Monthly Archives: January 2011

Questions about ScienceSeeker? (Open forum)

Following the ScienceSeeker launch, I saw various questions about the site on Twitter. If you have questions, ask them here, and we will answer!

Some questions I can answer now: yes, there is a rudimentary API to let people access posts directly; I will post more about that later. Yes, we do want to make the code for the site re-usable by other communities, so it is not limited to science topics in theory (see the job listings — we are looking for someone to help usher the code through an open source release so that others can use it to set up similar sites about other topics).

What else do you want to know? Ask here.

Introducing ScienceSeeker

We’re pleased to announce the unveiling of the product of six months of planning and work by some very dedicated volunteers. ScienceSeeker (at, naturally, Scienceseeker.org) is a beta-level site; a work in progress, but we think it’s a very useful work even as it now stands. The project began as an extension of Science Blogging Aggregated, but quickly grew into an independent site.

The basic concept is simple: Find as many sources of regularly-updated science information as possible, and collect them all in one place. We believe that science blogs are currently the most robust and diverse source of science news, discussion, and commentary. They can offer a measured response to the myriads of self-promotional press releases that clutter newspapers and inboxes. Unfortunately, they are spread all about the internet, in dozens of blogging networks and hundreds, if not thousands, of independent science blogs. These blogs and networks aren’t organized by topic, which makes it difficult for someone looking for latest posts on, say, chemistry.

ScienceSeeker already catalogs over 400 blogs, and is set up so that anyone can add more blogs. Our editors will review any submission to make sure it’s really about science (and not spam), then approve it within 24 hours. Our aim is to be the most comprehensive and useful aggregator of science news, discussion, and commentary anywhere.

Take a look at the site and put it through its paces. We think you’ll agree that it’s one of the most useful and engaging science sites you’ve ever seen.

Click here to visit ScienceSeeker.

ScienceSeeker is an all-volunteer effort, and we intend to make it a formal, open-source project, allowing anyone to contribute enhancements. We have lots of ideas of what to do next, but we want to hear yours too. Feel free to offer suggestions in the comments.

ScienceSeeker needs YOU!

ScienceSeeker is an all-volunteer project, and it’s not finished yet! We are planning big things, but we can only do them with community support. We need both technical help to create the site, and editorial support to maintain quality.

If you’re interested in being an editor, please indicate your interest below or use the contact form to email us.

Our technical needs are more specific; the positions we need to fill are listed below. If you have technical questions, feel free to email jphekman@arborius.net (Jessica Hekman). She will be online during the conference and will try to answer all emails within a few hours (often within minutes).

* DB/MySQL geek

Review the SQL queries in our code base and tighten them up for speed and efficiency. Add indexes to the database to make it run faster. In general, be in charge the efficiency of the (MySQL) database.

* PHP programmer

Write PHP (mostly WordPress plugins) to add new functionality to ScienceSeeker, and to fix bugs. We can use multiple people in this position! Some knowledge of XML is useful but not essential.

* Release engineer

Set up a source code repository (probably subversion). Design and set up a better development environment (beta and live versions of the site). Chaperone an open source release of the code base.

* XML/XSL geek

Much of the behind the scenes work in ScienceSeeker is XML documents, and many of them are transformed to HTML via XSLT. Maintain the XSLT stylesheets and write new ones as needed. Extend the XML schemas (currently informal, but may be formalized in RELAX-NG or XSD if you prefer) to support more functionality as ScienceSeeker expands. This job may or may not overlap with the PHP programming job.