Unless you’ve been living under a rock, or you are the CEO of Seed Media Group (SMG), you are well aware that Bora Zivkovic left ScienceBlogs 24 hours ago. Shockingly, despite this important loss, Adam Bly, CEO of SMG, has not communicated with any of us who remain at ScienceBlogs about this loss either by telephone, email, text, twitter, carrier pigeon or even with smoke signals. As far as I am concerned, ScienceBlogs is now ZombieBlogs, the undead, a heartless and soulless brain-eating monster that once was a beautiful living ideal.
A significant number of us have been planning a strike, starting now, and continuing until SMG takes significant steps to correct the numerous problems they’ve saddled us with and until they put the proper priority on supporting us — the Sb cash cow. But considering their track record, how much do you want to bet that Adam Bly/SMG/Sb will do nothing at all?
At this point, we are deeply concerned about the future of SMG/Sb, primarily due to the chronic lack of paychecks and the complete lack of communication after all those promises that SMG/Sb made just 12 days ago to work at developing transparency in their operations. How can an entire media organization fall mysteriously silent again, and at such a critical time as this? I thought a media company was all about communication, but I guess this is yet another deception I’ve grown to accept after my indenture here at SMG/Sb.
I am not sure what this media circus looks like to my readers, but as one of the writers here, I am both baffled and incensed by this inexplicable veil of secrecy that surrounds the entire SMG/Sb operation — none of us blog writers have any idea if there are any SMG employees in the offices anymore. And all this confusion is after Captain, er .. Adam .. Bly promised he would address our very real concerns and make an effort to improve communication with us.
But unlike the real Captain Bligh, Adam Bly is nothing more than a smooth-talking con artist. Unlike the real captain Bligh, not only does Adam not know how to sail a ship, but he also is absolutely clueless when it comes to either successfully running a business or communicating effectively with his employees, both of which are especially damning since he captains a media outfit that, you know, relies on communicating with the public. So most of us who write blogs here are racing around trying to save our work whilst Adam Bly’s “ship” silently sinks beneath the waves, never to be seen again.
Maybe you think this lack of communication is a recent development at SMG, but if so, you’d be wrong. Very very wrong. Lack of communication from on high has been the standard operating procedure for SMG for nearly all of the years of its existence, leaving the individual blog writers, Scienceblogs itself, and even the “overlords” — those people who were hired to communicate with us on behalf of SMG — in the dark. This, even though SMG has been chronically late in paying us our meager salaries for more than two years now.
Equally revealing, SMG/Sb has not hired any technical staff since that position became vacant last year, choosing instead to rely on part-time IT consultants who are left to stare at the platform code from afar only after a crisis has developed, without coming in to the offices and without actually improving anything — astonishing when you realize that SMG/Sb supposedly is all about online communications. No, wait. This is not astonishing, it’s downright pathetic. Oh, but they did just hire an IT expert, part-time (!!), a few days ago, only after this PepsiCo fiasco, and only because we demanded that SMG do so. This IT expert is charged with attempting to fix myriad problems that have plagued Sb for years now. Unfortunately, our new tech person immediately went on vacation, so we are still without support, like a rudderless ship floundering in a storm.
Our lack of tech support, combined with our lack of paychecks and a total blackout on any and all forms of communication has demoralized the entire community. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the PepsiCo blog popped up on our rss feeds out of the blue, without warning or input from any of us as to how this might be accomplished in a way to cause the least amount of harm to the credibility of the site and to everyone who contributes here. Most of us erupted with a firestorm of righteous indignation.
In retrospect, such blatantly unethical behavior should not have surprised any of us. Since Sb attracts far more traffic and generates far more money than the defunct SEED magazine ever did, it appears that sole function for Sb is to be the cash cow whose milk funds Adam Bly’s pricey fantasy lifestyle as a hotshot magazine publisher living in lower Manhattan. Forgetting, of course, that magazine publishers have to, you know, actually publish a magazine.
Against this chaotic backdrop of turmoil, we lose Bora. Besides being as close to a brother as I’ve ever had, losing Bora is critically important to Sb, especially now, because he was the one who did the most to contribute to building a strong community here at Sb. Further, the shocking lack of any comment or response, either public or private, from Adam Bly, or from SMG/Sb regarding Bora’s departure makes it intolerable (for me, at least) to “just be patient” and remain here any longer. I cannot and will not sit idly by and watch Adam Bly and SMG/Sb compromise its writers’ credibility and make a mockery of their efforts to shine a light into the darkness of willful ignorance. In short, I cannot wait any longer because I don’t know what I am waiting for. Based on past experience, and because I fully believe that Adam Bly/SMG/Sb are incapable of suddenly developing even a modicum of respect for me as a scientist, writer and employee, I am taking this opportunity to make my Sb strike a permanent condition.
