Tuesday, January 24, 2006

blog consolidation

I recently subscribed to two newish science magazines. One is Scientific American Mind, which is, well, what you'd expect from the title. Scientific American-style coverage of psychology and neuroscience. It's pretty good. Last issue had a good article on Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys as a case study of executive function (and disfunction), and an interesting article on possible drugs to prevent consolidation of traumatic memories.

The other new magazine I subscribed to is Seed. Seed is interesting. Its tag is "Science is Culture", and it's sort of a pop Discover. A bit like Wired, but for science instead of technology.

In addition to their magazine, Seed just started a new umbrella for science blogs, called, uh, scienceblogs.com. ScienceBlogs will have a couple of dozen major blogs about scientific topics, some new, and some former independent blogs. I'm subscribed to Cognitive Daily, about cognitive science, and Uncertain Principles, about physics, and I used to subscribe to Gene Expression (until their RSS feed got screwed up and I stopped seeing new articles).

This is an interesting new trend in the blogosphere. Blogs, which used to be fun little sites where people talked about their work or their pets or horribly dull stuff like that, have now become a real and significant business, and a way for new professional writers to be exposed to the world. Bloggers are getting book contracts. This sort of quasi-independent blog, published under the umbrella of a larger organization, but with independent editorial content, seems to be the way of the future for the larger blogs.

It's true in the other two topics of this blog as well. In food, last month saw the unveiling of an umbrella for several new food blogs by well-known bloggers. The Well Fed Network has blogs on desserts, spirits, the food media, and the food industry, and will be expanding. In New York City, there are conglomerates such as Curbed, a snarky NYC real-estate blog, that also runs Eater, a snarky high-end NYC restaurant blog, and The Gutter, a snarky NYC architecture blog. (Curbed, in particular, is highly recommended!)

I've seen a couple of instances of growth making blogs noticibly less good. DailyKos, a left-leaning political group blog has gotten noisier as the number of participants has grown exponentially. The quality is still there, but it's harder to find. One of the first blogs I read, The Amateur Gourmet, is noticibly less creative and fun to read than it was a year ago. It'll be interesting to see if consolidation makes blogs less good, or if they're perceived as being less authentic because they now have budgets and staff and revenue.

Fortunately, my loyal dozen or so readers need not fear losing me! I'm not about to get a book deal, but unlike in other media, I'm not going to be pressed out of the blogging universe because some people are turning pro. Because of the long tail phenomenon, there's room for people like me, who write as a creative/expressive outlet, who have no desire or hope of ever being paid. And really, that's probably a good thing. I enjoy a few high-end classy blogs, with budgets and staffs and revenue. But I also like low-end random blogs, written by friends and random people whose sites I've just run across. We're not going to get consolidated....



At 12:41 PM, Blogger Mona said...

Just found your blog. Hello from another NYC foodie. I like your blog title.


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