It seemed as though the dust had finally settled over the ScienceBlogs/Pepsi fiasco—until yesterday, when another shoe dropped, and it was a big one. In a typically thorough, nuanced post, Bora Zivkovic announced his decision to leave ScienceBlogs, relocating to WordPress.
If you’ll pardon the use of a horrible business buzzword, Bora is a super-connector, spending more effort than anyone else in my blogroll to pass on links, making the ScienceOnline conference a network-y blast, and offering nods to junior members of the online science writing community. In his departure essay, he makes it clear that this kind of connectivity is the point of blogs in general, and the power of ScienceBlogs in particular:
That is huge power. I keep mentioning this power every now and then (see this, this, this and this for good examples) because it is real. Sustained and relentless blogging by many SciBlings (and then many other bloggers who followed our lead) played a large role in the eventual release of ‘Tripoli Six’, the Bulgarian medical team imprisoned in Libya. Sustained blogging by SciBlings (and others who first saw it here) played a large part in educating the U.S.Senate about the importance of passing the NIH open access bill with its language intact. Blogging by SciBlings uncovered a number of different wrongdoings in ways that forced the powers-that-be to rectify them. Blogging by SciBlings brings in a lot of money every October to the DonorsChoose action. Sustained blogging by SciBlings forced SEED to remove the offending Pepsi blog within 36 hours. And if a bunch of SciBlings attack a person who did something very wrong, that person will have to spend years trying to get Google to show something a little bit more positive in top 100 hits when one googles their name (which is why I try to bite my tongue and sleep over it when I feel the temptation to go after a person). The power of the networks of individuals affects many aspects of the society, including the media. [Hyperlinks sic.]
Losing someone who believed so deeply in the social power of the blog network, and who worked so hard to boost that power and channel it to good ends, is a huge blow to ScienceBlogs. It seems to have contributed to PalMD’s decision to quit SB, and decisions by PZ Myers and Greg Laden to go on blog-strike. And now that Bora has joined the ScienceBlogs diaspora, it’ll be interesting to see how his super-connecting shapes the emerging community of independent blogs.