No, wait, wait, I didn’t mean that. I’LL TALK! Just don’t hurt me!
Dr. Rorschach at Furious Purpose said something which I noticed first on my blog then on his blog, and it made me giggle. Later, I listened to a new podcast in which Bora and Arikia are interviewed regarding Scienceblogs.com and the broader issue of Science Blogging, and some things said during that podcast (by the host) made me laugh a little more. And so now I’m just sitting here in hysterics wondering WTF?
Let me start out with this, from the blog post Jerry Coyne on Phil Plait:
I have a niggling suspicion that some people in the accomodationist camp coordinate their media messages and talks somehow.
Which corresponds to this comment on my site:
… if one was to have a position on the issue … Mine is that Phil Plait, Rebecca and the other folks from the JRF have all apparently gotten the same briefing, are all stating the same message(Don’t be a Dick), and are all vehemently knocking down a strawman
The podcast in question was called Rebooting The News #60, and involved an interview by some guy named Dave of Bora Zivkovic (of A Blog Around the Clock and Arikia Millikan (of The Millikan Daily) about science blogging. Bora and Arikia made a number of excellent points about science blogging and scienceblogs.com in particular, and you should listen to the podcast. But, what struck me as interesting besides that is the number of times this “Dave” character would be hear something, say from Bora, like “… well, no, we didn’t at Scienceblogs.com actually look over our shoulder to see what PZ was thinking …” and then interrupt and say something like “… Well, no, actually, I think maybe you were … I think maybe there was influence by the editors … I think may be there is a lack of editorial independence bla bla bla …” … again and again. Yes, he is quite sure that a number of things that are not really there are. There, that is.
So on one hand we have a conspiracy among certain categories of bloggers/skeptics/etc (the weekly briefing about dicks?) and on the other hand we have dark hidden influences that certain prescient people can see even if no one else can.
I wish. Maybe somebody would be paying me better. But no.
Let me start with Dr. Rorschach’s suggestion that certain people … accommodationists, etc. … are getting together and communicating in private before saying stuff out loud, instead of just reading each other’s public pronouncements.
Well, actually, it’s true in a way.
In the last, say, 60 days, I’ve had conversations, in private medium (speaking face to face, email, whatever) with this, this, this*, this, this*, this*, this*, this, this, this, this*, this, this, this, this*, this, this*, this, this*, this*, this*, this, and this* blogger or online personality in which we communicated about one or more of the current hot issues in skepticism, atheism, or whatever. The asterisk designates contacts that were extensive, such as one hour-plus phone conversations in the middle of the night, dinner, collective consumption of beer, whatever, in which, generally, multiple topics were covered. If you look at this list of contacts, you will notice something interesting. The list spans the so-called New Atheist and the so-called Accommodationist camps. The list spans the Traditional Feminists (e.g. who were not comfortable with boobquake) and the whatever-you-call the other feminist, such as the Sepchicks, who enraged Dave Mabus and others by engaging in the quake. This is a chunk of the liberal blogosphere, as it were, conspiring.
But why would that not be the case? Dr. Rorschach, niggling suspiciously (It’s OK, I looked up niggling, it derives from the verb “to niggle” which is to be picky about irrelevant things) seems to imply that we are not to discuss these matters on our own, like jurors going home for the night instead of remaining sequestered. But we do. Yet, somehow, the dark forces that Dave imagines to be shaping our commentary are not following us home and finding a way to control our brains.
Unfortunately. I could use the help.
The truth is, it (it = whatever we’all are blogging and talking about) is a fairly open conversation and it is happening all the time, with the occasional flocking together at events like ScienceOnline, or the occasional dyadic conversation such as the aforementioned podcast, or various bloggingheads episodes.
The role of the network, by the way, is mainly at the reader end. The vast, vast majority of blogging done at Scienceblogs.com by the 70 bloggers we have here (yes, the network is still quite alive and fairly large) is done with zero coordination or ‘community’ of any kind. The community part comes with the readers and commenters, who cross fertilize and tie together some of the blogs. I have just as much conspiratorial communication with fellow bloggers not on Scienceblogs than with people on the network.
And despite our Olympian efforts to take over the world, so far we have little to show. Obviously, we are doing this wrong …
So, in the end, what do Bora, Arikia, Rebecca, Phil and Me and all the others linked to above have in common? We are humans with email, phones, modes of transportation and communication, who live in overlapping widely distributed networks of informal communication. Do bloggers, in the background, plan what to write in some sort of conspiracy? It seems to me that this never happens, or only rarely. Sheril, Isis, Stephanie and I “conspired” 14 months ago to make June a month to blog about a certain topic. There was no discussion on what to say, just that there would be a blog-push on this topic to increase general awareness. That’s about as conspiratorial as it gets. But that does not mean that there is not a conversation. How could there not be? There should be.
Perhaps more need to engage in such a thing.