Networks Upon Networks!

By Carl Zimmer | September 1, 2010 1:00 pm

In July I cobbled together a list of the science bloggers who had decided to pull up stakes and leave scienceblogs.com because of a dispute over a blog written by Pepsi. I started the list out of sympathy for bloggers who risk losing lots of readers as they move off the Google radar, expecting that they’d move out of the big scienceblogs city to build a little sod house of their own on the WordPress prairie. But to my surprise, a lot of them have moved into other blog networks, or created new ones of their own, like cities rising from the wasteland. (Mix, my little metaphors, mix!)

For example, some have just moved over to

BigThink

while others have joined new networks such as

Scientopia

The Guardian Science Blogs

and,

just this moment,

PLoS blogs

It’s doubly intriguing to me. Why is there such an enthusiasm for setting up or expanding science blog networks right now? And why have bloggers who were burned by a network decided to join a new one?

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Meta

Comments (12)

  1. And here I am, blogging all by my lonesome self. Don’t mind me, I can handle the isolation (sniffling).

  2. surely some of it has to do with pure hubris, but also, some of these networks (notably scientopia and plosblogs) have been built by the bloggers rather than by a media group, and so the bloggers have found safety in like-thinking numbers.

  3. I suspect that the idea of this or that novel network has been on people’s (or larger entities, like The Guardian) minds off and on all along. Then, like a seed on the outset of he rainy season, they networks take wing and get into the game because the opportunity has blossomed.

    (This is the mix the metaphor blog, right?)

  4. Social media have sprouted like crazy in general across the Web, and even scientists are social creatures! ;-) For both practical and social reasons (& even politically-tinged reasons) networks make a lotta sense, and will no doubt continue to evolve.

  5. I doubt the Scienceblogs issue shook writers’ faith in the miracle of compounding so it makes sense that a lot of new networks would arise – and that other media corporations would take advantage of the chance to get contributors for cheap (or nothing). The best part for writers is that with even more ‘competition’ groups have a lot less ability to exploit writers.

    It’s been an exciting summer!

  6. It takes a lot of time and energy to set up, design, and especially to promote a new blog all by yourself. Joining a network enables a science blogger to spend time on science and writing instead. I’m sure they’ve all checked out their new networks for the issues that caused them to leave ScienceBlogs. Of course, there’s always the possibility of new and different problems ahead, but that’s a chance you take with any new project.

  7. outeast

    In a way it seems an odd question to me. A bit akin to saying, ‘And why have people who were burned by an employer decided to join a new one?’ Setting out as a solo blogger is or being a member of a managed network is loosely analogous to being self-employed or retained by a company, in some ways anyway. You might not like one employer/network, but that doesn’t mean you want the headache, risk, and expense of striking out alone.

    Anyway, Carl, didn’t you leave one hive mind for another?

    (I *am* surprised at people joining Scientopia. To my mind, one of the most obvious issue with SB is just that it has got so damn big – and Scientopia has that problem in spades.)

  8. Carl, your parenthetical aside made me laugh out loud. Just wanted to pass along my appreciation.

  9. And why have bloggers who were burned by a network decided to join a new one?

    Human is a gregarious species. :-)

  10. I have no idea. Bloggers who go from one network to another are LOSERS ;-)

  11. I don’t know that everyone who left after PepsiGate felt “burned” by blog networks. For our part, we just felt that Sb was no longer the best home for our blog – which I assume is not unlike the thinking that led to previous departures from Sb or other networks. Aside from that one episode, I found the network experience as a whole to be a very positive one, both in terms of exposure for our work and in terms of sheer enjoyment, so I had no reservations whatsoever about joining another network. As PalMD mentioned, the fact that some of the new networks are reflecting on what has happened and trying to address concerns that popped up on older blog networks is also reassuring. For me personally, the benefits of being part of a network still dramatically outweigh the downsides, and I think that is true for most bloggers.

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The Loom

A blog about life, past and future. Written by DISCOVER contributing editor and columnist Carl Zimmer.

About Carl Zimmer

Carl Zimmer writes about science regularly for The New York Times and magazines such as DISCOVER, which also hosts his blog, The LoomHe is the author of 12 books, the most recent of which is Science Ink: Tattoos of the Science Obsessed.

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