It is time to discuss the demise of Scienceblogs

I had earlier noted that I will no longer be blogging at scienceblogs.com, but rather, here, at Greg Laden’s Blog. What happened? Where did Scienceblogs.com go?

I discuss this issue with Mike at Ikonokast Podcast, here. In the same podcast, we also discuss other matters of science and nature, and take a close look at a new Echo Skill, as an exemplar of what an Echo Skill is. I’ll be posting on that Echo Skill shortly as well.

Several days into October, the active bloggers at Scienceblogs.com got a note from the management saying that Scienceblogs would be shut down by the end of the month. We had until that time to make our final arrangements, and the management helped out by providing information on transferring blog posts, and they will be giving us a 301 redirect through the end of November.

Why did Scienceblogs.com close down? No one is quite sure. Anthony Watts, for what it is worth, just took credit for ending Scienceblogs because, he says, he decided to ignore me, and the rest is apparently the inevitable cascading of events. Since Scienceblogs.com shut down with very little fanfare, I have to assume that Anthony has been playing very close attention to both me and the other bloggers here, in order to identify the moment when his devious plan took effect. But as is true with all paragraphs that include the phrase “Anthony Watts,” this is a useless digression..

Scienceblogs was created by Adam Bly as an effort to expand and enhance the unfettered conversation about science. It mostly did that. The parent organization was Seed, and Seed had a magazine (called “Seed Magazine”) meant to be a slick science monthly. And it was. Seed and Scienceblogs.com were to run and develop hand in hand. But, as is the case with almost all new magazines, no matter how fantastic they are, Seed did not take off so that project was terminated. Interestingly, those of us who were blogging at Scienceblogs learned that Seed stopped being published when we noticed that a couple of months had gone by since receiving our last monthly issue. On inquiry, we found out it had at least temporarily stopped publishing.

You will remember that at a later time, we became “National Geographic Scienceblogs.” A lot of people thought that meant that we were bought by National Geographic. That was never true. Even if everyone says it was true, it simply was not. Indeed, there are a lot of things out there with the name “National Geographic” attached, that National Geographic does not own. (Like those TV documentaries, for example. For years they have been joint ventures of Fox Media, or some version of Fox and NGS.)

Here is what did happen. Seed continued to own and operate Scienceblogs.com, and National Geographic obtained exclusive rights to manage and put stuff in all the advertising space on the Scienceblogs.com site. At the same time, National Geographic invested in various site upgrades, including some look and feel changes. Among the look and feel changes was the use of the National Geographic gold color in certain lines running around the page.

Other arrangements were made between National Geographic and Scienceblogs, but none of them developed into anything so I won’t bother mentioning them here. Nothing interesting, but do feel free to generate myriad conspiracy theories on the basis of this paragraph!

Then, one day, and I have no idea which day, National Geographic quietly withdrew from the arrangement. I’m sure the Seed management knew this happened, how could they not? But the bloggers were not informed until much later, perhaps months later. I have no idea. The golden line running around the border disappeared, and eventually the phrase “National Geographic” which may or may not have been subtly branded here and there on the site also disappeared. I never received any official indication this had happened. I did learn of it in a private conversation with management, a conversation about something entirely different, and that was in confidence. So, it would be accurate to say that National Geographic secretly withdrew from its association with Scienceblogs.com. Why? I don’t know! But do feel free to generate myriad conspiracy theories.

After that, Seed continued to manage scienceblogs.com, but as far as I can tell, “Seed” consisted of a mysterious woman with deep Eastern European connections named Vera, and a guy named Wes who for the longest time remained as a helpful background figure and the primary contact with the bloggers.

A while back I had the occasion to have a long talk with Vera, during which I learned that Scienceblogs was actively seeking an owner or investor, and that this wasn’t going well. This was late last year some time, or maybe early this year. Then, last month, we got the word that Scienceblogs.com was going off the air.

I would like to personally thank Adam Bly, who thought of this whole thing long ago and allowed it to work. I think I also want to thank him for having financially supported Scienceblogs right up until this month. I don’t know that he did that, nobody has said that he did that, but I suspect he has been doing it all along. Why do I suspect this? Because at the very same time Scienceblogs.com closed down, Adam Bly experienced h is last day at Spotify. You see, way back in time during the vague history of Seed and Scienceblogs, Seed bought Spotify, or Seed was bought by Spotify, or in some manner or another, toe two borged into each other. And now, at the moment that Scienceblogs shut down, Adam Bly noted on his Facebook page, that he was leaving Spotify and of to a new adventure, a new and mysterious adventure. The idea here, of course, is that Adam is cleaning up, sharpening the pencils, and getting ready for a new thing. Like one does.

Good luck Adam!

I don’t know where all the extant and newly former scienceblogs.com bloggers are going, but here are at least a few links to either their new blog or their online presence. If you have more, let me know:

Aardvarchaeology
Aetiology
A Few Things Illconsidered
Casaubon’s Book: Unknown
Class M
Confessions of a Science Librarian
Deltoid
Denialism
Discovering Biology in a Digital World
Dynamics of Cats
Life Lines by Dr. Dolittle
Pharyngula
Respectful Insolence
Significant Figures: Peter has not set something up new, but hopefully he will soon.
Starts with a Bang
Stoat
The Pump Handle
Uncertain Principles (Archive)
Page 3.14

This list includes only those blogs that were to varying degrees active at the time the plug got kicked out of the wall. There are many other earlier blogs that long ago dissolved or moved elsewhere, but I assume you already know about them!

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13 thoughts on “It is time to discuss the demise of Scienceblogs

  1. I was going to allow the full range of reactions on this post, but I won’t allow a death threat. This comment has been deleted. “Your Mom” you have been warned. -the management

  2. … National Geographic invested in various site upgrades, including some look and feel changes.

    Including some weird changes to the commenting process, which resulted in erasure of much of that archive. 😛

    And a declaration of “family-friendly” censorship, with the deplorable exception of the ERV/slymepit tarfu.

  3. Some who left long before the current situation

    Ed Brayton’s Dispatches of the Culture Wars is at http://www.patheos.com/blogs/dispatches/

    Jason Rosenhouse’s evolutionblog retired last year so he could keep up with book writing.

    MarkCC’s Good Math Bad Math moved to http://www.goodmath.org/blog/ though he’s been a little less active due to day job reasons.

    Those are some of the ones I continued to follow (along with PZ) after that ‘Pepsi’ fiasco a while back caused some to move on.

  4. Casaubon’s Book isn’t blogging. She’s on FB though, under her name. It’s less about farming and ecology now and more about fostering.

  5. Cheers for the links Greg laden.

    Sad news. I wish they hadn’t shut scienceblogs down completely even if they stopped adding new blog posts and comments.

    I know Pharyngulag=has transferred old blog posts – with comments I think maybe? – But a lot of other stuff may well have vanished forever which is a shame.

    Wonder if the wayback machine is / or present or future tech will be able / to recover some or all of the work that was typed in over many years here – or rather back then when scienceblogs existed?

    So much for the internet being forever?

    1. Dóh! Typo for the name of Pharyngula was definitley NOT intentional.

      Would really appreciate if this could be fixed and altered accordingly please Greg Laden and apologies.

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