Engineering the Blogosphere
By Rhea Naidoo
Why engineers across the globe are choosing to connect and share online
With the rise of internet accessibility over the past few decades, the art and business of blogging has become commonplace. Budding writers are hoping to be noticed by publishers, entrepreneurs capitalizing on the marketing and economic opportunities of the ‘blogosphere’ (online blogging community) and everyday users wanting to connect with people and share experiences the world over. One thing that struck me, when I started blogging three years ago, however, is the scarcity of practicing engineers who engage in this medium. Excluding the highly-technical sites that turn a profit through advertisements on their blogs, it seems that today’s engineering society is more wary than their counterparts in other technical fields to share their passions, relating to personal and career related experiences musings.
Although this might spark an interesting debate on the reasons that people feel the need to share their thoughts on this type of public platform, and why in particular, engineers don’t; this article instead looks to showcase some of the top ‘personal’ engineering blogs out there, and shed some light into why these engineers have chosen to engage in this medium.
Curious Cat – Science and Engineering Blog
Rated the #1 engineering blog in overall ratings by Invesp.com, the Curious Cat blog by John Hunter explores ‘everyday engineering’ bringing science and technology into the home with topics ranging from bio-medical research to how over-fishing affects our lives. This blogger has an easy-going style where his personality still shines through the sometimes very technical content of his posts. At its heart, the blog is really about curiosity as a fundamental quality in human advancement – something to be applauded in peers and encouraged in children. As a result, you might find some curious posts thrown in between the scientific ones to keep one’s interest peaked.
Check him out at http://engineering.curiouscatblog.net/
"Death of the Party" Comic – Credit/Source: Wasted Talent, a webcomic by Angela Melick, Mechanical P.Eng, http://www.wastedtalent.ca
This blogger, who goes by the pseudonym “Jam”, has real artistic talent. Trained and working as an engineer, Jam felt that pursuing a technical career stifled her natural talent as an artist – something that caused much frustration and possibly even cynicism towards her career. On the other hand, had she pursued an artistic career, her technical abilities and potential to make a valuable contribution to society would have likewise been ‘wasted’. To enable her to continue exercising her artistic talent, she started the http://wastedtalent.ca blog and comic.
Easy to relate to and witty, with diverse content, wastedtalent.ca can prove to be the perfect slice of amusement to chuckle to between classes or meetings.
A good way to start your journey through the engineering blogosphere is to visit http://engineerblogs.org. This multi-disciplinary consortium of bloggers has a broad range of content to suit diverse interests. With blog styles ranging from highly technical to academic to reflections on what the life of an engineer is all about; engineerblogs.com affords commentary and opinion on most pertinent issues to engineers today.
The site showcases some of the best engineering writers out there, providing a common space on the web for engineering bloggers to share and connect.
Cooking for Engineers/The Art of Engineering
These fun sites display the diversity of interests held by engineers out there. Fuelling my long-standing belief that there is an inseparable link between art and engineering, as well as cooking and engineering, it's interesting to see how these site owners have reconciled their passions and their careers through an online platform. Engineering bloggers like these truly challenge stereotypes about engineers and present a far more attractive picture for prospective future engineers, whilst showcasing their abilities in fields outside engineering.
EngineerChic is a niche-blogger within an already narrow niche of engineering bloggers. Targeting young women entering into the engineering field, through fun and light-hearted posts, http://engineerchic.me relates personal experiences from the workplace in order to connect with similar women and girls around the world; encouraging them to continue striving through promising though challenging careers in engineering. Having experienced first-hand the real barriers women find when pursuing engineering degrees/ careers, EngineerChic – a mechanical engineer - purposes to shine a fuchsia light on a still largely ill-perceived career-path for women.
For something with more technical and political depth, http://metamorphs.blogspot.comhas a unique style with a free-flowing thought stream that will captivate those who love long, technical or political debates. With highly developed and interesting ideas on design, technology and education, metamorphs questions fundamental and widely-accepted ideas about how the organizations within the profession are structured and about the future of engineers and their roles in the world.
Engage with this blogger on twitter and expect a hearty response.
So there you have it – some of the top picks of engineering bloggers on the web. Diverse in personal style, content and purpose, these engineers have managed to find a common platform to express a creative and social aspect of their personalities that may be stifled due to the highly technical environments and circles in which they exist in reality.
Some tips for prospective bloggers:
- Try a free site with easy-to-use layouts and templates like wordpress.com or blogspot.com
- If you're struggling to find content – just start writing about your day, your car, even your dog! The hardest part is putting your first couple of posts out there
- Don't expect much traffic – at first don't expect anyone to visit your page - just continue posting and sharing on social media
- Tweet, tweet, tweet! The only way anyone is going to know you've posted is if you tell them
- Start a Facebook page and invite all your friends
- Read other blogs and comment, leaving your link