So, the PepsiCo blog thing. Right.
Advance disclaimer: this is me talking, not either of my illustrious co-bloggers. We have not yet made a decision about what to do; one co-blogger is across the pond at a conference and the other is vacationing, so that discussion will have to wait a bit. This is just my take.
Book of Trogool is very small fry at ScienceBlogs. Very small. SB was a bit dubious about it at the start, to tell the truth, and if their info-science stable had been better-established I doubt they’d have taken it on. I’m very grateful that they did, because I needed them.
One of the reasons SB’s info-sci stable isn’t larger is that librarianship is a very difficult profession to blog in. It doesn’t like blogs or bloggers, or social media generally, much less trust them or those who engage with each other and the world using them. Because libraries and librarians feel beleaguered, they especially don’t like discourse critical of libraries or librarianship in social media coming from one of their own. Library vendors aren’t fond of critical discourse in librarian blogs either. For individual librarian bloggers or public social-media figures, this has absolutely meant trouble at work. I’m one example, but very far from the only one?and I earned my problems more than most folks I know in similar straits.
This leaves the beleaguered library blogger who wishes to continue to blog with a few options. One is to be part of a group blog to create strength in numbers; In the Library with the Lead Pipe is a sterling example (and a fabulous blog; if you’re interested in libraries from the inside, this is not one to miss). Another is to adopt some of the trappings of the formal library professional literature, such as length, exclusivity, and beta-reading-oops-I-meant-peer-review. ItLwtLP does this as well. A third option is to find a blog home with enough accumulated strength of character and good reputation as to afford some protection?and now you know why I chose ScienceBlogs.
Insofar as letting PepsiCo cadge cachet from SB’s stable of bloggers damages SB’s reputation (never mind strength of character) it causes me pressing difficulty. I’m not happy about that, because my sense watching events unfold is that SB has seriously damaged its reputation, both by casting its processes into doubt and by losing quite a few talented, brilliant bloggers. Moreover, based on the trajectory of other sellout properties like LiveJournal, unless Adam Bly learns a lot from this experience?and signs point to “not so much with the learning” at this juncture?he will likely err seriously again. And again. Until SB is not only not a shield, but an actual stain on a blogger’s escutcheon.
These are petty, selfish concerns, to be sure. They are the tiny concerns of a small-fry blogger. Given that SB is rapidly alienating its big-fish bloggers, however, SB would be advised to heed these concerns, if it wishes to rebuild any sort of a stable.
To be perfectly clear, there is nothing intrinsically wrong with an individual industry scientist or big-pig-publisher employee coming to ScienceBlogs to blog on his or her own initiative. (Me vs. big-pig-publisher employee could be amusing!) I would hope that SB would provide such individuals the exact protections (from their workplaces not least) they have afforded me and other SB bloggers. What’s wrong is selling a corporation the chance to trade on the collective cachet accumulated by SB’s blogging stable by emitting corporate newspeak under the SB label?and I don’t credit for an instant that Dr. Khan or Dr. Mensah or anyone else from PepsiCo will be blogging freely and uninterfered-with. I don’t believe all the “advertorial” drapery fixes that basic wrongness.
So I labor under a dilemma. SB has been unique; there are other science-blogging stables, but none of them quite fits Book of Trogool. (Catch me blogging at Nature Networks! Not in this lifetime.) I sincerely doubt any of the group library blogs would take me on; I’m a bit Tabasco for this profession. I can’t go back to solo blogging. If SB folds (a possibility, the way things are going), if my co-bloggers are too affronted to continue here, if I decide that I am too affronted to continue here?well, chances are I just hang it up, retreating to the slow, ponderous library literature to get my licks in.
That’s not what I want. (Ask my writer’s block why. I have named it George…) I hope, instead, that SB can get its managerial act together.