From the “blogosphere”? Hardly.

I generally skip over “From the Blogosphere”, a (mostly) weekly-summary of one or two blog posts in Nature’s “Authors” section (here is the latest). Why? Well, I’ve always suspected that the title is rather misleading. Now, I have the hard numbers to prove it.

My feed reader contains an archive of 128 articles, dating back to May 10 2007. I used them to create this CSV file with 3 fields: Date, Blog and Source. The “Blog” field contains the name of the primary blog mentioned in “From the Blogosphere”. On rare occasions where 2 blogs are mentioned, 2 entries were added to the CSV file. I skimmed each article rather quickly, so I may have missed blogs that were mentioned in passing.

Next, a short R script:

library(ggplot2)
# read file, remove rows with no blog or source
posts <- read.csv("blogosphere.csv",header=T,check.names=F,na.strings="")
posts <- na.omit(posts)
# plot by blog name
png(filename="blogs.png",width=480,height=640)
qplot(posts$Blog,data=posts,xlab="Source",ylab="Number of mentions",geom="bar",main="By Blog") + geom_bar(fill="blue") + coord_flip()
dev.off()
# and plot by source name
png(filename="sources.png",width=640,height=480)
qplot(posts$Source,data=posts,xlab="Source",ylab="Number of mentions",geom="bar",main="By Source") + geom_bar(fill="blue")
dev.off()

Result:
FTB by source and blog
As I suspected, “From the Blogosphere” should really be called something else. “From the NPG stable”, perhaps? Only one blog post outside of Nature or Nature Network received a notable mention: Egon’s review of Nature Chemistry.

Given NPG’s excellent blog tracking effort, Nature Blogs, I suggest that “From the Blogosphere” be retired. Or at least, renamed to something less misleading.

9 thoughts on “From the “blogosphere”? Hardly.

  1. egonw

    Cool :)

    I rather see them site more blogs outside Nature Network (though I believe that is as much a blog host as Blogspot), than rename and refocus.

    And if they would want to refocus, I’d include other Social Media, like Twitter/Identica and FriendFeed (Rooms).

    BTW, great post!

  2. Alethea

    Chuckling disloyally. Wondering why you cared enough to write a script to test it, but I’ve always understood that “Blogosphere” implied a silent “Our network” beforehand.

    1. nsaunders Post author

      I wonder too :-) Well, I could just say “it seems to me that FTB articles comprise mainly Nature blogs”, but that’s not scientific, is it.

  3. Maxine

    From the blogosphere is explicitly a round-up of what is on nature.com blogs, either staff blogs or on nature network. All you needed to do was to ask us before writing this post ;-) I’m no longer writing FTB but I’m the editor who inaugurated it – for a while I mirrored it on Nature Network and the extra space allowed there for a strapline stated explicitly that the feature was a collection of nature.com blog posts of relevance to authors/readers of the journals – many of whom don’t participate in the social web.

    1. nsaunders Post author

      Thanks Maxine, I know the history of FTB.

      This is a light-hearted post (I hope everyone gets that!) but to be semi-serious, I disagree that FTB is “explicitly” a summary of NPG blogs. It’s called “From the Blogosphere” but the posts are not “from the blogosphere” – what’s explicit about that? You and I are familiar with what goes on at NPG, but is a casual reader coming off a web link?

  4. Stuart

    And in Nature Chemistry, we have a small column each month called ‘Blogroll’ that rounds up stories from the chemistry blogosphere…

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