I once did a contract job for Pepsico. It went fine, but during the fieldwork, we noticed that every overhead utility wire and several prominent tree branches in the undeveloped forest we were surveying for archaeological sites had soda bottles strung over them, like those fetishes hanging around in the forest in the Blaire Witch Project. But the soda brand was, in every case, Coke. Coke, no Pepsi.
I asked around about why that was the case, and someone told me confidentially “Everybody around here hates Pepsico. But everybody around here works for them. Be lucky you are from out of town.”
But what about this new Pepsico Blog on Scienceblogs.com? There is some controversy…
Let’s assume for a moment that the new Pepsico blog at Scienceblogs.com is a corporate tool designed to push evil Pepsico-benefiting rhetoric onto the web in the guise of a legitimate semi-independent authoritative thoughtful science blog.
That may not be the case. The Pepsi blog may be no different than the Collective Imagination blog sponsored by General Electric, which is not a corporate shill. Indeed, one could point out that my fellow science bloggers such as Grrl and Pal are being goat-loving hypocrites: Nobody squeaks when human-rights abusing Shell Oil has a blog, or PCB spewing GE has a blog, but for some reason, Pepsi gets their goat (here we are with the goats again) perhaps because they prefer Coke or something, and they get all icky-dicky about it.
But as Grrl and Pal as well as Jason Goldman point out, there are differences with this new Pepsi blog. It seems very much that it is not the same. It makes me feel icky-dicky too, though I’m trying to remain calm and reserve judgment, as are most of us.
But how, dear reader, should YOU react? Some commenters have said they will never read another scienceblogs.com blog ever again because our credibility has totally collapsed because this blog exists. That’s like when a student told me that nothing I had said in lecture all semester could be believed because (according to his misguided understanding of something) I had gotten this one thing wrong. Those commenters will either calm down and keep reading the blogs they like, or perhaps stick to their guns and go away, thus making Sb a bit less stupid of a place, or so one might hope.
Sbreaders could just not read the new blog. Or, Sbreaders could read it carefully and never give them a break. If they really do post mainly self serving corporate jerk-off juice then having comments objecting to their content will devalue it considerably, if those comments are reasonably well worded and well documented. And, if the comments are allowed.
Sbreaders can write a note to the Sb overlords. But keep in mind, contracts have presumably been signed, and patience may be needed.
Sbreaders could demand a Coke blog. That could offset the Pepsiblog. Of course, if we can’t have an institution or business with both Coke and Pepsi vending machines, it may also not be possible to have a major blog network like Scienceblogs.com partly sponsored by both mega soda corporations.
I’m an atheist and all, but I will be praying that we don’t get a Tab blog. OMG.
On one hand, a major international corn-syrup to market industry leader blogging about nutrition is a little like having a beef industry blog that focuses on vegetarianism. Possible, but unlikely. On the other hand, maybe there is a future in which Scienceblogs.com has 120 or so blogs (we are heading that way now) with 20 or so distributed among major institutions and major industries. Maybe that’s not ideal but maybe its not as bad as it sounds.
Minimally, here’s what it comes down to for me: Since Pepsico pays Scienceblogs.com to have that blog, and I don’t pay Scienceblogs.com to have my blog, does this mean that if I blog something negative about Pepsico that I’ll take heat from the Scienceblogs.com management? That seems very unlikely from what I have experienced to date, but I can not guarantee that this will not happen. If it does, of course, you’ll be the first to know. And, given the importance of this situation, the next time I have the opportunity to write critically of Pepsico, I’ll probably take up that opportunity. Just to see how it goes. Dragon’s tail, meet my finger. Any day, any time.