Monthly Archives: August 2010

Why Scientopia?

If you’re a reader who used to follow this blog on ScienceBlogs, odds are, you think that the reason Scientopia exists is because of the whole Pepsi incident. That did have something to do with the timing if this launch, but scientopia was in the works long before that happened.

When Seed started ScienceBlogs four years ago, they did something great. They showed us how science bloggers could come together into a virtual community. I don’t think that any of us had the idea of doing that before Christopher Mims started approaching us for Seed.
But fairly quickly, it became apparent that the community that seed was building couldn’t be the community that many of us really wanted. Part of that was due to Seed’s mismanagement. But the larger part came from the basic conflict between the needs and priorities of a media company versus the needs and priorities of a community of science bloggers.
The idea behind Scientopia is to build an online science community that is focused on the ┬ácommunity. We don’t have anyone outside the community deciding who gets to blog here, or what features we’ll add to the site, or whether to take ads/which ads to take. Here at Scientopia, the bloggers call the shots.
We also want to provide a better resource for you, our readers. Over the next few months, as time permit, we’ll be unveiling a lot of features geared towards making the site more fun and useful for you. We’ll be adding user forums, so that you’ll be able to have discussions that aren’t tied to a specific blogger of blog post. We’ll be adding a moderated wiki to host articles, by both bloggers and readers. We’ll be adding a variety of feed-based tools, to make it easy for you to follow what you want to follow.
At the moment, you’ll notice that there are no ads here. That’s not because we’re opposed to ads. We will, eventually, almost certainly have ads, to cover the cost of hosting and administration if nothing else. For now, there just wasn’t time to set up the infrastructure that we would need to be able to manage ads and money. But when we take ads, they’ll be as unobtrusive as possible, and we’ll do our best to prevent the worst garbage from showing up on your screens.
At the moment, I’m the sole administrator around here. I’ll do my best to keep everything running, and running smoothly. And I have to thank Scicurious for all of her help. When I started this, I sent an email around to a bunch of sciencebloggers to gauge interest, and Sci, despite the fact that she didn’t know me at all, popped up and volunteered to help. She’s done the bulk of the cat-herding while I’ve been doing the technical work. Scientopia wouldn’t be here today without her help.

Welcome! And a peek ahead.

Unfortunately, I don’t have any wonderful posts all ready for
our launch. At the moment, I’m the only administrator at Scientopia,
and I’ve been so busy working on just getting the site up and running
that I haven’t had any time to actually finish any posts.

But there’s stuff in progress! I’m working on two different series
of posts.

First, in my request for topics back at SB, a ton of you were interested
in topology. I’ve written about topology before, but it was four years ago
when GM/BM first moved to ScienceBlogs. So most of you guys probably
never got to read it. I’ll be taking those posts, updating them, and
reposting them.

The other series is on fuzzy logic. I really love logic – in particular,
I love what I call atypical logics – that is, logics that do something
different from basic propositional or predicate logic. Fuzzy logic is
particularly fun – it’s built around the fundamental idea of
vagueness. That is, what happens to concepts like “tallness”, where
there are some people who are clearly tall, and there are others
who are kind-of tall, and still others who clearly aren’t tall.
And yet, there’s absolutely no strict dividing line between those. But
capturing those in logic is difficult!

And, of course, if you’re doing fuzzy logic, you really need fuzzy set theory
underneath it. After all, in normal set theory, a predicate defines
a set. But if a predicate is completely true for some values, and it’s
only partly true for others, then what does a set mean? What does
membership mean?

We’ll find out soon!