Even before I knew what it was, I never wanted a blog, because I didn’t like how the word sounds. Similarly, the term scibling (which refers to bloggers on scienceblogs.com) always creeped me out. And yet, here I find myself, a scibling and a blogger for more than three years in SEED’s network and more or less content. Ask anyone and you’ll find I’m fairly uninvolved, rarely take a position, do not contribute to the forums or make a fuss.
Last Wednesday, I saw an email from SEED editor Adam Bly, which everyone knows about by now, in which he defended SEED’s decision to allow PepsiCo a platform to voice their wisdom and science of nutrition. I figured PepsiCo’s Food Frontiers was actually a new frontier of blogwashing. I also figured Adam was fighting a losing battle when his justification to add PepsiCo included the fact they make Quaker Oatmeal. A few clicks and I realized people were justifiably unhappy. Because I was down here in the Gulf just preparing to post a series of pieces on the oil spill, I had my own self-obsessed worries that I would have to make a quick migration (which, after seeing all the oiled birds, seemed almost apt) out of principle and solidarity. Then, something happened.
The people spoke. And, more important, SEED listened. In the afternoon, Adam sent another email saying that SEED would do a better job in flagging the blog as a corporate blog. This job was not good enough. The next morning (less than 24 hours later) Adam sent another email saying that PepsiCo’s Food Frontier blog was cancelled.
In my own mind, I viewed the cancellation as a coup. Yes, I also agree with Abel Pharmboy that everything could have been done better from the start. But Adam’s reversal of his decision could not have come easily and was something profoundly democratic — in a similar vein to what happened on my.barackobama.com after President Obama changed his vote on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (in that case, the people did not get their way, but they also were not silenced; for more on this point, listen to this talk by Clay Shirky). Perhaps feeling the power of social media, Adam even opened his own blog.
And yet I continue to see this mass exodus from scienceblogs. I don’t know if this is for the best (i.e., some people are using PepsiCo as a way out of something they wanted out of anyway). Or, rather, if I am missing something. But my main concern is that the system is punishing someone/an institution that ultimately (and quickly) gave in to the system. That doesn’t seem fair. It certainly doesn’t seem compassionate.
Unless I am missing something, I believe we should all stay. And those who have left should come back. Changing one’s mind is the best proof you still have one.