serbian scientific achievement, which has been in the shade lately. In Serbia, however, there is only one institutional science blog – the blog of KoBSON, the Serbian Consortium of Coordinated Library Acquisition hosted and maintained by the Center for Scientific Information at the National Library of Serbia.

Besides being one and only in Serbia – and despite providing the Serbian scientific community with examples of various uses of blogs in science, education, teaching, research, networking, popularization of science and online activism – the KoBSON blog may soon disappear altogether.

Bora Zivkovic, a science blogger and the founder of the Science Blogging Initiative, reports on the problem at ScienceBlogs.com:

Do Serbian scientists need a blog of their own?

Not that it costs anything to have one…

Yet, the Konsortium of science libraries in Serbia is seriously contemplating shutting down their KOBSON blog, an invaluable tool in science communication in the region.

Danica, who the regular readers of this blog are quite familiar with as she is the Number One Champion for Open Science and Web 2.0 science in Serbia, has put a lot of effort into building the online infrastructure for Serbian scientific communication, including the KOBSON blog and the KOBSON wiki, as well as teaching and preaching to the local scientific community about the importance of catching up with the world after a decade of isolation and fully embracing the modern communication tools.”

Below is some of what other bloggers write about the value of the KoBSON blog and science blogging in general.

Journalist and blogger Ljubisa Bojic comments in Serbian version of the post at KoBSON. He believes that blogs are a necessary tool in education, at universities as well as in the scientific community, because they help to “[exchange] ideas between scientists”:

I use the KOBSON services from time to time and I think that frequent users should as well make their own blogs. Therefore, it is not only you [addressing KoBSON], but also the university professors and students who feel that your internet page is their own home and who have the need to share their views and to talk about their own research.

A colleague from Croatia, Filologanoga, who is also blogger in education and science area, thinks that communication and interaction are very important factors:

It is necessary for Institutions who are dealing with acquisition, keeping and sharing the information to have communication with their users. The only problem is that for this kind of communication two sides are necessary, at least, according to my experience, and in science this process sometimes doesn’t go very well.

Tanja, who is researching the areas of virtual communication and blogs, writes:

Excellent discussion… I think that we do not have developed audience for understanding such issues, still. [...] And, of course, it's not just the science blogs that we need :)

Solana wrote this, in English:

The more science blogging the better! Knowledge should be open to all.

What is to be done about the situation?

Bora Zivkovic suggests direct action and interaction:

There is not much more that Danica alone can do in the present situation to save the KOBSON blog, but perhaps YOU all can help. How? Let's demonstrate the power of Science 2.0 by direct example! Go to the KOBSON blog and explain the importance of such a tool in the comments of this post. Even better, if you are fluent in one or another variant of the Serbo-Croatian language, post a comment on the Serbian version of the post. Then, post a link and this plea to your own blog as well and ask your readers to do the same.

  • http://redsevenone.wordpress.com Martin G. Smith

    The question is, Are Sciences Blogs Needed? Allow me to share a parable, while in an ever so slightly different context, it speaks to the benefit of Scientific Communication.

    ‘When Dave first asked me for help, I suggest to people that asking me for help is a bad decision if they expect to fail, he had a $250.00/Day Meth habit. I introduced him to the Zome tool and hooked him up to my network. In time he became interested in High Energy Physics and devoured everything available from the folks at SLAC, Fermilab, and CERN. He the discovered arXiv and more recently Eprintweb at Cornell and read every dispatch, sometime sent running to our data miner to find out more on topics he could not grasp.
    ‘He discovered he could Email the authors of the reports and started asking questions about things he could not understand. A sort of Adhoc support group formed around the question he asked because he had asked questions they had not thought of. This relationship as grown to the point that ‘Dave’ has been invited to the first firing of the LHC next Spring at CERN. All this from a young man who I was told by the local Judicial authorities was a dead loss.’
    Our Bias Is, As always, Declared at [http://redsevenone.wordpress.com]

  • Harden McConnell

    Anyone interested in membrane biophysics?

  • Harry Janssen

    Seems the same problem as I discovered in Lithuania.
    Lithuania is already member of the European Union, but I have the feeling that they don’t realize it.
    The country is in all her aspects is still inside and only few institutions are interested in what is going on in science and education in the other European countries and world-wide.
    Seems to take time before this little countries, that have suffered under the Sowjet period, comes a more open and active countries and have the feelings to be part from world.

  • http://www.footprints.in reduce the carbon footprints

    great to see that there is a good science blog from serbia

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