Yesterday, Bora Zivkovic announced he was leaving ScienceBlogs. This is kinda huge. Bora is as close to a scienceblogging god as any scienceblogger will admit to believing in. He gives every evidence of omnipresence and omniscience about the interplay of science and the internet. He’s created many of the ideas that keep the scienceblogging community together, not least the Science Online conferences.
And his Sb farewell shows why he’s so beloved. He seems to have taken the two weeks since Pepsiblog was announced and decided to go out with a bang. He analyzes what Scienceblogs did well, how it created its own ecosystem of sciencebloggers and how it affected the way other sciencebloggers did what they do. And then he looked forward, predicting, how those ecosystems would change in the wake of Pepsiblog, and the ongoing exodus from Scienceblogs in the wake of its ill-considered plan to sell its respectability to the highest bidder.
One of his most striking predictions is that the exodus was not over:
And more are leaving, and will be leaving, due to “Bion’s effect” [which explains why people stay at parties to remain part of a group, and then all leave at once as soon as a few group members head for the door]…
Yes, suddenly everyone is getting their coats on, all at the same time. This party is not as fun as it once was. Time to go.
And off he goes, to his new, independent blog.
And for a full day, Scienceblogs management said nothing. And that seems to have been the last straw. PalMD threw in the towel. Then Mike Dunford, Suzanne Franks, Deborah Blum (with an assist from Tennyson), Sharon Astyk, and Maryn McKenna put in their papers. PZ Myers has put his blog on hiatus.
When the first round of people decamped from Scienceblogs, I thought hard about joining them. And I didn’t do it then for three reasons. First, I really do like Scienceblogs. Despite all the nonsense they do, for the noncommunication and the slow payment, I like it here. I like the people and I like the mission. I want them to succeed and I want to be part of that success. Second, I don’t want to blog on my own. I like the people here and even as our ranks diminish, I’d rather be part of this group than not. Third, I’m going to be on a bit of a planned blogging hiatus starting Thursday because of my wedding and honeymoon, and a couple conferences I’m going to this week and next, and I’d rather make any move after I get back and have time to build traffic at a new site.
But Bora is right about Bion’s effect. I felt it two weeks ago, and feel it even more strongly now. The people who make Scienceblogs a community are all leaving, and the party’s over. I don’t know quite what I’ll do, yet. Maybe management will figure it all out between now and when I get back from Brazil, and we’ll all look back and laugh. I hope so. I still want Sb to succeed. But it won’t without the bloggers it already lost. PZ, who hasn’t left yet, makes up a lot of the site’s traffic, but Bora is what keeps Scienceblogs ticking. I’d say he was the soul, but a lot of us are realizing that Sb’s soul disappeared a while ago.
I’ll be tying up some loose ends in the next few days, and will have more to say on TfK’s future plan before the blog goes darkish for the wedding and honeymoon.