Blogs tend to be ephemeral. They are usually presented as a constant stream of novel contents, where the most recent posts are easily seen but the older posts can be difficult to discover. Even when blogs have excellent archive and search functions, I often wonder whether I have seen all the relevant posts on a topic. And the larger and more active a blog, the more of an issue it becomes. For example, one of my favorite blogs, Mark’s Daily Apple, updates daily and contains thousands of interesting posts. Its archive lists posts by a variety of different criteria, and its search function generally returns relevant hits. Nevertheless, I often have difficulty finding my way around that blog. I’m never really sure that I’ve read the most important articles on a given topic, in the right order.
I would like my blog to have more permanence, and over time to develop into a useful resource that covers in depth a variety of important topics. As a first step towards this goal, I’m introducing a new section to the blog, Virtual Books. In this section, I am collecting blog posts into chapters of related topics, and the chapters into books. Think of the whole experiment as books that you can read as they are being written. As of today, there are two such virtual books in that section, Scientific Writing and Professional Development as a Scientist. For these two, I feel that I now have sufficient material online that organizing it more systematically makes sense. Over time, as I keep blogging on different topics, I’ll probably add a few more virtual books on different topics.
We’ll see how it goes. Let me know what you think. And also, let me know if you’d like me to post on a specific topic.