Apparently Carl Zimmer, science writer extraordinaire, was complaining at a conference that science writing lacks the social network backing found in genres like romance or science fiction. There simply aren’t the online communities reviewing and discussing the works of popular science books, and this was preventing any e-book market from forming.
Challenged to do something about it, Zimmer and a number of others authors, including Tom Levenson of Balloon Juice, put together a blog called Download the Universe, to be a place where they could review, discuss and interact with fans. Hopefully this will create a market for science e-books as well as expand the market for traditional science books.
Here’s the thing. These writers have come together because we are in the midst of a revolution in the way we talk to each to other—the existence of this blog is an example of communication and community that would not have been possible a very short time ago. One consequence of that change is that models for making a living through the craft of writing are being remade. Publishing has been disintermediated, which to my mind is mostly a very good thing indeed. (I do know that all this is old hat to everyone reading this.) But DtU came into existence because such disintermediation makes it harder to get the word out about good stuff. So as science writers, working in an area we think surpassingly important (and lots of fun) we’ve taken matters into our own hands, as the technology requires us to do. So, if you do have an interest in the construction of a culture of smart lay conversation about science, Download the Universe may be very useful to you. I hope so.
Well, I’m intrigued.