Blogging to change a malpractice

In our training courses, participants often want to know how to start a blogsite. According to me, the best way to start is getting inspired by a great idea, or rather, by a strong drive to change a certain abuse.

One of the best examples of a research blogsite I have seen is the site/movie/blog/tweetaccount Theygotodie from epidemiologist  Jonathan Smith, lecturer at the Yale School of Public Health (US). Smith investigates the epidemiology of HIV and tuberculosis (TB) among mine workers in South Africa. These diseases are preventable, but many miners still die from them.

During his Phd research, Smith realized that nothing will change if he only publishes in peer reviewed journals. So he decided to mobilize people to improve the working conditions for the many thousands of people who continue to work in

South Africa’s mines. He first made a 4-minutes-movie (trailer), to attract funding for a larger project, a one-hour-documentary in which he should follow he life of four miners. He succeeded and now his group has a professional site with video’s, blogs and tweetaccounts. These provide news about the miners (some of them are already dead), and about the campaign- and research results.

So Smith’s’ blog is embedded  in a broader strategy to change an injustice, using science and other means. That seems successful: more awareness makes it more likely that mine companies and politicians improve the working conditions. And also more likely that the research – visible changing an injustice – can continue.