Don't get me wrong - I love the writing at Wired Science, ScienceBlogs.com, Discover, Scientopia, Guardian Science Blogs, Nature Network, PLoS Blogs, and so on - but Bora was really smart about this. He saw the growth in the niche, looked at what was working best, saw what could improve, and just plain NAILED IT:
Another thing I was particularly interested in was to find bloggers who in some way connect the “Two Cultures” as described by C.P.Snow. Some connect science to history, philosophy, sociology or ethics. Many are very interested in science education, communication and outreach. Some make connections between science and popular culture, music, art, illustration, photography, cartoons/comic strips, poetry, literature, books, movies, TV, video, etc. Several produce such cross-discipline and cross-cultural material themselves – at least two are musicians, two are professional photographers, several produce videos, two are professional artists, a couple are authors of multiple books, some produce their own blog illustrations. But there are also commonalities – they all have strong knowledge of their topic, they strictly adhere to the standards of scientific evidence, they are all very strong writers, and they are all enthusiastic to share their work with a broader audience.
When I put together this group, with such diverse interests and styles, it was not surprising to discover that, without really having to try hard to make it so, they also display diversity in many other areas: geography, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, age, personal/professional/scientific background and more. This is something that is important for science, and is important in the science blogging world.This is brilliant for two big reasons: first, diversity is a source of enormous strength in science and pretty much everything else. It's the right thing to do. Second because it makes science immediately relevant to people with diverse interests - music, art, history, pop-culture, sports, education, and so on - the network has the capacity to grow its readership much more than other science blog networks.
My initial reaction is that SciAm's emergence with a large, smart roster may thin the herd of networks a little bit. I notice some writers have left their networks to join SciAm's, and since there are only so many blog posts you can read in a day, readers will go for the quality content first.
I may flesh this thinking out a bit more but here's one prediction/caution for those writing for another network. If you start to get several emails from your editors or managers providing "guidelines" on how to write in ways that generate more traffic like throwing celebrity references in the titles or providing more posts with repetitive phrases, your network is following an unsustainable strategy. Your editors care more about Google search terms than you. They want your words but not necessarily your thoughts. The first network to do this will probably be the first one to go.
UPDATE: PZ Myers is already declaring ScienceBlogs.com "dead" and hinting that he's leaving. Pharyngula is basically half of SEED/SB's traffic and I notice that the new SciAm network has at least a couple of SB peeps on it. I'm guessing the folks at National Geographic aren't pleased. Leave it to an evolutionary biologist to tell us what happens when something doesn't adapt to a changing environment...