Yesterday I learned from my dear blog friend Drugmonkey that ScienceBlogs will not be renewing the contracts of pseudonymous bloggers. As many of you know, ScienceBlogs is under new direction from National Geographic and the new navigators have a different vision about how their slice of the science blogosphere will look and act. I have absolutely nothing negative to say about it. In a lot of ways, being at ScienceBlogs was very good for me and I am not ungrateful for the opportunities I had there or for the people I have met.
But that didn’t change the realities of my situation or my need to evaluate my own future directions. The good folks at National Geographic offered the opportunity to stay if we were willing to deidentify with our pseudonyms and write under our given names. I’ve heard a lot over the last few weeks about the reasons people choose to use a pseudonym. For me, it’s a matter of professional identity and, for better or worse, one’s identity begins on the internet. I have a very happy, healthy little research program and one of the ways my research is tracked is by my name. Much of science operates that way. Collaborations form between people with names. When I review a manuscript, if I am unfamiliar with the author, the first thing I do is perform a search on Google. When I want to check on the progress of someone in my field, I search for their name. At this stage in my career, it is professionally beneficial for me to be easily found and associated with my work. My professional work doesn’t include shoes and mommy stories and makeup and science hilarity. Given that those writings are orders of magnitude more popular (and by popular, I probably mean accessed) than anything I’ve written scientifically, I think it’s important to spare my scientific colleagues 1000+ posts before they find my science. So, I’ve always considered being Dr. Isis like being Dr. Seuss. Taking this name for this purpose doesn’t change the things I say (or don’t say), or the fact that many who know me as Dr. Isis are also familiar with my scientific work, but it does allow me to carefully partition my lives. It lets me choose when to focus on science and when to focus on this place and gives me the power to prevent each from distracting the other.
Figure 1: Like oil and water. As an aside, this image from Sharon Johnstone’s line of notecards is one of my favorites. Check her out here.
But, I also think that you like this barrier that exists between us. I don’t believe that the general readers of this blog have really ever used their right to be pseudonymous to abuse each other. I think it’s always been more like a confessional. You can discuss things here about your lives and careers that you might not discuss in person with your colleagues. Or with me if you really knew who I really was and had to be worried that we might someday meet face-to-face at some meeting and I’d know all of your secrets.
So, the question became what to do with Isis the Scientist. If you had asked me last night, I was seriously leaning toward killing her off. These last many months in the blogosphere have been dra-matic on the back ends. Pepsigate and then the question of who is going where and what is each network going to do. About once a week, Chicken Little would appear and the sky would start falling. Except then it wouldn’t really. I like a good, brief blog war but the constancy of this situation has been exhausting. Even posting shoes hasn’t been fun. I mean, SHOES! It’s hard to be hilarious when your butthole clenches at the thought of the next round of falling sky.
Still, I remember a time when I was pretty hilarious and I found the blogosphere equally hilarious. Writing about my life and science, and the absurdity of it all, amused me. So, given that Isis the Scientist can’t stay at ScienceBlogs and maintain her pseudonymous ways, I’m going to try to make a go of it alone again. Maybe it’s all a blessing to have had this blog evicted from the nest, and it will offer Isis the Scientist the opportunity to refind my old, hilarious self. Or reinvent a new, hilarious self.
I wish all of my friends and colleagues remaining at ScienceBlogs nothing but the best of luck. I still think that network as a lot of potential and that their partnership with National Geographic could be a very good thing.
In the mean time, Mama’s gotta do me.