Why this blog?

In research there is never enough time to see every interesting idea through to a satisfactory conclusion. In an ideal world there would be time to read around the idea, to discuss it with colleagues, and to think. There would then be resources available to carry out some research to test the idea or explore it further – perhaps involving some fieldwork or more time in the library. Finally, if all that went well and the results were promising, there would be enough time to write up the findings and publish them in a highly respected academic journal, where they would be read by other academics and perhaps even some influential people.

Life is not like that.  We read things that interest or excite us, we talk about them briefly, or jot down notes or scribble on the margins of papers.  And there they sit. Working in an applied interdisciplinary field as we do, we often want to talk about what we are reading and thinking with people in different disciplines, and there is never enough time to find them and correspond.  The result is probably familiar to every researcher: our desks are piled with  good ideas in various states of readiness, waiting for a gap between lectures, meetings or marking to receive the attention they deserve.  The gap never materialises, the ideas keep coming and the notes pile up.  We find our high ideas-to-papers ratio deeply frustrating.

We hope that this blog will give a new way to think ideas through, and to find people to share them with.  We hope it will let us develop and share ideas more easily and more quickly than writing an academic journal paper or book. We  also hope that we can stimulate some feedback and debate on what we write. Is it a good idea? Does the argument miss the point? Does the idea make a good blog post, but nothing more?  Is it something that somebody else has already looked at, or people in another discipline have analysed to death ? Or might it actually be a rather good idea that needs to be followed up with more thorough research? If it is worth more attention, by us or someone else, maybe discussion on the blog can help to shape the research by identifying pitfalls or key challenges.

We both work on the conservation of biodiversity and its relationship to society. We intend our posts to this blog to be relevant to this general theme, although we do not rule out the odd foray into less familiar territory. We hope that we will find readers, and that you will find the blog interesting. If so, please do write some comments so we know you are out there, and please do share the blog with others.

Chris Sandbrook & Bill Adams

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this blog are our own, and do not necessarily reflect those of our employers.

5 thoughts on “Why this blog?

  1. How i agree with you! of course this is coming from a rather inexperienced conservation scientist who found it hard to learn that a lot of people are not really interested in exploring the relationship between conservation and social welfare of the local populations were conservation should be carried out. I’ll be following you happily, sort of my connection to what used to be my world and what actually is my passion: conservation and sustainable social development. Thanks!

  2. Thanks for sharing your insights both of you. I think somehow we all have the same thoughts about different issues. Whether is education, science, technology but our system is so confined neutral and normal. But people are aware about their own thoughts that is when social-evolution processes start to take shape. Thanks again!

  3. Your reflective tone and sense of regret at what might have been (or at least that’s what they seem like to me!) in the researcher’s Utopia is likely to strike chords with anyone who’s had time to pause for a while during the mad rush to do big things (publish in a respected academic journal, say :D) and wonder, ‘What am I doing’, ‘Why am I doing this’, ‘In the end, will this all mean anything’ etc. I guess interdisciplinarity is the IN thing these days, though it’s frustratingly complicated and very inefficient way to go about doing your research. But in the end, I guess anything worthwhile takes time. You’ve got me hooked with the content on this page. I hope I’ll be able to make time to visit more often. Kudos and good luck.

  4. I don’t feel that I’m “out there”, as you put it, so much as “in here”, but it’s all a matter of perspective. As, I suppose, is the difference between wanting to understand “the conservation of biodiversity and its relationship to society” and wanting to know how to develop “a mutually beneficial relationship between humans and the rest of nature”, which is how I might try to characterise my interest. The word “conservation” creates in my mind a vision of fences and otherness, a place where legislation gives nature certain limited rights not to be rooted out. It seems to set aside a bit of the world for special treatment, just as a library might conserve rare books, or a museum conserve someone else’s Marbles. And the word “biodiversity” – well, too much ink has been jetted in that discussion; it’s not a good word – too alien, too remote, too arcane, too sciencey. My preferred formulation may seem more action oriented than academic, but it contains the need for a good deal of research into what might constitute mutual benefit. The research obviously includes the need to think about who benefits, what benefit consists of, and what time frame we might be thinking about – in other words, that formulation makes it clear that we need to understand how to sustain the human species in a living world.
    – Martin

    • Martin, I think you make a really good point here.
      “A mutually beneficial relationship between humans and the rest of nature” is the perspective I am taking with my own farm. Instead of conserve Nature, I am attempting to converse with Nature. I am currently carrying out a conservation grazing trial over 50 acres and watching how everything interacts. It is fascinating.
      Fiona

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