|PZ without his makeup?|
A new blog network is hitting the web on August 1. Led by two of the most prominent and widely read secular-minded blogs in the country - PZ Myers' Pharyngula and Ed Brayton's Dispatches from the Culture Wars - Freethoughtblogs.com will, we hope, quickly become and important gathering place for atheists, humanists, skeptics and freethinkers in the blogosphere.That's right - Scienceblogs.com's (now owned by National Geographic) most popular blogger - and the guy responsible for maybe half of its web traffic - is taking his "hottest" content to another site, and he's taking another Scibling with him. Perhaps adding insult to injury, Dr. Myers even used his perch at Scienceblogs as a tool to acquire technical support for Scienceblog's newest competitor after the new site crashed:
Freethoughtblogs will be more than just a place for people to read the opinions of their favorite bloggers. It will be a community of like-minded people exchanging ideas and joining forces to advocate for a more secular and rational world.
...What you can do to help is give us concrete recommendations for a better situation, either a Virtual Private Server or a dedicated host. Leave info, links, phone numbers, whatever in the comments, or email me so we can work out a deal fast...So I'm thinking there isn't a non-compete clause in his contract. But here's what really made me say hmmm - an entry from Myers on Google+:
I will still be maintaining my relationship with Scienceblogs and National Geographic, but only select content will appear there: that is, science, anti-creationism, that sort of thing...the openly anti-religious material will be on FtB only. So if you're a Christian, you'll now be able to read Sb Pharyngula without crying (but don't fool yourself, I'll still be despising your foolish belief system); if you're a teacher, you'll be able to tell your students to read Sb Pharyngula without fearing the wrath of the PTA.I'm sorry, I can't understand why National Geographic, the new owners of Scienceblogs.com, didn't just ask for a clean break. It's clear they want to control content to fit their squeaky-clean brand, and it's clear Myers makes them very nervous. But if you worry about these things, Myers is simply "radioactive." This isn't the same thing as an actor who appears in movies rated "R" and then shows up in a Disney flick - You simply can't separate PZ Myers' content from his personal brand.
It creates issues for Myers too - it raises the perception that he agreed to be censored for a buck. He's announced he's only going to put "science" content on SB - can he link to his other blog? Can he mention it? Will content that was previously published on SB that no longer meets NatGeo's brand standards be removed?
SEED Media's sad history of unresponsiveness to its bloggers' concerns, its hesitancy and dumbfounding silence in the aftermath of Pepsigate, and the slow pace of public transition to National Geographic has really set this network back. SB still has a handful of good writers - Greg Laden, the ever-angry Orac, Isis, Mike the Mad Biologist, Sharon Astyk, to name a few - but now the network can't sell web traffic to advertisers, and that creates a new set of problems.