The future of Brave New Climate

Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.  ― Lao Tzu

The Brave New Climate (BNC) blog has seen many changes in its almost 4 years of existence. I’d like to think of this as an evolutionary process — underpinned by a natural selection of ideas and advocacy based on what I think is important and workable, framed in the context of identifying viable options for global climate change mitigation. As the quote above emphasizes, this flows naturally from a progress of thought and effort.

A few years ago I announced a shift in focus on the website, in the post ‘A necessary interlude‘. Now things on BNC are changing again.

In summary, the motivation for the new changes are: (i) time limitations, (ii) audience outreach and (iii) freedom and flexibility. I’ll first explain what is going to happen, and then elaborate a little on the justification.

1. A BNC Discussion Forum has been established. This will, hereafter, be the main place for comments.

2. A new website — KnowMoreFearLess.com [KMFL] — will be launched (currently locked and under development). This will be focused on public education on nuclear power for greenhouse gas mitigation.

3. The Front Page of the bravenewclimate.com website will become a semi-static PORTAL page. This will include fixed links to the BNC Discussion Forum (see 1), the BNC archives (after some further indexing and re-organisation of this page), KMFL, and also provide a summary (with links) to the latest BNC blog post.

4. The flow of BNC blog postings will be less frequent and more opportunistic — rather than regular and scheduled (the historic rate was a post every 3-5 days).

The BNC twitter feed (microblogging) will not change in character or frequency — mostly consisting of up-to-date links to articles on climate change and low-carbon energy.

Okay, now some explanation on these changes.

Discussion Forum:

The BNC forum is broken up into categories, boards, sub-boards and topics (posts). If you’ve used other forums, you will be familiar with this layout. (The style and layout will update over time, as I have time to work on it and better understand my design options).

As described here, I’m hoping to eventually transition all commentary from the BNC blog over to the Discussion Forums. Of course there is some risk that this will dilute and fragment the BNC community, but like most things in life, big decisions usually involve some trade-offs.

Advantages

Comment preview (see what your post looks like, before you post it).

A large array of icon- and code-driven formatting tools.

After-posting editing capability (fix those typos yourself!).

(None of that is possible on WordPress.com)

The inbuilt search capability is extremely thorough and fast. Searching user comments (rather than main posts) is difficult and limited on WordPress.com

The BNC community can easily create their own content by starting a new topic in the appropriate board.

Easy to keep individual discussion streams on-topic and in-context (by posting in the correct board, the post is automatically classified).

Disadvantages

Commenting is on a different site to the blog post (so people might not bother to click through)

Other? (not sure)

For the type of forum, I assessed both self-hosted and remotely hosted options. There are definitely pros and cons to both approaches. I ended up going for the remotely hosted forum for a number of reasons, including cost, ease of use, security, bandwidth, reliability, etc. For that I was willing to forego some of the freedoms associated with phpbb3 etc. Ultimately, there is no right approach.

I chose ProBoards.com as the host because it is feature rich, stable and very well established. So it’s not likely to vanish or change its policies suddenly. When I set up BraveNewClimate.com, I chose WordPress.com as the host for similar reasons to the above, rather than going with the self-hosted blog option via WordPress.org. I’ve not regretted that decision, although I’ve sometimes found it limiting. Once again, we return to the matter of trade offs!

As to the speed of the transition, I don’t expect the commenting to switch completely from blog to forum overnight. To facilitate the cross-communication, each new BNC post will include (in a prominent place) a link to a new forum post where the discussion of that post can unfold — or branch out into other boards on the forum, as the discussion evolves.

Note on BNC forum use: To start using the forum, you will need to complete a one-off site registration (about 25 people have already done this). Once registered, you just need to be logged in to create new topics or post replies. (If you are not logged in, you can still reply, but you will need to complete an annoying anti-bot security check each time you post, so I don’t recommend this.) The forum’s comments policy are here — they are similar to the BNC blog rules. You can jump straight to the latest posts by clicking here (newest threads).

