So the big news finally came out yesterday; Carl and Phil have moved on over to blogs run by Discover (which also houses Reality Base, Better Planet, 80 Beats, Disco Blog). With Jennifer starting up an additional blog over at the Discovery Channel site (which has a collection of space blogs) the past few months have marked an influx of science bloggers into a variety of well-known media outlets. (I may eventually have a similar announcement in the future, but no worries; I’m not going anywhere.) Is all this shuffling and moving to newer digs good for science blogging?
Although some people have expressed doubts about the quality of the normal science content at Discover (I wouldn’t know; I don’t read it) I think that the development of more science blog communities is a good thing, particularly if the move allows writers to be paid. Science blogging takes a lot of effort (i.e. it took me at least two hours to write my Darwin/Wallace post from last night), and if media outlets are willing to pay science bloggers I think that’s a good thing. I have no idea what compensation bloggers at big media outlets may or may not receive (and it’s none of my business), but if science bloggers are getting paid I think that’s a big step forward. I hope there will always be a lively non-professional segment of the science blogosphere but it is also good to know that it is possible to become a science writer and keep the lights on. “Going commercial” will have benefits and drawbacks just as any other form of writing does, but it does open wider the diversity of options available to science bloggers.
I see the development of new science blogging communities as opening up new areas on a map. There will be communication within them and across community boundaries, each collection of writers having its own strengths and weaknesses. We’re all still connected, though, as it is easy to link to something someone wrote no matter where they may be writing and feeds allowing everyone to still pick out their favorite writers regardless of where their material might show up.
Indeed, the science blogosphere is rapidly evolving, branching out into new directions and writers having increased influence. At the moment many of the people being asked to move over to new digs are established writers, people who have really proven themselves to be the cream of the crop, but who knows? Perhaps we will soon see “home grown” science bloggers gaining more recognition. Being one such writer myself I certainly hope that this will be so! Writing for media outlets can be more restrictive though and is not always a good fit; it is another option for writers but I certainly hope that the main body of the science blogosphere will continue to be made up of people who just enjoy writing whenever they find the time.