For the past couple years, I have been very unhappy at Sb; I’ve found myself worrying constantly over the future of SMG, stressed out by the lack of promised paychecks — my landlord didn’t give a rat’s ass as to why I couldn’t pay my rent, after all! — and my writing output diminished sharply when compared to my previous years of high quality and productivity.
I have wrestled with quitting the blogging game altogether because, after nearly six years to the day of writing a blog, I feel I’ve not accomplished anything at all, I feel inconsequential, I feel invisible. I had almost convinced myself all of this was true, too, except that my spouse — whom I met through my blog — reminds me that this is absolutely not the case, that I have done a lot for my readers and my colleagues throughout the blogosphere, and they have responded in kind.
I am profoundly sad to be leaving Sb. Being part of Sb was as close to having a family as I’d ever had up until recently, and for that reason, it was a very important part of my life since I came here as part of the “first wave” in January 2006. I owe nearly everything I have to my colleagues and readers here at Sb. You were there for me during the darkest, most excruciatingly painful period of my life: chronic unemployment. When my real life colleagues and friends abandoned me, you kept me alive with your compassion, energy and optimism. When I battled lawsuits for medical bills that I had no hope in hell of paying, you listened and provided much-needed advice. When I was faced with the spectre of hunger and homelessness, you helped me pay rent, you fed me, clothed me, emailed me and called me on the phone from around the world. When I was isolated and in despair, you sent me cards, packages, a digital camera (!!), home-baked cookies, hundreds of scientific papers, thousands of digital photographs and hundreds of beautiful books to read. One of you even bought me a parrot to console me as I mourned the untimely deaths of not one, but two of my parrots while I was hospitalized for months. Thanks to all of you, my dear readers, I’ve learned so much about what it truly means to be fully human and to be a part of this world — lessons that I would never have learned if you hadn’t provided me with your amazing example.
I worry that my departure is a disappointment to you because I wanted to accomplish and experience and share so many things while I was here. I wanted to help SMG/Sb regain its original vision and get back on track again and become the healthy organization that I know it can be under the right management. I wanted to finish writing some books based on ideas I’ve developed while I was here — my first tangible “thank you” to all of you (the first installment of many such “thank yous,” I hope). I was looking forward to experiencing my 6th “blogoversary” coming up in a few days on 4 August. Six years is a very long time to devote to doing anything (especially writing a blog!) — and I was hoping my humble blog would either meet or surpass 6 million visits on or before that day. Alas, even if that happens, I won’t be here as an active participant to enjoy it.
But I will be somewhere out there. I have purchased five domain variations on my name that these will redirect you to where ever in the world that I land. These URLS are;
I encourage you to bookmark them since they will always point to my new blog home after I find a place to settle in. Meanwhile, I will still oversee Scientia Pro Publica, which is THE blog carnival devoted to showcasing the best science, environment, nature and medical writing in the blogosphere. And yes, we do need hosts as well as submissions, so please don’t forget about us!
I also write a blog at Nature Network, Maniraptora. I activated my long-dormant site at wordpress, the invisible scientist, that I am using as a content dump and mirror and also to experiment with the travails of importing an MT4 blog into a WP platform. I am fairly certain I can get the last backups of my complete blog, including all your comments, from Sb’s new IT person, Tim Appnel, before everything is shut down here, and I hope I can update the last of the mystery birds that appear here before all is said and done. But in the unlikely event that I cannot, I will be still reading your comments since copies are sent to my gmail address.
I have been awake all night, thinking and writing and backing things up, so I am exhausted. The sun is peeking over the hills in the east as I write this, and everything is pink in color at this moment. I am absolutely exhausted, so I hope you’ll forgive me if I curl up and take a little nap. Before I go, I want to leave you with a few words that have been scrolling through my head whilst I’ve been composing this farewell to you.
‘Tis almost morning, I would have thee gone –
And yet no farther than a wan-ton’s bird,
That lets it hop a little from his hand,
Like a poor prisoner in his twisted gyves,
And with a silken thread plucks it back again,
So loving-jealous of his liberty.
I would I were thy bird.
Sweet, so would I,
Yet I should kill thee with much cherishing.
Good night, good night! Parting is such sweet sorrow,
That I shall say good night till it be morrow.
Romeo And Juliet Act 2, scene 2, 176-185