I learned with dismay this morning that blogchild Mark Chu-Carroll has decided to leave ScienceBlogs over our management’s incredibly bone-headed decision to host a blog written by PepsiCo. Given that Mark’s blog was the first (and, as far as I know, only) blog directly inspired by my efforts over the last few years, I find Mark’s departure especially saddening. Even worse, Mark’s joining a growing exodus that has led to some serious and not-so-serious speculation over who’s going to be left here when the dust settles.
I can honestly say that, as I write this in my hotel room in Las Vegas, awake and unable to go back to sleep at 5 AM because of the three hour time change, I don’t know myself, including my own case. Pepsigeddon happened at an odd time, and I’m at TAM8 right now, which means that I haven’t been paying as close attention to what’s been going on as I normally would have. Maybe this is a good thing, because I can wait and see how things shake out, free of obsessing over each little twist and turn in this fast-moving soap opera that’s less than two days old. On the other hand, although Seed has taken some steps in the right direction, I’m not sure it’s going to be enough. The damage to the brand is serious, and the good ship ScienceBlogs is listing heavily, all due to its captain deciding to have a smoke in the munitions storage area. Here’s a hint for Adam Bly and Seed: When a story like this about you makes the newspapers, it’s not a good thing for you, and it’s not a good thing for your bloggers. Oh, sure, in the short term it’ll probably boost traffic nicely, but that’s not the kind of traffic boost I want.
Management also clearly doesn’t get it, but some of us don’t get it either. In fact, some flaming moron here among us didn’t help matters by leaking Adam Bly’s e-mail to us to the press yesterday. I must admit, I was fuming after I read his e-mail, but leaking it served no purpose other than to publicize our problems and betray a trust to the point where management will likely never trust us again. On the other hand, the e-mail made it clear that to say that Bly doesn’t get it is akin to saying that Mike Adams doesn’t get medicine, a massive understatement, and its being out there now allows me to do what I couldn’t do before: comment on it. Seldom have I seen such a load of self-serving, self-righteous twaddle all built around incinerating a Burning Man-sized straw man argument (that we bloggers object to giving industry scientists “a seat at the table”). It’s so epic that it deserves its own heapin’ helpin’ of not-so-Respectful Insolence if I had the time and motivation. Trust me, I never thought I’d say that about Bly.
Meanwhile someone whom I respect, David Colquhoun, is out and out telling me that I must dissociate myself from ScienceBlogs for the sake of my credibility. Maybe he’s right, but I have a lot of history here, and I don’t really want to leave. I’ve never made a rash decision over something like this before, and I don’t intend to now, but damned if Bly isn’t making it very hard not to. Even so, I’m going to wait at least until after I get back from Vegas next week before I make any decisions. Who knows? Maybe management will manage to extract its cephalic regions from its rectum by then.