The end of an era?

This place has been dark for so long, I’m not sure anyone is still reading.  You’re probably wondering what I’ve been up to.  I promise to post on that soon.  For now, I’d like to mourn a little about what looks to be the beginning of the end for ScienceBlogs.

You most likely have been following the ScienceBlogs kerfluffle, but in case you haven’t, here is a brief rundown.  A while back, ScienceBlogs made the mistake of hosting a blog that was bought and paid for by PepsiCo. without making a distinction between it and the other independent blogs on the site.  They also didn’t tell their blogger employees about it ahead of time.  Outrage ensued and Sb first added the label “advertorial” to the PepsiCo. blog, then pulled the blog altogether.  This original breach in ethics was the final straw for many of the bloggers at Sb who started packing up and leaving.  I think some 18 blogs have left so far (a list of bloggers who left and where they are currently is being kept here) with others (most noticeably PZ Myers) now on strike.  Apparently, the PepsiCo fiasco highlighted the problems in communication between the bloggers and Sb.  Also cited as major issues:  no technological support and not getting paid (although the money issue seems to be relatively low on the list of issues people have cited for leaving).

It has been sad watching people leave Sb but the saddest of all for me were the departures of Bora and Zuska.  Many people have noted that Bora, more than any other blogger at Sb, was responsible for maintaining the Sb community.  I’m not sure it is possible for anyone to really capture what Bora has meant to Sb, science blogging in general and individual science bloggers in particular (although this is being attempted on twitter with the hashtag #iowebora).  I owe Bora as well, he linked to my blog early on (just after I posted about Imposter Syndrome) which helped boost my readership and he made it possible for me to attend SciOnline2010.  I first met Bora at the Science Blogging Conference of 2008 and he immediately knew who I was and made me feel welcome and wanted even though I was just a grad student with a tiny little blog.  I will never forget that.

I also met Zuska at the two conferences and both times she gave me excellent advice.  I love reading her blog and I always feel vindicated by her anger at both subtle and overt sexism.

Both Bora and Zuska are going to continue blogging elsewhere, but if not for Scienceblogs, I might never have found their blogs, never have gone to the science blogging conferences, never met such wonderful people there and in general, my life would not have been the same.  So, it is with great sadness that I see Sb dying a slow death.  I will follow the bloggers whereever they go, but it will definitely not be the same.  I enjoyed the one-stop shopping that Sb offered.  Sure, I have my feedreader, but there were many times in grad school when I had trouble sleeping and I had read through all of my favorite blogs, that I turned to the Sb combined feed and started reading those posts.

Reading blogs substituted for a IRL human connection when I was depressed and alone in my apt. in the middle of the night when it was too late to call a friend.  Reading the blogs, seeing the bantering between the SciBlings was comforting.  (This says quite a lot about how terribly lonely and depressed I was at that time.)

If this whole sorry debacle is sad for me, I can only imagine how the actual Sb bloggers feel (those that left and those that remain).  It must be heartbreaking.

Perhaps it is too soon to call it the end of Sb.  Perhaps some sort of miracle will occur and Sb will revive and find a way to thrive again (anyone know who the patron saint of science blogging might be?).  But, it is clear that, with the departure of some of my favorite bloggers, Sb will be a different place.  And maybe not one so important to me.

4 thoughts on “The end of an era?

  1. I never read many blogs on the Sb network, but it is a sad thing indeed. But, things like this tend to come and go (like social networking sites), and so maybe there will be something bigger and better to come.

  2. I come from the other side — humanities — but I, too, made connections with people at my lowest point in the last year through blogging, and it was part of what sustained me. I understand the mourning for that loss.

    Hope you are well.

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