For obvious reasons--I'm building a science blog network here--I've been paying close attention to the ScienceBlogs.com Diaspora. It is always fascinating to find out what a place looks like from the inside, and there's been a lot of that type of reflection going on. Then there's the teaching moment, the learning from SB's mistakes, but to be honest, the mistakes they've made (and are making) are pretty basic--so there's not a lot to take note of other than to marvel at how the thing managed to survive as long as it has. Finally, there's the prospect of picking up some of SB's talent. I admit, I've been circling the devastation not unlike a vulture, and I've even made a few inquiries and posted a few strategic comments around the fringes in an effort to at least get the word out to departing SBers that there is an alternative science blog network out there. One that doesn't suffer from a lack of vision or the corrupting influence of a financial motive/burden...
But this post isn't the open invitation to departing SBers to join FoS that you might expect. This post is a response of sorts to Bora's epic farewell. If you haven't read it, do so now.
If I told you that Bora echoes some of the themes I've been talking about for years would you believe me? What if I provided you with links? Or witnesses? Well, I will, upon request. However, the point of bringing up my history is not to say I'm smarter than Bora, or even as smart as Bora. It is to illustrate that I agree with Bora, not out of convenience or advantage, but because that's my honest assessment of the state of play. SB's disintegration is an opportunity for science blogging to evolve into a more sophisticated, diverse and dynamic species.
To that end, I have a contribution to make. Or rather, a vision to share.
FieldofScience.com costs a little over $11/year to run. That's it. There's no hosting costs, no tech support expense, no staff or other full or part-time paid position. FoS is hosted by Google, who can handle all the traffic we can send their way without breaking a sweat. FoS is powered by Blogger.com, which is owned by Google, and if you know anything about the Internet, then the fact that our blogging software is a property of Google is really all you need to know. And if your opinion of Blogger.com is over a year old, then you don't know Blogger.com. The picture I'm painting is this. You don't need a fully staffed media group replete with editors, writers, sales, technical, personnel and accounting departments in order to have a science blog network. All you need is a little vision, a willingness to learn a few simple technical tricks, a passion and a few dollar bills.
If you have those things, you're probably already seriously considering creating your own science blog network or collective with your fellow friends and familiars. If that's you, I would like to propose we create a network of networks. That is to say, I'll share with you the know-how I've gathered in creating and maintaining FoS (no need to reinvent the wheel), and in turn we collaborate to create like science blog networks. The example I have in mind is the Gawker group of blogs which, while each is unique (in theme and content), each shares a like platform and certain navigation elements.
Combining the Gawker model and the FoS model, we have the tools, the template and the technology to create a series of science themed blog networks that, while individual, compliment one another. There could be a science blog network for women scientists, one for science writers, another for the politicization of science, and still another for the infrequent science blogger. The list goes on and on. Just consider all the science carnivals past and present. All those themes could be networks of their own, and each of them a part of a larger, mutually beneficial group of networks.
To me, that would be a bright future for science blogging. One I'm fully prepared to invest heavily in.
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