Cory Doctorow in Chapel Hill

Cory Doctorow, blogger at BoingBoing and author of several books, came to town last weekend and did a reading/signing of his latest novel For The Win at Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill on Sunday.

I assume that, being bloggers and blog-readers, you all know who Cory is and what he does - if not, follow the links above as this post is going to be self-centered ;-)

This is the first time I got to meet Cory in person, but he is pretty important person in my life. After I have been blogging about politics for a couple of years and my blog started being well known in the circles of the progressive blogosphere, Kerry/Edwards ticket lost and we all sunk into a collective state of depression. I wrote a few election post-mortems but the wind was out of my sails and I was tired of political blogging.

So I started a new blog in January 2005 and posted a longish blog post about circadian rhythms and sleep in humans. I installed Sitemeter on that one-post blog and went to sleep, only to wake up in the morning to an avalanche of traffic - coming from BoingBoing, linked to by Cory. Soon others linked to it as well, e.g., Andrew Sullivan. To this day, this is still one of the most visited posts in my blogging career and at least once a year it gets rediscovered by someone on digg, redditt or stumbleupon which brings in another mini-avalanche of traffic to it.

That was a wake-up call and an Eureka moment. Aha! Everyone can bash Bush and Cheney, but not everyone can write about science from a position of expertise! I can! On that day I became a science blogger. I knew a handful of science blogs at the time - Intersection, Loom, Pharyngula, Deltoid...but really, the space was still wide open at that time. Very soon, my science blog was receiving as high traffic as the political one, although I kept it very narrowly focused on just chronobiology - talk about a niche blog!

A year later, I was invited to join Scienceblogs.com which widened my audience and enabled me to organize the first science blogging conference (now known as ScienceOnline) and to put together the first science blogging anthology (Open Laboratory 2006). This broadened my audience even more and put my name out there into the media, the science publishing world and Science 2.0 world. As a blogger whose academic library password expired, I naturally became a proponent of Open Access and tended to blog a lot about PLoS papers because I could access them. All of this led to a job at PLoS which I got in the comments of a blog post of mine. That job then led to many other opportunities - speaking invitations, two trips to Europe, various consulting gigs, etc.

So, a single link from someone like Cory can completely alter one's career trajectory. Just saying. Never hold your links back, you never know how that can help a person one day.

Oh, and you never know what exactly on your blog is interesting to other people. Cory says he loves the Clock Quotes. Go figure!

Anyway, I took a few murky photos at the reading - under the fold:




And this is Paul Jones introducing Cory:


And watch this video of Cory - about science, science culture, science publishing and science communication:

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"That was a wake-up call and an Eureka moment. Aha! Everyone can bash Bush and Cheney, but not everyone can write about science from a position of expertise!"

That should be stapled on the forehead of a lot more science bloggers! :)