Migration #2 (1995)
I have been trying to write this blog entry for several days now. I’ve actually written it a couple dozen times but I have deleted every one so far. But even though it’s difficult to write, this is something I need to tell you, dear readers, even if my attempt at an explanation is clumsy.
For the past year, I have been very unhappy with what I see as mismanagement of ScienceBlogs, angered by Adam Bly’s steadfast refusal to communicate with Sb or to respond to our concerns individually, and astonished at Sb’s lack of IT support, but I stuck around anyway because I thought things would improve. Things certainly couldn’t get any worse, I thought. But as Adam Bly’s PepsiCo blog circus so nicely demonstrates, I was wrong. In the aftermath of that mess, I was packing my blog up and preparing to leave for .. well, I dunno where, actually.
shitstormfirestorm, I was approached by a fair number of people who have worked with or for Adam Bly or Seed Media Group (SMG) in a variety of capacities. They confirmed my long-held but silent suspicions about Adam Bly’s character and told me more about his ethics and SMG’s general business practices — all in less than glowing terms. I was sworn to secrecy by these people, so I cannot and will not repeat what I learned. But their stories are quite similar to The Guardian‘s recent editorial by journalist Gaia Vince, which reveal two disturbing patterns: first, SMG has a shockingly casual attitude about paying their talent for services rendered and second, SMG demonstrates a willingness to blur the boundaries between journalistic integrity and advertising dollars. (The comments on that piece are illuminating, especially those by Christopher Mims).
It’s rather damning.
But leaving SMG was much more technically challenging than I thought it would be. In fact, I found that going on a writing hiatus wasn’t easy either while this fiasco was in progress. Then add in the long, long trail of Adam Bly’s broken promises, backed up with his astonishingly stupid “explanations” as to why he broke those promises, along his typical lack of communication with us — all of which only made the situation worse. Meanwhile, ScienceBlogs was hemorrhaging blogs and writers (my friends and colleagues).
Due to Adam’s continuing habit of stubborn, self-righteous silence and my own outspoken criticism of him, followed by the accidental (temporary) disappearance of my blog by Tim (ScienceBlogs’ IT consultant), I decided I had no choice: I had to move my blog, even if only to a mirror site, before it permanently disappeared. Thus began a long string of technical difficulties that are sufficient to make me scream.
I am still working on overcoming these difficulties.
But that said, Adam did live up to the ScienceBlogs’ community demand that he remove the PepsiCo advertorial blog. As a result of that, I am going to stay — for now.
Currently, my “sciblings” and I are discussing our futures and our perception of SMG/ScienceBlogs’ future, what ScienceBlogs should look like in the future to meet the public’s need for information and our need for readers, and how we can achieve those goals. We’ve decided that a collective action model — a sort of “science blogger’s union” without the union dues — is the best way to accomplish our goals while we are here. This development is heartening. At this point, I cannot provide too much detail as to what we’re doing because we are still discussing it, but when I can tell you more, I will. (But I can tell you that I am already on several committees.)
Even though I am staying at Sb (for now), I am shopping around to see what options are out there for my blog. I have already decided that I am not willing to return to Blogspot or start my own independent blog site (a “wildcat blog” as one of my colleagues refers to it) due to credibility and traffic issues that accompany such a move. I am negotiating a potential move to several other science blog sites, but my contacts at those places are disorganized and not very responsive — a situation that doesn’t bode well. The way I see things, the most promising option is developing a cooperative non-profit blog site that is set up and run by a group of scientists who wish to write blogs for the public. To that end, I am talking with several people behind the scenes about a business model and plan that I am developing for such an independent site. It’s possible this will never be implemented, but it’s an interesting exercise to think about because it gives me a clearer idea of what a science blog writer and her readers need and want from any group science blog site.
So at this point, I am going to finish writing those blog essays I’ve been working on, be an active participant in this new Sb community project, and continue working on my book proposal. As always, I am very interested to read your thoughts about the state of things.