2008 was a good year for geoblogging; in the past twelve months, so many smart and interesting new earth science blogs have popped up that it’s getting hard to keep track of them all. When I first set up my ‘allgeo’ feed, there were maybe a dozen or so regularly updating blogs on it; nowadays, it must be pushing 100. There are definitely 100 geoblogs out there, according to this new list, and probably the most complete listing at stratigraphy.net informs me that I probably need to brush up my Spanish – and start learning German – this year.
With this dramatic growth comes the problems of keeping track of it all – there might now be several hundred posts hitting the geoblogosphere in a typical week, with several dozen seemingly appearing every time I turn my head to get some actual work done. But there’s also deeper issue to consider: geology is, at heart, a discipline of time and of place, and this aspect is sometimes hard to convey online. Wouldn’t it be great if someone interested in the landscape around where they live, or that they are visiting on holiday, could just fire up Google Earth and find posts which describe and explain the local geology? Or find out how they differ from rocks of similar age around the world? Such a facility could potentially be of some professional use as well – I’d certainly appreciate being able to easily look up new papers by region and age.
I know the stratigraphy.net people are experimenting in this area, but, following on from a discussion at Michael Welland’s excellent new blog, I think that there is the possibility of making things much easier by tagging our posts, where relevant, with metadata that provides specific details of the places and geological time periods we are talking about. What I envisage is somewhat similar to what you do with a post you submit to the researchblogging site, except that rather than providing a doi, you associate your post with a location (either by clicking on a map, or providing specific co-ordinates), and a time period (by clicking on a timescale, or inputting your own age range). A tag is then generated which you add to your post (with, obviously, a funky icon). With this, specific geographical and chronological information is now attached to your musings, which opens some interesting possibilities for aggregation.
The concept is simple. Implementation is another matter, although if other people think this is worth doing I’m certainly willing to put some time into trying to get something set up. But first, I want to hear whether there might be some appetite for this sort of system, both from geobloggers and readers. Also, what other things might be useful to include as metadata – subdiscipline (geophysics, palaeontology, geochemistry)? Processes (volcanic, earthquake, landslides)? Types of feature (folds, faults, sedimentary structures, contacts)?
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