Author Archives: Adam Johnston


Here’s the first prompt. A writing submission for this topic is due by the end of November. Questions or issues or clarifications? Just comment on this post and then everyone should be able to see.

My prompt for November: “Design”.

That’s it. I imagine other prompts will be more specific. There’s no other guidance nor regulation. Write something, anytime during the month, and the rest of us get to read, enjoy, and comment. Your post should be in the category “design,” with any tags you choose. This keeps things organized.

I have to admit that I already have something in mind for this, but I guess this is where most prompts will come from.

I propose that we have Brad assign the prompt for December, continuing in alphabetical order of first names. This further justifies why I, Adam, get to go first.

in the beginning . . .

This is an experiment, though not a scientific one.  We should know.

The premise of this space is that scientists could be better communicators on many different levels.  One place to start is through the written word.  Writing is a tool to clarify our ideas, as well as a means to get others to understand these ideas.  We spend time in front of chalk boards, behind podiums, standing on desks with bowling balls, or lying upon a table offering a bed of nails.  We think that this exudes understanding, and in some ways it does.  But it doesn’t tell the whole story.

So, this space allows some of us to practice.  Each month, one of us gives the rest of the group a topic.  This could be a single word, a topic sentence, a premise, a question . . . perhaps the creativity starts with the prompt itself.  The entire group, including the person who creates the monthly assignment, gets to write to that prompt.  Everyone gets to read each other’s work, comment, reflect, reconsider, etc.  There are no answers, no prizes, and no losers.  We’re just trying to get a sense for the craft, get better at writing, and perhaps even get better at communicating and doing science.

Here are the rules:

  1. The rules can change.
  2. We don’t really care too much about the rules.
  3. We’ll go down the contributor list, each one being assigned a month to give the rest of the group the prompt. The prompt gets posted by the beginning of said month, and then others respond with their piece within that month. Each prompt should be its own category on the blog; tags can be added to each entry as appropriate.
  4. Everyone should be encouraged to comment on everyone else’s work. It should be constructive and insightful and thoughtful, but that’s a lot to ask. At least be polite.
  5. If/when the muse strikes you, feel free to contribute other pieces, outside of the monthly assignment. Use categories and tags as you see fit.
  6. Share. This is a public space, and we should write with this in mind. This doesn’t mean that every piece will be as refined as we might want it, but it does push us to a higher standard. Your mother might read this. Or your department chair. Or both.