Bill Dennison's 500th Blog

Bill Dennison ·
8 March 2019
Science Communication | 

Since this is the 500th blog that I have posted to the Integration
and Application Network website, it seems appropriate to reflect on my blogs.
Originally, I was a reluctant blogger, and it took some time before Drs. Adrian
Jones, Peter Tuddenham and Bill Nuttle could convince me to start posting
blogs. My blogs started in earnest in 2011 when I was on sabbatical at the
International Water Centre in Brisbane, Australia. Once started, I have found
it very satisfying and useful to publish blogs for several reasons:

  1. The rigor of writing blogs
    helps me consolidate my thoughts
  2. Blogs document important
    milestones and I often look up previous blogs to check on dates and places
  3. My blogs include photos, maps
    and other visual elements, which help me recall the places and people I have
  4. I use my blogs as building
    blocks for various themes that I am developing, like environmental literacy,
    science communication or environmental report cards
  5. I use my blogs to capture
    some of the fun things like silly songs, poems, or limericks that I generate at
    various workshops that are not captured in any other way. My blogs are
    typically on the order of 600-900 words long with multiple visuals, including
    photos, maps and diagrams.

My Integration and Application Network blogs have three goals:

  1. Demonstrate IAN as a thought
    leader in the use of science for environmental management
  2. Capture the vibrancy of the
    IAN team in their global reach
  3. Share some of the fun
    activities and interesting people that we encounter in our travels

I have encouraged the rest of the IAN team to contribute blogs,
with our unofficial rule that if "You fly, you blog". The concept is that we
are constantly learning and meeting new partners which we can bring back and
share with the IAN team for group learning. I really enjoy reading the IAN
blogs, especially when they are enlivened with great photos.

The primary audience for my blogs is my IAN teammates and our
partners. Even if no one else read these blogs, I would still want to write
them, as they prove useful for our own documentation. It is a bonus that
various people around the world regularly read IAN blogs, and I enjoy meeting
people who tell me that they regularly read our blogs.

The top ten blogs in terms of views (2010-2017) are the following,
starting with the most popular:

1."It's all Greek to me: The terms praxis and phronesis in environmental philosophy", published in 2013. This blog was part of a series that was used in the book that I co-authored with Peter Oliver "Dancing with Dugongs: Having fun and developing a practical philosophy for environmental teaching and research." 'Praxis' and 'Phronesis' were two of Peter's favorite Aristotelian words and I enjoyed talking about these concepts with Peter and developing diagrams of these words.

2. "Great Barrier Reef literacy", published in 2013. This blog was the second environmental literacy blog that I wrote, based on my reef perspectives gained during the year I spent living on the Great Barrier Reef during my ten year tenure at the University of Queensland.

Satellite view of Great Barrier Reef

3. "Brisbane 2011: Living with floods and dancing with dugongs. Part 8. Examples of flooding in Europe," published in 2012. At the end of my 2011 sabbatical in Brisbane, I gave a summary talk at the historic Customs House in Brisbane, which I ended with a rendition of "Dugong Rock" where I donned a dugong costume.

The Thames barrier (credit: the MIT Club of Great Britain)

4. "Chesapeake literacy," published in 2010. This was the first environmental literacy blog that I published, inspired by the Ocean Literacy website that our College of Exploration colleagues produced.

Chesapeake Bay and Watershed
Chesapeake Bay and watershed (from IAN newsletter, Healthy Chesapeake Waterways, 2002)

5. "Creating a global symbol language," published in 2011. This thought piece makes the case that the IAN symbol library is organically developing a global symbol language which is culture and language independent.

Symbol downloads map
World map of IAN Symbol Library downloads.

6. "Erasmus Mundas thesis defense in Faro Portugal," published in 2010. With Dr. Alice Newton, I co-supervised a graduate student, Ivan Sekovski, in the European Union sponsored Erasmus Mundas program and then attended his thesis defense at the University of Algarve in Faro, Portugal.

Ivan Sekovski
Ivan Sekovski presenting his Erasmus Mundus thesis defense at the University of Algarve, Faro, Portugal

7. "Isaac Newton: A solitary genius," published in 2014. This blog was one in the "Scientists who made a difference" series. The accompanying blog is 'The art and poetry of Isaac Newton." I enjoyed reading about iconic scientists who created global paradigm shifts.

Godfrey Kneller's 1689 portrait of Isaac Newton
A 1689 portrait of Isaac Newton by Godfrey Kneller. Source: Wikipedia

8. "Top ten conceptual diagrams: seagrasses, streams, eco-rhythms," published in 2013. I created a blog series of top ten lists (like in the blog you are reading now) and this list of favorite conceptual diagrams features some iconic diagrams.

Moreton Bay indicators diagram
Conceptual diagram of Moreton Bay showing the major indicators as recognized in the management objectives.

9. "Samoa: Tsunamis, coral reefs, fishing, dredging," published in 2012. I have produced several travel blogs and Samoa was one of the more interesting places that I had the good fortunate to visit, stimulated by the presence of Tim Carruthers and David Haynes who were working at the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme.

samoa crown of thorns
Crown of thorns seastar on southern Upolu Island reef affected by tsunami

10. "Australian cities and waterways: Brisbane, Moreton Bay, and the Brisbane River," published in 2011. As a part of my 2011 Australian sabbatical, I had opportunities to visit most of the Australian capital cities and I created a series of blogs about the cities and their iconic waterways. This blog about Brisbane was one that I knew the most about.

Story Bridge
Story Bridge over the Brisbane River.

Note, the most popular blogs in terms of number of views is skewed
toward the blogs that have been online for several years, which is the likely
explanation of the most popular blogs were posted between 2010-2014. On
reflection, I am glad that the most popular blogs represent a diversity of
different types of blogs that I have produced.

About the author

Bill Dennison

Dr. Bill Dennison is a Professor of Marine Science and Vice President for Science Application at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (UMCES). Dr. Dennison’s primary mission within UMCES is to coordinate the Integration and Application Network.

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