KnowMoreFearLess.com:

The focus of this KMFL initiative is to achieve effective and wide public outreach, as per the identified BNC target audience. There is a team of enthusiastic and talented people already working on this website behind the scenes. The aim of KMFL is to avoid technical jargon or detailed prose and instead concentrate on iconography (here is an example of the intended style), easy-to-understand figures and tables, as well as short video, audio and text summaries of key questions on nuclear energy and its role in climate-change mitigation.

Those who know most about climate change are the most worried. Yet with nuclear power, those who know the most are the least frightened. Nuclear Energy – know more, fear less!

I can’t provide many more details at this stage, but if the concept appeals to you and you think you’d like to get more involved, let me know via email and we’ll discuss possible roles.

PORTAL:

The portal (home page) will point visitors directly to the key BNC content (via icons and text) — the community home (Discussion Forum), the huge wealth of accumulated information (a well-indexed BNC archive, covering the last 3+ years of material), the easy-to-understand public outreach and education site (KMFL), and the current blog focus (most recent post). The port link to the most recent BNC post will include its title, an image, and a 1-2 sentence précis of the content.

The existing sidebars will remain, so people can quickly access any of the 15 most-recent posts from that list, as before (this will be promoted to higher on the sidebar than currently, to make it more prominent/accessible).

Blogging frequency:

I have at least a dozen half-finished articles in the publishing pipeline, but it’s hard to give any one of them enough time to really do them justice. So, rather than feeling the pressure to get something (anything), out every 3-5 days, I really liked the blog to update more naturally — when stuff is ready, and not before!

Of  course, when something especially topical comes up in the news (e.g. the recent Economist special issue), or when I’ve published an essay or article in a public document, then I’ll put it up on BNC quickly. But otherwise, my motto will be ‘posts will happen when they can happen‘. So sometimes there might be two blog entries posted in one week, and at other times, I might not be able to post anything for 3 — 4 weeks or more. It will all depend on time available and readiness of material.

However, because of the way the BNC Discussion Forum is envisaged to work, I’d hope that this reduction in blogging frequency won’t kill the activity of the BNC community. This is because, using the forum, it is now much easier for people to create their own content (posts) within the BNC climate-energy context.

———————

I trust that BNC readers understand an appreciate the changes described above. These will be implemented during the next few weeks. However, it may be a month or two before the launch of the KMFL website — I will do a blog post on it here on the BNC blog, and announce it on the BNC forum, when that site is ready to go!

Feedback on these changes is, as always, welcome — especially over on the BNC Forum! (this is the post linked to this blog entry)

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32 Comments

  1. as the editor for things worse than nuclear power, we are excited to see your new website, know more fear less. It is important to have as many people as possible out there tackling irrational fears of radiation and similar topics and putting them into contexts that people understand. Great work!

    Like

  2. Thanks for all that you have done, and will continue to do, to restore integrity to science.

    I too like the message in the title, “Know More, Fear Less”. That agrees with my observations on the journey through life.

    Like

  3. It sounds good to me. In spite of the fact that my comments are no longer welcome, this is a great site for keeping up with what is going on. Thank you for all you have done to bring common sense to public policy

    I will continue to recommend it to anyone who shows interest in being better informed about energy options.
    MODERATOR
    GC – Thanks for your comment. Head on over to the new BNC Forum and have a look. We are sure you will find boards to post on that will suit you including a sub-board set-up for sceptical opinion of AGW/CC here:
    http://bravenewclimate.proboards.com/index.cgi?board=sceptics

    Like

  4. Unfortunately the sudden switch to black on red and white on black over on BNC Forum makes everything almost impossible for me to read, much less write. There is a good reason for black on white with some pastel green tint background to emphsize certain aspects. As it is, with my old astigmatic eyesight I won’t be able to participate.

    Like

  5. It’s currently orange and white text on a grey/black background — there is no red text. But I’ll be experimenting with various pre-built designs/skins over the next week or two, so this is not locked in.

    For now, if you are having trouble reading it David, try highlighting the relevant text (use your mouse to click and drag to highlight text) – you will be able to read it then (depending on your browser, it will probably then look like white text on blue background).

