What If All the Images Went Away

Can you imagine what science communication would be like without images?

Again on Twitter and Facebook, I find myself levelling criticisms at particular sites and railing against improper image use in science communication. Again.

After arguing with (arguably) allies in science communication I was fed up. Fed up with the attitude that unattributed images are just a (small) sacrifice for the net good of science communication to the populace at large. Fed up that photographers, cartoonists & illustrators are considered by many to be lesser professions than scientists & educators. Fed up that rapid image sharing (oh I’m sorry: “curation”) can trample so many creators and yet lead to fame and fortune.

I found myself saying once again, “can you imagine what science communication would be like without images?

And now I’m going to show that to you. Click on the images for maximum effect.

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The 4 blogs I am showing below are all ones I consider to be excellent at science communication in all aspects: compelling reads coupled with effective, often astonishing images. These bloggers, in my opinion make every effort to attribute and use images correctly. They link back. They name sources, just as good science blogging should.

Deep Sea News

See Cocktail Party Physics’ post here

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I wish that once a year, popular browsers like Chrome, Safari and Firefox could somehow block all images online as an awareness campaign.

Despite feeling discouraged last week about what it will take to see a phase-change in how image creators are treated online, I still believe there is hope. And thanks to those of you who encouraged myself and others who were wading into some ugly debates. Here are a few hopeful tweets I shared.


Many thanks to Annalee Newitz (io9), Dr. Craig McClain (Deep Sea News), Jennifer Ouellette (Cocktail Party Physics) and Ed Yong (Not Exactly Rocket Science) for letting me stripmine their blogs in order to make these non-images. Apologies to your bloggers, illustrators, photographers and designers.

Before anyone goes scurrying off to see if they have ever screwed up and forgotten an attribution, let me assure you that these bloggers would welcome the correction. I didn’t approach them because I am certain they are perfect: I approached them because they show respect to creators consistently.


Originally published at blogs.scientificamerican.com. This post originally appeared on Symbiartic on Scientific American, by Glendon Mellow March 18, 2014. I’ve done a bit of light editing on tense in the first paragraph. This post has also been re-blogged on Medium