Goodbye PLOS Blogs, Welcome Github Pages

This is the last Gobbledygook post on PLOS Blogs, and at the same time the first post at the new Github blog location. I have been blogging at PLOS Blogs since the PLOS Blogs Network was launched in September 2010, so this step wasn’t easy. But I have two good reasons.

In May 2012 I started to work as technical lead for the PLOS Article-Level Metrics project. Although this is contract work, and I also do other things – including spending 5% of my time as clinical researcher at Hannover Medical School – this created the awkward situation that I was never quite sure whether I was blogging as Martin Fenner or as someone working for PLOS. This was all in my head, as I never had any restrictions in my blogging from PLOS. With the recent launch of the PLOS Tech Blog there is now a good venue for the kind of topics I like to write about, and I have started to work on two posts for this new blog.

There will always be topics for which the PLOS Tech Blog is not a good fit, and for these posts I have launched the new personal blog at Github. But the main reason for this new blog is a technical one: I’m moving away from blogging on WordPress to writing my posts in markdown (a lightweight markup language), that are then transformed into static HTML pages using Jekyll and Pandoc. Last weekend I co-organized the workshop Scholarly Markdown together with Stian Haklev. A full workshop report will follow in another post, but the discussions before, at and after the workshop convinced me that Scholarly Markdown has a bright future and that it is time to move more of my writing to markdown. At the end of the workshop each participant suggested a todo item that he/she would be working on, and my todo item was “Think about document type where MD shines”. Markdown might be good for writing scientific papers, but I think it really shines in shorter scientific documents that can easily be shared with others. And blog posts are a perfect fit.

The new site is work in progress. Over time I will copy over all old blog posts from PLOS Blogs, and will work on the layout as well as additional features. Special thanks to Carl Boettiger for helping me to get started with Jekyll and Github pages.

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6 Responses to Goodbye PLOS Blogs, Welcome Github Pages

  1. No matter where you go, we’ll follow you, Martin. 😉

    I have started using MarkDown and loving it so far…

  2. David Kroll says:

    Good luck, Herr Doktor! I’ve enjoyed my time writing beside you while I was here and will certainly follow you to your new site.

  3. Peter says:

    May I ask the heretical question: why not use markdown here?

  4. Martin Fenner says:

    Thank you Kaveh and David. Peter, I could of course use markdown here. But when I realized that I wanted to start a personal blog, I felt that using a static blog site generator such as jekyll made the most sense for me, in particular as it is a great platform to experiment. I thought about going to Medium, as I like the reading experience and the commenting.

  5. Peter says:

    Ah, I didn’t get that you’re also making it more of a personal blog! That makes a lot of sense then :)

  6. Martin Fenner says:

    I would say the new blog became a technology experimentation lab, and that also includes MathJax support. Something that is difficult to do on a shared blogging platform.