I first met the friend who’s going to try learning R over the summer by way of a blog that she and a mutual friend of ours ran way back in the day. She recently posted a link to a Guardian article about cringing at the blogs we (as a society) had ten years ago and mused a bit on her old group blog. Ten years ago I was being introduced to Livejournal by a fellow engineering student at QUT but as far back as 2000 I was dabbling in blogging and writing webpages.
Fed up with some of the attitudes at our high school, a friend and I had joined a webring, where we wrote terrible poetry, passable HTML/CSS and banal updates about the coding of our respective webpages. I’m definitely not going to post a link and I’m glad I never used my name on that site.
Ten years ago (almost to the day, according to the source) the first version of the ILAQH website went live. If you’re reading this beyond Monday 16 you may not be able to see what I can see now. Below is a screen grab of what I see.
The website seems to have not had a design refresh in the last ten years, on account of various factors to do with QUT’s IT policies, not having a postdoc who’s also a professional web designer, etc. ILAQH has been around in one form or another since 1995, which means that as much as I cringe looking at the layout of our old site it could have been much worse.
We now have a new website that thematically fits with the rest of QUT’s web presence and is much more appropriate for a university research group who publish good quality work in the top journals in their field, have organised an international conference recently, and have a string of ARC Discovery grant successes.
Clearly a good web presence is important for research groups but it’s increasingly becoming more important for individual researchers. It’s a way to connect with potential employers, students, colleagues, etc. and a high quality site can really show what sets you apart from others. I’m trying to convince some of the other people at my sort of academic level to get their own websites so that they’re easily searchable online and have a page that’s separate from any university affiliation but also not tied to any one social network (not even the professional ones like ResearchGate or LinkedIn).
Out of all the blogs and web presences I’ve had, I’m definitely proudest of this one and doubt that in ten years time I’ll be looking back at it and cringing. I’m not a professional web developer, just someone who’s got a WordPress account and a bit of experience mucking around with software. Any researcher has the skills required to come up with a website for themselves and their research.