Monday, May 02, 2005

The evolution of a blog

A month ago, this blog contained the musings of a small number of people about the future of LANL in science, in national security, and in its continuing health. Now that Bill Broad’s article has been published, this blog is visible around the world. Its hit rate has increased ten fold. The most recent people browsing the site are reading many pages. They include a few people from other parts of the world, people from LANL’s competitors, people from LANL’s funding agencies, and people from potential bidders on the LANL contract. They include friends and enemies.

1. Should the articles on the blog or the comments on the articles change in the realization of this new audience?
2. Should the blog become more sophisticated, for instance having a way to find postings by topic, in order to present a good impression on our expanded audience?

I would appreciate clear discussion on these points.




I think your thesis that the content or format of the blog should change due to a change in audience is, well, silly. People who have a vested interest in the Nanos fiasco, the DOE contract competition fiasco, and or the lack of management from UC fiasco use the blog to communicate with each other. The fact that readership has increased is interesting in an esoteric sort of way, but has little to do with the problems at hand.

To be more clear and concise the answer to your questions are;

1. NO
2. NO

“I would appreciate clear discussion on these points.” Unbelievable
11:10 PM: I wouldn't dismiss this out of hand.

Yes, the blog has been a great means of communication amongst LANL insiders. But is also a forum for getting the story out to the wider world, especially since the NY Times article put the spotlight on us.

Thanks to outsiders reading and posting on this blog, we now have the beginnings of some concrete information on Nanos's prior management crimes at Navy labs. I had heard rumors of this, but now we're finally getting some Navy insiders fleshing out the story. A pattern of serial destruction of formerly highly effective organizations is emerging in Nanos's record. With Nanos's history finally becoming known, the oft-repeated assertions that LANL's problem with Nanos lies with thin-skinned, whining LANL employees, rather than with Nanos himself, is rapidly losing credibility.

We are also getting much wider press coverage now, and this is our best hope for derailing the forces that hope to destroy LANL.

So the easier it is for outsiders to access the key points of the blog, and the more positive impression about the LANL workforce the blog conveys, the better.

Eric's point #2 touches on a frustration I've been feeling with this blog. It's gotten too darn big, and topics are all mixed up. Directing someone to a particularly good post, or even finding it again, is very difficult. Some kind of index would be great, but that requires a lot of work.

To ensure that whatever press attention we get is positive, it would be helpful to direct newcomers to some sort of organized selected subset of the increasingly chaotic maze of posts. Someone on another thread suggested a "Best of" collection of particularly well-written and well-thought-out posts, highlighted by a sidebar link. I think that's an excellent idea. Maybe we could help Doug out by providing links to our favorites.

A "best of" list broken down into topics -- Nanos, the shutdown, the contract competition, the expected mass exodus, the LANL story in a wider political context, humor, etc. -- would give the newcomer an even clearer view of what we're all about here.
Having retired from the Lab some time ago, I find the blog embarrassing now that the NYT has publicized it and the world is looking in.

The obsession with negative portrayals of Nanos, the unthinking desire for "a man on a white horse," and the inability to provide constructive suggestions for ways forward do not speak well for Lab employees.

Occasional surfacing of larger issues is too often met with jeering and whining.

Is this really what the Lab has degenerated to, or does this blog represent only a few people, those who choose the negative?
6:34, That's right. As Kevin Roark (official lab PR spokesperson) will hasten to tell you, the blog is populated by "just a few, highly vocal malcontented people". In fact (going into whisper mode now) it's probably just Doug making all the postings.

Everybody else is perfectly happy here.
Thanks for making my point, 7:06. I'd still like to know how many Lab people actually post here and how many share their opinions. Just a question, not the inference you are so ready to make.
"We are also getting much wider press coverage now, and this is our best hope for derailing the forces that hope to destroy LANL."
Are we really getting out the message that LANL needs to be saved,no. We come across as a bunch of whining people whose only concern is their retirement. We can rant and rave at what we have given up to protect this land but the sad fact is the people who we need to save us preceive us as a bunch of whiners. So people let us start to come up with some good constructive ideas that show what we preceive us to be not what we are preceived to be by the rest of the US.
In response to 10:23, I ask how we can
form constructive plans if we are all individuals who are anonymous to each other.
If anyone wants to discuss a constructive plan with me, here is my number.

To 9:58 --

I would like to know as well. The fact is, that of the roughly 6,000 current submissions to the blog (comments + post submissions) the overwhelming majority are fully anonymous by the time I receive them. There truly is no way to know how many distinct individuals have posted to this blog, nor is there any way to get a histogram of posting frequency. When asked by Bill Broad, science journalist for the NYT what my "gut feeling" was regarding the number of distinct posters, I said between 200 and 500. Gary Stradling, for whatever reason, insists that it is between 12 and 20. The truth is nobody knows, nor will they ever. You can look at the variations of individual writing styles and formatting preferences and make your own conclusions, to include that they are all being done by me, if you like. Your estimate will be as good as anybody else's, (except for maybe Kevin and Gary's).

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