Expanding role for “Updates”

Geobloggers are generally an introspective group, and there has been a fair amount of discussion over the last few years about how the geoblogging community started, where it’s going, and what role it has to play in geosciences (see, for example, thoughts from Callan BentleyAnne Jefferson, andKim Hannula). I wish I could say that when I started “Updates” that I had some grand underlying theme in mind, but the best I can say is that it seemed like a good idea at the time. At most, I had the idea that there was a lot of interesting material in the VMNH collections of which most people were unaware, and that I could get some of that information out where more people could access it. I thought I might also use it to make public-accessible summaries of technical literature.

As it turned out, the blog has not evolved as I expected. I rarely talk about current technical literature, in part because there are many other blogs that do that exceptionally well. Instead, I spend much more time describing field work and the minutia of working through a large collection of fossils, reporting on presentations at conferences, and just generally describing my own work.

As “Updates” approaches its 3rd birthday, it continues to evolve, but it’s now stable enough that it has become something of an institution at VMNH. Today that took physical form, with the installation of a permanent kiosk outside my exhibit lab. Some time ago we began doing this on a trial basis, cobbling together a spare podium and a maze of wireless receivers done on the cheap. The new kiosk makes the blog a permanent part of VMNH’s paleontology exhibits, and demonstrates another role for the geoblogging community in science education and dissemination.

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2 Responses to Expanding role for “Updates”

  1. Doug says:

    I think it’s a great idea. For certain specimens, they can see the journey from the field to the lab and maybe even to the collections.

    Seems like such a kiosk would be a good vehicle for a virtual collections as well. Some museums have windows into their collections. If my museum ever got to that magnitude, instead of simply putting the virtual collection on the website (as some museums do), i’d have this thing so they can get to the virtual collections from right there. Hell, that might be the closest people can get without actually touring the facility!

  2. Alton Dooley says:

    Things like that are kind of what we have in mind, at least in part (like the beginning of the blog, the eventual goals are a little nebulous).

    One particular point we were trying to address is that we have a paleo staff of one (me), and not very many volunteers, but we have a large prominent exhibit lab. But I’m in the field so much that the lab is often empty. We figured that with field updates it would at least give visitors and explanations as to why there’s no one in the lab.

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