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.
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.
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).
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).
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.
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).
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)