    Also, as a general point, whenever anything changes on websites, it invariably doesn’t suit some people. With the default forum template, I got bombarded with complaints via email along the lines of it looking like something out the 1980s, ugly UI, garish graphical elements, horrible typography, clashing colors, aggressive gradient fills, etc. So things definitely had to change.

    But as to what the final design will be, well, that is ‘up in the air’, and if you have suggestions (you can Google search for “proboards custom skin” or similar), let me know (these are easily previewed on their hosted sites), and I’ll check it out!

    http://bravenewclimate.proboards.com/index.cgi?action=display&board=general&thread=16&page=1#ixzz1tJAFCouS

    Like

  6. Several people have been experiencing some difficulty with the formatting on the new BNC Discussion Forum.
    The formatting works differently and is much simpler there once you know how. I am also on a steep learning curve:)

    What you have to do if you want to insert anything such as links, videos, quotes or bold /italic text etc is not use the “Quick Reply” box at the bottom of the page but go to the very top of the thread and click “Reply”. This opens a complete box which is headed with formatting buttons and emoticons. The buttons include Bold, Italics, Underline YouTube etc.

    Read more: http://bravenewclimate.proboards.com/index.cgi?board=general&action=display&thread=2&page=2#ixzz1tP1Sxhfj

    At the bottom of the comment box are more buttons which allow you to spellcheck, preview, modify etc before you send the comment.

    Like

  7. This helpful comment from DangerAus over at BNC Discussion Forum:

    The coding used on forums is no different to HTML. The only difference is that you use the square brackets “[ ]” rather than the
    angular brackets “”.

    For example:

    This sentence is no different to the following.

    This sentence is no different to the above.

    Also line breaks
    are not needed as the breaks you make while typing are retained. It’s easier to use square brakets as it eliminates a key press, as well as line breaks retaining while typing out paragraphs.

    If you’re not sure of the right code to use you can click on one of the butons in the “add tags” panel to insert it. Furthermore you can highlight words and then also click on the relevant tag. Much like in Microsoft Word.

    HTML is in a way retained, all you need to do is sub out the angular brackets for square ones.

    Read more: http://bravenewclimate.proboards.com/index.cgi?action=display&board=general&thread=2&page=2#ixzz1tP86kN8p

    Like

  8. Concerning registering on BNC Discussion Forum – this from Barry:

    To start using the forum, you will need to complete a one-off site registration. Once registered, you just need to be logged in
    to create new topics or post replies.

    If you are not logged in, you can still reply, but you will need to complete an annoying anti-bot security check each time you post, so I don’t recommend this. Also, none of your posting history will be recorded if you’re not logged in.

    Regarding user names on registration – these need to be one word and do not allow white spaces, periods etc. e.g.climatechangesceptic not climate change sceptic or Climate Change Sceptic

    HOWEVER, once you have created your profile, you can modify it and add your “Display Name” — this can be in any format you want, and include spaces and periods, etc. A few people have done this already, and it makes recognising you much easier!

    The forum’s comments policy is here:
    http://bravenewclimate.proboards.com/ind….isplay&thread=3

    You can jump straight to the latest posts by clicking here (newest threads):
    http://bravenewclimate.proboards.com/index.cgi?action=newestthreads

    Read more: http://bravenewclimate.proboards.com/index.cgi?board=general&action=display&thread=16#ixzz1tPDuS0Ig

    Like

  9. Some folk over on the BNC Discussion Forum are lamenting the lack of an Open Thread. Actually you get many Open Threads on the Forum :)

    Comments of a general nature on a topic, which do not fit into any of the sub-boards, should be posted directly to the main board which may be considered as a type of Open Thread on that subject.

    e.g. Main board = SUSTAINABILITY ISSUES

    Sub-boards:

    Anthropocene Extinction
    Behavioual Mitigation Strategies
    Population Limits

    Discussion on sustainability issues not fitting any of the sub-boards may be posted with general comments which appear under the sub-board list.

    Read more: http://bravenewclimate.proboards.com/index.cgi?board=bncforumabout&action=display&thread=37#ixzz1tPpDq75b

    Like

  10. Head over to BNC Discussion forum to comment on these new threads

    Can eating less meat solve climate change

    People have strong opinions about a vegetarian lifestyle but are we all prepared to cut our meat/dairy intake substantially to assist in the fight against climate change and would it actually also benefit our health and have an impact on cancer statistics.

