However, I am concerned about message. I do not want the interesting and important science to be diluted (to some potential readers) by the fact that I am an opinionated bastard. So, I have been considering starting a new blog that would contain the science- and education-oriented posts and maintaining this one until no one IWOTI.
As is common in my commenting elsewhere, my diatribe grew longer than the blogpost itself and, therefore, is now a blogpost here presented to you for your consideration and commentary:
I have thought about this very question many times over the last four-and-a-half years as my blog has oscillated in message and the need for protection of my identity has evolved.
About three months into starting Terra Sigillata and even before we were invited to ScienceBlogs, I decided to start a local interest blog that was still under a pseudonym but would speak of stuff in my daily life. But I barely have the energy to write one blog (or even read those of DrugMonkey or Lorax). It lasted about six months (but is still live) and hasn’t been updated in more than three years.
Funny thing was I ended up starting to link to stuff in Terra Sig and vice versa because I realized that some ScienceBlogs readers actually care about my corner of the world because 1) a surprisingly large number of people trained here, not just US but international, 2) what happens here with higher ed, racism, music & the arts, and economic redevelopment are good examples that I like to read on other blogs, and 3) I want to show that the South has some fantastic culture & technology and that we Southerners are not a bunch of toothless, racist illiterates. (Well, I have accumulated a fair bit of dental work in my day.)
If I were a real “pro” – say, like Ed Yong has become – I’d just have a professional, one purpose blog. Then, if I wanted a personal blog, I’d just start another for that. However, part of my motivation for starting our blog was for outreach and to help the general public know that scientists are not just unidimensional creatures unable to communicate with regular folks. I also share Drugmonkey’s sense of responsibility for giving back to The Boss – the American taxpayer – for those of us who live on state higher ed support and/or federal research grants.
I hesitate to make inferences regarding those who read Terra Sig but I feel that a good number of people enjoy some of the non-science or tangential stuff – in fact, our most highly-read posts are those with a personal slant (live-blogging my vasectomy, eulogizing my alcoholic father, speaking at last weekend’s Henrietta Lacks gravestone dedication, being crushed when a similarly-aged co-worker dies of leukemia, reflecting on the lessons of my own illness), so I tend to think that the readers who’ve come around over the last few years seem to like those kinds of things. I like to think that people are interested in knowing how my father’s alcoholism and my mother’s battle with breast cancer informed my choices in life and in a scientific career.
And, yes, I am quietly narcissistic – so there, I said it.
This is about as hard-ass as I get but a blog is what you want it to be – no one gets to define what it should be but you. The readership who likes what you do comes along exactly because they like what you do or, as Schwa started off the comment thread, they can scroll past posts where they roll their eyes and say, “Not again, Abel.” Yes, yes, I quite often write about stuff I think that our beloved readers will like, but I never shy away from saying what’s on my mind because I want to journal some thoughts (although I just looked back and found some personal posts where I put in a sentence justifying the inclusion of such a post on a “science” blog.)
So, Learned Reader, why have I not driven you away?
Does it matter to you if a ScienceBlogger™ writes about topics not in loine with what you perceive a science blog to be?