Whilst I was rock hunting in a region where whisky is far more readily available than wifi, the rapid reorganisation of the science blogosphere has continued with the unveiling of a shiny new blog collective: Scientopia.
Largely the brainchild of Mark Chu-Carroll and Scicurious, Scientopia aims to be “a collective of people who write about science because they love to do so.” Several friends from Scienceblogs have joined the community, including Janet of Adventures in Ethics and Science, GrrlScientist, Zuska and PalMD of White Coat Underground.
Two important things should be noted. Firstly, this new collective is not solely composed of ex-Sciencebloggers looking for a new home; it has reached out and recruited other cool bloggers, such as Skulls in the Stars, Proflike Substance and Candid Engineer. Secondly, not everyone who has left Scienceblogs has ended up at Scientopia. In other words, those who are thinking “here comes the new network, same as the old network”, are a little behind the curve here. Rightly or wrongly, former denizens of Scienceblogs have a certain amount of influence on the way that the science blogosphere evolves in the future, and it is exciting to see that we are not looking inward, but outward; building and growing new communities, either in groups or separately.
I write this because there was a bit of chatter on Twitter earlier in the week about the lack of geobloggers on Scientopia. I know for a fact that this isn’t for lack of trying. I was actually involved with some of the initial discussions as the shape of the new community was being thrashed out, and I know a few other geobloggers were asked if they wanted to participate. In the end, Anne and I both felt that our current aims – to promote the geoblogging community, and to encourage more earth scientists to actively participate in online discussions – were potentially in conflict with the aims of the Scientopia community. Indeed, for all its many virtues, the clear dominance of the biomedical fields at Scientopia just highlights how far we still have to come before online engagement becomes an accepted and commonly used means of engagement and discussion in earth science.
So, the main reason there is not (yet) any geoblogging under the Scientopia banner is that the people who were invited have other plans, and different paths to follow. This is as it should be. I think it is important that we move away from the ‘one network to rule them all’ model. Science blogging is bigger than any one network, and hopefully we are now entering a phase where the online ecosystem more fairly reflects this: ‘a redistribution of energy flow’, as Brian nicely puts it (for further musings, Bora is, as ever, also required reading). The next challenge is to cultivate links and discussions between all those new communities, something which us ex-Sciencebloggers, with our shared connections, are well-placed to take the lead on, even if the technicalities still need thrashing out.
Hmm, maybe there’s the kernal of a session for ScienceOnline 2011 here…