    Read more: http://bravenewclimate.proboards.com/index.cgi?board=miti&action=display&thread=38#ixzz1tQDcasTS

    Global Water Cycle doubles in intensity

    Recent research by the CSIRO indicates an increase in ocean salinity has shown a strong intensification of the global water cycle over the period 1959-2000. In fact it is double the previously predicted rate.

    Read more: http://bravenewclimate.proboards.com/index.cgi?board=science&action=display&thread=39#ixzz1tQEZsdFd

    Like

  11. I like the change. I can see myself going round the streets of Melbourne with a stencil late at night spraying “knowmorefearless.com” on walls (don’t worry, this isn’t actually going to happen).

    But I’m not very happy with the ProBoards design you’ve got going, but I hear that it will change. For one thing, the main frame uses less than half my screen real estate, it’s a silly central column with way too much blue on either side.

    The important buttons just below the banner (“home” etc), white on pale blue, are too small and too hard to see in those colours.

    I have absolutely no idea what the icons in the left hand pane are supposed to mean.

    The black outlining on the white font on the blue background for the reply button etc makes it look like the mid-90s.
    MODERATOR
    Thanks for the feedback however it would be a good idea to also post it on the BNC Discussion Forum under the Suggestions for BNC Forum Thread. You know the old saying – you can’t please all of the people …… well our weekend has been a bit like that:) We have tried several skins (it takes ages to track down and try new skins) and have not yet found one that everyone can handle. The main complaint from commenters when we tried a darker background or white/yellow text on darker backgrounds was that it was too hard to read – and looked like a doomers game site! BNC’s biggest demographic seems to be those of senior years (I’m one too) and eyes age along with the rest of us.
    Everyone please have patience as we get through the teething period. Any suggestions for modern skins which have black text on a lighter background will be considered.

    Like

  12. It seems about the right width to me (and yes, it does take up less than half the width of my screen, I’d say a bit more than half the browser window, maybe ⅔, though for computer use monitors around Full HD or so are really at the point at which you often can’t have two things visible at once and they’re too wide for text to be easily read if it takes up the whole screen so necessitating all that wasted space).
    MODERATOR
    Thanks Anon – we came to the same conclusions re width. Also thankyou for posting some great comments over on the BNC Discussion Forum.

    Like

  13. Today’s new topics over on the BNC Discussion Forum:

    Thermal store on nuclear power plants

    Plutonium and proliferation

    Earth Institute Director backs Nuclear

    Energy Efficient Vehicles

    Most commented on:

    The natural limits of economic growth

    Debunking Anti-nuke Misinformation

    What volume of future synthetic hydrocarbon fuels?

    Nuclear reactor meltdown

    Hop on over to http://bravenewclimate.proboards.com/index.cgi?action=newestthreads and join in the discussion.

    Like

  14. Just to let you know – I think the Discussion Forum is great!
    It is a good idea which allows anyone to start a topic that interests them, instead of waiting for a blog post to comment on. BNC is even better! Thankyou.

    Like

  15. A forum tab at the top of the frontpage would be very useful.
    MODERATOR
    Hi Speedy – you will find a clickable link to the forum on the left-hand side bar.
    Very soon Barry is planning to re-design the BNC Home page as a portal which will have links to the forum, BNC blog posts, KnowMoreFearLess website etc.

    Like

  16. Barry,
    FWIW, I created the Open Science Webring tool “CA Assistant” to help solve at least the first two WordPress problems in your list:

    Comment preview (see what your post looks like, before you post it).
    A large array of icon- and code-driven formatting tools.

    Enabling it on BNC works perfectly to give me button based bold, italic, , super and sub scripting, and much more.

    By no means does it solve all of the problems, and I commend you on adding a forum. But if you are interested/willing, I could add your site to the official site list and those who want improved blog post browsing and editing could benefit.

    Like

  17. Pingback: BNC Discussion Forum updates « BraveNewClimate

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