Tuesday, July 05, 2011

The Scientific American Blog Network

Today marks the launch of another blog network. This one is The Scientific American Blog Newtork. Bora Zivkovic is the man behind it.

I read about thirty blogs on a regular basis. Some of them have migrated two or three times over the past five years and I always follow them because they are good blogs. I really don't care whether the blogs I follow are part of a network or not. I don't read the other blogs in a network because my aggregator gives me a direct feed.

What's the purpose behind belonging to a blog network? Does it provide something that you can't get by being an independent blogger? Is it money? Are there any downsides other than the fact that you are lending your name to support for a profit making corporation? If you're supporting a magazine like Discover, Seed (now dead), Nature, or Scientific American does it mean that you stand behind whatever they print?

The thing I find most annoying about commercial blogs is the advertising—some of which is contrary to what's being posted. Is the "profit" to the blogger really significant enough? Maybe it is for PZ Myers but the income for someone like me was peanuts when I last explored that option.


  1. For me, personally, and I do not speak for anyone else at SciAm, it is largely the opportunity to use a well-established platform with name and readership to spread stories about my tiny oft-neglected field. There are benefits of co-blogging with others, at the risk of becoming a slight circlejerk at times (which I try to keep out of my blogging), since the network can provide support and advice when it comes to issues with writing or your own blog community or whatever. And the lasting friendships, those are nice too. But in my case, I felt compelled, as someone semi-officially in charge of public outreach for my area, to take advantage of this opportunity to spread the word, if you will. Hope it clarifies things somewhat...

    Still keeping my other blog though, as it's my own entirely. And no, I don't stand behind any other SciAm material but my own - I didn't write it.

  2. If you're supporting a magazine like Discover, Seed (now dead), Nature, or Scientific American does it mean that you stand behind whatever they print?

    LOL. come now, do you really think anyone would presume that? ok, a few people who aren't internet savvy do seem to think that i represent *discover magazine* and that *discover magazine* represents me. but this is not the typical assumption.

    in any case, remuneration is OK. but the big think is the one-stop-shopping effect. unless you're a really distinctive brand you usually have more traffic and are "noticed" more when you're bundled with other blogs on a network. the second issue is that being with *discover magazine* seems to mean that i have more credibility with people if the "influence" of ppl linking to me is any judge. all things equal i don't care, but it is cool to get more information out there in regards to the science i'm passionate about.

  3. Is it money?

    I suspect it is. Nothing to sneer at. And maybe some extra cushion of dedicated tech support.

  4. Publicity, and assumed credibility.

  5. I like an interesting group of blogs under a single umbrella. These groups usually have a nice summary page of the latest blogs, which I can quickly browse. I can efficiently choose which ones I want to read, including occasional posts from blogs I would not ordinarily have time to follow in detail.

    I do wish the SciAm blog summary page were more informative, more like ScienceBlogs, giving a couple of sentences from each new blog post. Post titles are not informative enough.

  6. @William
    Some of us specifically try to avoid assumed credibility by writing informally and loudly showing off lack of credentials. I am just an undergrad and my stories are [hopefully] accurate and interesting because of the sources I have read and understood correctly, not because of my platform or title or whatever. Which, by the way, should be no different for anyone else, faculty included. Accuracy hinges on sources, while personal expertise is more heavily involved with interpretation thereof, the credibility of which, given accurate sources, can be determined by the reader themselves.

    So no, some of us specifically avoid assumed credibility. Publicity, on the other hand, sure. I can only go so far with a Blogger-run blog on an obscure subject. A network can give me the necessary boost. And I'm promoting my topic here, not myself - I don't even blog under my real name, which I hope is easy enough to guess ;-)

    And I'm not special so I can't be alone in that approach.