I have always been a fan and avid reader of on-line news portals such as those from the New York Times and the Washington Post, but I am always looking for better sources of science news. Of course there are several stalwarts, such as Nature on-line and Scientific American . Nature is the “go to” site for life science related news. SA is a property of Nature and, like Nature, only available on a paid subscription basis. In the same high quality league is the AAAS on-line version of Science Magazine. PLOS, the Public Library of Science has a vast collection of research articles but they are not really a “news” site. However they do have an interesting set of blogs. The Society for Science & the Public (SSP) has sciencenews which has a strong science education mission. Other sites that are more focused on bringing science to the people include Discovery and, to some extent, Wired.
There are a number of sites that are curated news aggregators, i.e. there is little original content, but rather a well curated selection of links to other useful sites. One good example is Science Central. One of the sites they point to is LiveScience which is an online publication of a media content company called Purch.
These sites are all valuable and they can definitely help elevate the low level of science knowledge among the general population (though I fear most US Presidential candidates are immune to scientific thought or discoveries). But what I have always wanted to see are more news sites related to my interests in computer science, high performance computing and applications. So far the best have been the ACM and IEEE portals such as the ACM Communications site and for HPC news there is the venerable HPCwire. The Communications site give a great preview of the ACM print version and it also does a good job of news aggregation for the computer science community. HPC wire is very focused on the supercomputing community supported by DOE and NSF. It is a great way to keep up on who is doing what. For example there is a nice piece by Paul Messina on code optimization steps being taken to get the most out of the new Aurora system.
Now we have two additional computer and computational science news sites that are certainly nice new resources. One is from my old friends at Microsoft Research called Research News. This site is still Beta but it is worth a look. It is a very well done news aggregator that is focused on computer science and applications. It also has a reasonable event calendar and well curated spotlight and feature selections. The editorial advisors are all from MSR and I thought I would see more MSR-related content, but it was not as much as I expected. (I did learn about Pranja, a Spark-like data analysis tool done in F# and I will to follow up more on that later.) I was disappointed to find no search function. Where is the Cortana and Bing tie-in? I expect they are working on that one.
The other new site is ScienceNode.org. Science Node is a redesign and rethink of the iSGTW (International Science Grid This Week) and it is much improved. (Full disclosure. Science Node is now largely led by other former colleagues at Indiana University, but I only discovered that later when I decided to write about it.) In many ways ScienceNode is a nice compliment to ResearchNews. It is an aggregation site, but it is also nicely edited with some original content. For example there is a nice piece about the 3D digital sketching work by Julie Dorsey. They do have a search function, but more interesting is that they encourage community involvement by allowing reader to post links to blogs or to pitch a story.
In summary, I am excited to see ResearchNews and ScienceNode appear. They are both great contributions and I look forward to seeing how they evolve.