I am immensely, indescribably sad to learn this morning via an emailed missive from Spektrum der Wissenschaft (the German publishers behind our SciLogs.com platform) that they are going to shutter this platform down in September, the ostensible reason being that they “weren’t able to find investors for this platform” – the bane of any private endeavor. Some of you, my fellow Scilogs bloggers, may have known this already, but I certainly didn’t. More fool me.
The email paints the origin of SciLogs thusly: “When we started SciLogs.com in 2011, we did so with the goal of establishing a major international science blogging network under one single brand.” That is somehow not how I remember the turn of events. (Pardon me if this is all wrong; I have a terrible memory.)
I do remember how, in early 2010, I got an opportunity to start blogging at Natureblogs, hosted on the servers of the premier science journal, Nature; at that time, Natureblogs was a loosely-defined collective of unpaid amateur bloggers derived from a pool of science professionals, whose passion for communicating different aspects of scientific research matched their passion for their own professional endeavors. Naturally, I jumped at the chance to write there – making my very first post on March 12, 2010.
As we moved along as a group, at times there were technical difficulties as well as some amount of dissatisfaction with various aspects of the platform. I don’t remember them too well —perhaps I have blocked out those unpleasant memories— but sometime in late 2011 (if I remember correctly), the Nature Network jettisoned the blogging platform to Spektrum, who already had their German-language science blogging portal (SciLogs.de), renaming our English-language platform to “SciLogs.com”. Some of the bloggers who disagreed with this move withdrew from the group; others, including me, went on to be a part of this —then-new and exciting— endeavor. There was likely some politics behind this transition (as for everything else in life), but I didn’t know enough to care. I mean, how could I not, as a fledge-ling science-blogger, embrace this opportunity, especially when the mission statement at SciLogs.com was simply so fantastic and exuded such a feeling of genuineness and sincerity?
Good Science is transparent and provides us with new knowledge about the world and ourselves. As an important part of our culture and society, science is never isolated. Sharing new results and recent developments as well as ongoing dialogue with the public are characteristics of good science.
Good blogs are personalized, authentic and active. Often, they provide unique perspectives. Blog posts are genuine invitations for dialogue; readers are invited to comment and to ask the bloggers questions.
The SciLogs combine the strengths of both science culture and the blog medium. They provide scientists and those interested in science with the opportunity to interact in interdisciplinary discussions about science in all its forms: research, practical applications, ethics, politics etc.
The sense of belonging to a larger group of individuals ignited by the common passion to communicate and promote science and scientific thinking was nothing to sniff at either; I cherished that feeling. And for me as a blog-reader, the platform provided a veritable cornucopia of science information, even in fields outside my area of direct expertise – namely, science communication, policy, education, and publishing. SciLogs has been an inspiring network with vibrant bloggers, representing various ways of science, science communication and education, and willing to engage with a community of readers enthusiastic about scientific matters.
Thanks to the technical people behind SciLogs, the transition was relatively smooth. The individual posts, and most crucially, the comments came over just fine from Natureblogs. I was off writing. Well… As much as I could. Blogging was, and still is, an unpaid-but-time-consuming labor of love for me; I love to write on and discuss scientific issues that attract me, and debunk pseudoscience when I see it (and oh! There is just so damn much of it everywhere these days!). But I could never write as much as I wanted to, because my day job as a scientist places a significant demand on my time and efforts. Even then, whenever I could write, I enjoyed the experience.
No less important has been the experience of reading, and interacting with, my fellow SciLogs bloggers on their individual blogs. I simply must mention at least a few of them:
|Six Incredible Things Before Breakfast||Curated links to science stories, presented in an inimitable fashion with succinct, precise commentary by biologist Dr. Malcolm Campbell|
|From The Lab Bench||One of my most favorite reads, most interesting commentary on the art and science of science communication, by scientist-turned-science communicator, Dr. Paige B Jarreau, who also happens to be our current community manager for SciLogs|
|Mmmbitesizescience||Brilliant commentary on various aspects of science and scientific disciplines delivered in an easily understandable way, by British scientist and science writer, Dr. Stephanie Swift|
|Communication Breakdown||A fabulous commentary about science communication, journalism and science related current affairs, by science writer Matt Shipman|
|Maniraptora||Science communication and commentary on birds and ornithological studies from one of my favorite science communicators, GrrlScientist, who was a fellow Natureblogs blogger|
|The Mawk Moth Profligacies||Commentary on contemporary political events at the interface of science and society, by Lee Turnpenny, whom I know as a fellow battler of pseudoscience|
… among others. I hope they keep up their blogging elsewhere; some of them have already moved away elsewhere, not maintaining their SciLogs blogs, and I cannot blame them. It pains me to realize that I might or might not be able to keep up with their fascinating writing with brilliant and insightful communication of science.
At SciLogs, we have had the privilege of having our community managed by brilliant, dedicated and extremely helpful community managers. We had Khalil A. Cassimally from the beginning, and when he left for another platform, we had Akshat Rathi, and then Paige Jarreau. They have been the life of the community, each helping in their own way to keep it lively and vibrant. I am going to miss terribly this community and the people here. I haven’t made any plans for myself yet; I can tell you that this feeling of being cut loose is awfully disconcerting and disappointing. But c’est la vie, and there are many other platforms, collective as well as individual, to explore now.