Well, friends, this is the last post I’ll be making on Take As Directed at PLOS Blogs.
Tonight, after the bartender calls, “Time, gentlemen,” we’ll take down the neon lights, pack up the boxes, and head through the ether across the country from PLOS in San Francisco to our new home at Forbes.com in New York City.
I were very fortunate to be among the founding bloggers in September, 2010, when the PLOS Blogs network was launched under the guidance of a superb science writer himself, then-PLOS Community Manager, Brian Mossop. If you’ll recall, this was just after 20+ of us left ScienceBlogs.com in the wake of the ethical failure there that came to be known as Pepsigate. At that time, I had already agreed to move my Terra Sigillata blog to the CENtral Science network of Chemical & Engineering News.
(Addendum: I will be keeping my beloved, original blog at CENtral Science at the same bat channel.)
Around the same time, I also had some very fruitful discussions with Brian about his plans for this new network and the talent that he had already secured. At PLOS, I’m not sure that my writing will ever be at the level of, say, a Steve Silberman or Deborah Blum, but I’m very grateful to Brian for giving me the chance to write among this phenomenal lineup. I also had the freedom here to write about any topic I wanted, including some of my more personal non-scientific writing — I call it “free-range writing” — that has accounted for some of my most highly-read posts.
I also want to thank David Dobbs of Neuron Culture at Wired Science Blogs for recommending that I *not* choose a Latin name for this blog. “Terra Sigillata” certainly makes people think, but it doesn’t consolidate well with regard to long-term memory. For “Take As Directed” I thank my brilliant, lovely, and creative wife, Heather Shaw, for suggesting the blog name and the wonderful crew at SāBOR Design for crafting the masthead.
Now, about 150 posts later, I’ve decided to make a move to a somewhat different audience on the Pharma & Health channel at Forbes.com, home of science and medicine staff writer, Matthew Herper (The Medicine Show), long-time science blog colleague, Emily Willingham (The Science Consumer), and revered pharmaceutical industry writer Ed Silverman, among others.
Among my other reasons for jumping at the chance to move to Forbes.com is that I often feel that we science blogging networks are so often preaching to the converted. I know that we’ll never be able to use facts to reason with people who came to their current views without facts. But there is a middle ground, many people that I’d like to reach who don’t yet even realize that they love science or who at least appreciate the importance of investments in science and technology.
I’m hoping that writing at Forbes.com will expose my content to a social, political, economic, and more conservative demographic than I reach currently. My day job in my state’s capital has certainly convinced me that bipartisan support for science is still approachable so long as scientists stay engaged, optimistic, and understand the motivations of folks with different views.
To my colleagues assembled
Finally, many thanks to each and every PLoS blogger with whom I’ve had the honor to serve. You are truly remarkable communicators who encouraged me with my own craft and set a very high bar for me to meet. I’d love to write more but I want to let y’all know that I’ll always be thinking about you — and seeing many of you regularly!
Soooo, I wish to acknowledge:
Melinda Wenner Moyer at Body Politic for crossing paths with me again and teaching me how to write more breezily when I need to do so (and congratulations on your new baby!).
Herr Doktor Martin Fenner at Gobbledygook for sharing his oncology expertise and all manner of code for nifty gadgets and such. Also for resisting the urge to laugh when I try to speak German.
Seth Mnookin at The Panic Virus who also launched the MIT SciWrite blog for including me in his SciWriteLab discussions and showing me with his book how to even-handedly address a controversial issue that should not be controversial. Seth does not get enough credit for the parts of The Panic Virus (the book) that truly point out where vaccine policy has sometimes come up short . I’m looking forward to seeing you accept your NASW Science in Society Book Award for this fabulous work.
Daniel Lende and Greg Downey at Neuroanthropology for the sweetest combination of anthropology and neuroscience I have come across — and they do it from half a world away from one another. Always a superb read.
Steve Silberman at NeuroTribes for being the writer I strive to be. Steve’s a fearless and compassionate man whose caring intellect breathes in every one of his pieces. He’s been a font of knowledge for me on the Grateful Dead and Crosby, Stills, and Nash (for whom he has written, edited, and co-produced box sets and DVDs) as well as Allen Ginsberg — I can’t believe he’s so young with the breadth of life experiences he’s had. (But don’t ask him about being a restaurant critic.) Steve is also the most content-rich twitterers out there and I’m so looking forward to his upcoming book. I love you, brother.
Peter Janiszewski and Travis Saunders at Obesity Panacea for making me feel guilty every time I sit at my computer and put off designing a standing work station. I’m running, guys, I’m running. In all seriousness, a truthful and accessible source about diet, exercise, and the lack thereof.
John Rennie at The Gleaming Retort for the most colorful (ok, colourful) and humorous (ok, humourous) writing I’ve seen among science journalists and editors. John has an introductory biography on the PLoS blogger forum that really needs to see light of day. Your kindness and much-needed levity renewed me at times when I was most in need.
Shara Yurkiewicz at This May Hurt a Bit… for giving me hope for humanity in the practice of medicine and revealing a glimpse of a rising star among physician-writers. Atul Gawande and Siddhartha Mukherjee, watch your backs!
Emily Anthes at Wonderland for her great work on how environmental factors from fathers can influence their offspring through epigenetics. I’m so excited for her about her upcoming new book, Frankenstein’s Cat: Cuddling Up to Biotech’s Brave New Beasts.
Jessica Wapner at Work in Progress for putting her considerable talent to the topic of oncology, among her other biomedical topics, and for her own upcoming new book, The Philadelphia Chromosome: The Epic Quest to Tame a Single Deadly Gene.
Former PLoS blogger Misha Angrist and homeboy at Genomeboy, for kicking me in the ass to get playing guitar again and a reminder that we need to get together with our daughters soon.
Another former and founding PLoS blogger, Deborah Blum, author of The Poisoner’s Handbook and now at Wired’s Elemental blog, for reigniting my interest in toxicology, showing me how to tell science stories like mystery novels, and always always always free with encouraging words about my writing. I promise not to second guess what’s on my plate or in my drink if we ever have dinner together.
Johanna Kieniewicz (whose name I spelled correctly the first time!) from At The Interface, Ricki Lewis at DNA Science Blog, the gang at Mind the Brain (Jim Coyne, Shali Jain, Fabiana Kubke, and Marc Lewis): I never got to know you but I wish the best to all of you in your pursuits here at PLOS Blogs.
Thank you again to PLOS, I greatly value the mission of open-access publishing and that will not change with my departure.
The most important “thank you”
And, most certainly, thank *you* — The Reader. I enjoy simple journalling but a blog has no purpose unless it is read by others and teaches or informs. I greatly appreciate the trust you have given me. I’m grateful for the time you spend reading when demands on that precious resource are so great and that you choose to spend it here when so many other superb sites exist. Your feedback has always been valuable whether it came from online comments or private emails — you help me improve and create the sense of community that brought me to blogging. I hope that you will join me at my new home: