Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The More Things Change ...

Here at the Maison Des Girrafes we have a game called 'Waiting for Crox Minor'. Crox Minor, you see, takes an age and three quarters to get ready for anything, much of which time is occupied lacing up Converse trainers/ getting randomly distracted by cats (more on these later)/ daydreaming about broccoli/ combinations of the above.

The rest of us are already huffing and puffing and in the car, saying things like 'dynasties will rise and fall; mountains will be thrust up from the ocean floor and be ground away to silt [we do love our orogenies at the M des Gs], even the continents are starting to drift apart, and still Crox Minor is lacing up her trainers' and so on and so forth in that vein. Some things change, you see, but others are eternal, and even though the face of the Earth will be changed utterly were one to hang around long enough, it will still take an age and a half for Crox Minor to get her shoes on.

All of which brings me, if in a somewhat elliptical manner, to a minor spat in a far country of which one knows little, a high-profile blogging collective in which some fifteen of the eighty-odd bloggistas have left through feelings of moral outrage, when the proprietor of that network wished to host a paid-for blog by employees of a company that manufactures carbonated drinks. It is not for me to go into details: a wealth of information - a veritable cornucopia - can be yours simply by typing 'Pepsigate' into a search engine near you. However, I'd recommend this post as a one-stop sauce tzores source. This post is significant because the author, one Sir Bora de Zivkovic, is the author of one of the best-respected blogs on this particular network - and he himself has decided to leave. His parting shot is this magisterial post on the changing face of the blogging ecosystem.

Bora, like Rabbit in Winnie-The-Pooh, is a busy person. His blog is a never-ending carnival, link-fest, news aggregator and source of wisdom, and if that isn't enough, he (with some help from his friends and relations) has set up the enormo-phenomenon that is the ScienceOnline meatspace meetings, and the Open Laboratory best-of-science-blogging annuals. Unlike Rabbit, who is rather bossy, Bora is the nicest, kindest person you could ever meet, and, it seems, an inspiration to many. I first met him at SciFoo back in 2007, and the following year had the great pleasure of welcoming him to the Maison Des Girrafes, where he was a hit with all the Croxii, especially Heidi, who flirted with him something rotten.

Now, this is not a wake, and I'm sure the never-ending circus that is Bora's blog will roll on to even greater success somewhere else. Taking the long view, all things must pass - even dynasties, mountains and continents - and it could be that the blogging collective to which I refer has passed the noontide of its success, and will be succeeded by other things, as Bora describes eloquently in his post. Such seems to be the natural order of things.

Blogging collectives, are, possibly, inherently unstable entities, given the outspoken and often wayward natures of the participants. The aforementioned enterprise hosts (or did until recently) many bloggers whose work and personalities I like a great deal - and many others, it is fair to say, whose work and personalities I like rather less. That's probably as it should be - but it implies that such entities are not built to last. John Wilkins, the wry ol' silverback of the science blogosphere, likens such an enterprise to herding cats.

Cats, not being herded, recently.
At first I imagined he was talking about me and my editorial colleagues, or the members of my synagogue, collectives of intelligent, articulate and opinionated people who all like to talk at once, but the metaphor works just as well for science bloggers. The blogging platforms may change, and change again. But the bloggers, bless 'em, will stay the same. At least until they get a dog.
Cat and Dog
Cat, successfully herded by Dog. Yesterday.


  1. One of my cousins was so distracted by personal ornamentation choices, grooming decisions, cats, and books, that she too took ages to get ready. My uncle once started to drive off down the street without her, and thence ensued wailing and lamentations and desolation of Heathcliffean proportions. Driving off is not recommended - my uncle felt terrible, and my cousin still takes ages to get ready.

    Bora is that rara avis of the blogosphere, in that he is almost always other-centered in what he writes. His interviews are a prime example of his generosity of spirit in blogging and sharing science. It continues into meatspace, with his organization of the Science Online meetings.

    Most of the other science bloggers are like the Beatles' song: "All through the day ... I me mine, I me mine, I me mine". "I am amused" "I am not amused" "I am disgusted" "I am impressed" "I am not impressed" "I am flying here and there" "SMG gives me butthurt" Blogs are inherently self-referential, but there's such a thing as overdoing it. Blech.

  2. I think you're absolutely right about Bora - he is selfless, which is unusual in the blogosphere.

  3. If nothing else, a resolution of teh Sb dramaz might bring about the disappearance of certain bloviators (not to mention posts about teh Sb dramaz) from the pages of NN. Put me right off my lunch, it did. Good news for lecture and clay model preparation, however.

    I think I'll unplug and go make some tomato sauce from the fruits of my little garden ... will make a nice taste of summer on a rainy winter day.

  4. Hah. It'll all blow over. A few weeks time there'll be something else for people to get all hysterical about.

  5. Blag drama invariably blows over. Honestly, though, I think there are some blogs that I'll never look at again, now that they've left Sb. The occasional interesting post is not enough to push me over the activation barrier of looking for them.

    I decided that a batch of pesto was a more pressing concern - the tomatoes can wait another day or two. Basil is taking over a quadrant of the garden, so I harvested an armful, and now I reek of the stuff. Perhaps it will keep the mosquitoes at bay when I walk the dog later.

    For my last comment, I had to type in the word "inglings", which reminded me of Tolkien. ;-)

  6. That post of B Z's was extreeeeeeeeemely long. And a typical blog post (not of him, but of a certain type of blogger's) "history from my point of view". I suppose, like an editorial, reinvented blogger (highly personal) style.