ScienceOnline2012 – interview with Joe Kraus

Every year I ask some of the attendees of the ScienceOnline conferences to tell me (and my readers) more about themselves, their careers, current projects and their views on the use of the Web in science, science education or science communication. So now we continue with the participants of ScienceOnline2012. See all the interviews in this series here.

Today my guest is Joe Kraus (blog, Twitter).

Welcome to A Blog Around The Clock. Would you, please, tell my readers a little bit more about yourself? Where are you coming from (both geographically and philosophically)? What is your background? Any scientific education?

I was born and raised in Southern Wisconsin in the late 1960s and 1970s. I went to Beloit College from 1985-1989 (with a short stint of engineering education in 1988) where I got my BS in Physics. Once I graduated college, my interests turned to astronomy for a time when I worked for a high end amateur telescope manufacturing company. My wife got her Masters in Statistics, and we ended up moving to Maryland just outside of Washington DC in 1991. There was a small recession going on, and I had a hard time finding a professional job with only a BS.

I always liked computers and libraries, and in the early 1990s I learned more about this new/old thing called the Internet. In 1993, I started the second phase of my life by attending graduate school at the University of Maryland, College Park in Library & Information Science. After I got my MLS in 1995, we moved to northern Virginia for a little while where I was the engineering librarian at George Mason University. By 1997, we were still feeling a little claustrophobic in the Washington DC metro area. We were able to move out to Denver, Colorado in early 1998, and I have been at the University of Denver as the Science & Engineering Librarian since then.

Tell us a little more about your career trajectory so far: interesting projects past and present?

I have been involved in the Special Libraries Association (SLA) since 1995. I was the Chair of the Physics-Astronomy-Mathematics Division in 2007, and I was the Chair of the Sci-Tech Division in 2011. As chair of those two divisions, I provided program planning for two different annual SLA Conferences. With the rise of the social web, I have gotten more involved with other organizations, such as the Library Society of the World (LSW. With the help of several other LSW participants, we organized a library Unconference in 2008. In 2009, I joined the editorial staff and helped launch the Open Access journal Collaborative Librarianship. I also post items to the Collaborative Librarianship News blog. In 2010, I helped organize another unconference, but this one was targeted to science and engineering librarians. We are organizing the 2nd STELLA Unconference later this year in New York City.

What is taking up the most of your time and passion these days? What are your goals?

As the Science & Engineering Librarian at DU, I help a lot of students and faculty learn about and use scientific databases and journals. I have also been writing and reading about scholarly communications issues. I have a passion for blogging and telling people about the wonderful world of science.

What aspect of science communication and/or particular use of the Web in science interests you the most?

The Internet is such an awesome way for people to share information and connect with one another. I am particularly interested in advocating for Open Access (and other cost-effective methods) to journal articles and Open Data proposals.

How does (if it does) blogging figure in your work? How about social networks, e.g., Twitter, Google Plus and Facebook? Do you find all this online activity to be a net positive (or even a necessity) in what you do?

I am on a lot of social networks, but the ones I find the most useful are Friendfeed, Twitter, and Diigo for tagging articles. My two main blogs are and Most of the social networks I use are marked at

When and how did you first discover science blogs? What are some of your favorites? Have you discovered any cool science blogs by the participants at the Conference?

First off, I would like to thank Christina Pikas for introducing me to you and to many other science bloggers. Of the Science Online Librarian group, I highly recommend others follow Stephanie Willen Brown, John Dupuis, Bonnie Swoger, and Kiyomi Deards.

What was the best aspect of ScienceOnline2012 for you? Any suggestions for next year? Is there anything that happened at this Conference – a session, something someone said or did or wrote – that will change the way you think about science communication?

This is the best conference concerning the scientific communication industry. It has a great mix of people from science journalism, science publishers, science book authors, scientists, science bloggers, and science librarians. Concerning next year, I would like to see the topic of Open Access and Open Data addressed. We should have an update session concerning the “Declaration of Independence” from Elsevier.

I have two take-aways from the 2012 conference. 1) I enjoyed using the electrical outlets that were available in the middle of the seating sections. The person who duck taped all of the extension cords and 6 outlet power strips deserves a raise. This allowed people to live tweet and live blog the conference without fear of draining a battery. 2) I found the discussion of the conflict between science journalists (who paraphrase scientists for a lay audience) and the scientists (who write for narrow specialized audiences) to be productive. Both sides now have a better understanding of the views of the other.

Overall, I find this conference to be essential in my quest to better understand the scientific communication process. I am looking forward to coming back to North Carolina again in 2013. Many thanks go to Bora (and Anton and Karyn and many others) for putting together such a great conference.

Thank you! Hope to see you again in January.


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