Morris, MN — For the final act of the drama that has captured the imagination of science blogging fans around the world, PZ Myers of Pharyngula plans to announce his decision live on the Discovery Channel at 9 on Thursday night.
The arrangement, first reported by Discovery, was confirmed by a person close to Myers, who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on Myers behalf.
Yesterday, Myers met with representatives of Discover, Google, Wired, and many others to discuss his plans in regard to the ScienceBlogs free blogagency diaspora. Now, they and everyone else will soon find out Myers' highly anticipated plans. Thursday marks the first day that free bloggers can sign new contracts that have been verbally agreed upon. Starting yesterday, bloggers and blog hosts were allowed to negotiate, but not consummate new deals.
The most-hyped free blogagency diaspora in science blogging history has so far been mostly bluffs, whispers and hypothetical situations. Prominent bloggers like Sharon Astyk of Casabaun's Book, David Dobbs of Neuron Culture, Chris Rowan of Highly Autochthonous, Dave Bacon of The Quantum Pontiff, Scicurious, Blake Stacey of Science After Sunclipse, Alex Wild of Myrmecos, PalMD of the White Coat Undergound, Dr. Isis of On Becoming a Domestic and Laboratory, GrrlScientist of Living the Scientific Life, Janet Stemwedel of Adventures in Ethics and Science, Brian Switek of Laelaps, and many others are all reportedly on the move, but the details remain murky.
But one player has emerged who may be a key factor in the decisions of Myers and other prominent soon to be ex-ScienceBlogs bloggers: Ed Yong of Not Exactly Rocket Science. Yong blogs at the highly respected Discover blog site with other stars like Carl Zimmer of the Loom. Yong, regarded as one of the most sought after free bloggers is reported to be happy at Discover but also is considering his options.
“The days are passing by a lot quicker now,” Yong wrote Wednesday on his Twitter page. “It’s always like that when you have to make a BIG decision.”
Myers and Bora (of Blog Around the Clock), Brian Switek (of Laelaps) and Scicurious all reportedly want to co-write a blog with Yong, according to multiple news reports. Myers has never blogged directly with an science blogger as talented as Yong, although Yong was at Scienceblogs for some time before moving to Discover. Bora paired with others to win a blog championship in 2006. Switek has blogged with a variety of support personnel, but none enough to carry him to the blogging championship. In turn, Yong, according to news reports, has shown interest in blogging with Myers, Bora, Switek, Scicurious or all of them.
Last week, Yong, who shares an blogging agent with Switek, posted a picture on Twitter of the two of them at dinner. The caption ended “although it feels like someone is missing......” in a reference to Myers.
Discover Blogs General Manager Diana Scover conceded before free blogging began that Yong would probably sign with another team. If Yong does, he will lose the sixth year on his guaranteed blogging contract and earn less money under the so-called Rebecca Skloot rules rules that offer perks to free bloggers who remain with their organization.
Therefore, Yong would need Discover to facilitate a sign-and-trade deal with his preferred blogging site to maintain those benefits.
In a text message, Joe Eisen, the agent for Yong and Switek, confirmed that ScienceBlogs had inquired about landing Yong in a sign-and-trade deal. Eisen did not say if Yong would be interested in blogging for ScienceBlogs should Myers return. ScienceBlogs would be over the blogging cap and would not be able to sign Yong outright. Given the recent controversy at ScienceBlogs it seems highly unlikely Yong would go there whether Myers remained or not.
A sign-and-trade deal with Discover would almost certainly cost the ScienceBlogs a prominent blogger like Dr. Isis, and Discover would also probably use any deal to try to free itself of one of their expensive contracts like that of Carl Zimmer, which extends another four years.
A Discover official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss blogger movement publicly, said Discover had “nothing imminent” with a sign-and-trade deal for Yong. A deal between Discover and ScienceBlogs appears improbable.
Flush with blogging-cap space, Wired and Google who also met with Myers and Bora and Switek, have sought ways to land Yong. ScientificBlogging, the first site that met with Yong when free blogging started, are hopeful they can obtain Yong, a Sacramento native, in a sign-and-trade deal.
Google meanwhile, can offer Myers, Bora, Scicurious, and Switek a talented blogging support staff and massive exposure, even if they have no prominent science bloggers to speak of currently.
On Wednesday, Myers, Bora, Scicurious, and Switek retreated to their blogging camps. None met with reporters, and Bora canceled a scheduled news conference at his youth event in North Carolina.
Myers arrived nearly four hours late at his evolution academy in his hometown with a contingent that included his business manager, Chaz Darwin, the prominent atheist scientist Richard Dawkins, and others.
Myers walked onto the floor and watched while some of the country’s top high school science bloggers writing for a second day. He playfully wrote twitter posts from the floor during a break and then retreated through a side door.
Anticipation mounted that Myers would use social media outlets as a conduit to release the news of his destination. After recently activating his dormant MySpace page, Myers created a Twitter account Wednesday that gained more than 85,000 followers before his first message, which broke his public silence from the start of free blogging.
But those who hoped his first message would deliver the big news were vastly disappointed:
“Hello World, the Real PZ is in the Building ‘Finally,’ ” it read, before crediting Dr. Kiki for motivating him to join.
Still, Myers had attracted nearly 150,000 followers by 7 p.m. Richard Dawkins, confirmed that the account belonged to Myers but said that Myers would probably not use Twitter to release his decision.
Instead, he’ll use Discover
With apologies to the New York Times and Jonathan Abrams to leveraging an article of theirs.