This is the part of the story where I elide a bunch of biz details because a) boring b) I probably said I’d never disclose them. So ScienceBlogs was born as a wholly owned subsidiary of Seed Media Group. Look it up: it’s based in Delaware. Here’s how we chose the initial invitees to SB: We let the intern do it. No one else had the time. It was basically just me and a tech person (whose name I’ll elide) at that point anyway. Intern made a spreadsheet including estimated traffic. We sorted by that field, invited the top 20. We also threw in some of his personal faves, lifting a handful of blogs out of obscurity. I mean, I looked at all of them, it wasn’t completely hands off. A surprising number of bloggers said no right away. I’m looking at you @BadAstronomer :)
Now we had to build the site. We bought the domain from some guy whose kids had purchased it just a few months before. I didn’t now what “DNS” meant. But suddenly I had to point some “DNS” records at a “host.” I called my friend at MIT. I chose the hosting company b/c they were located in my hometown, and occupied what used to be a mall near my house. What was the name of that hometown hosting company? Rackspace. Yeah. @BoraZ @arikia @katherinesharpe Yeah this is deep, deep history here. Pre-cambrian.
Anarchy was built into the site from day 1. No one would have signed up if we hadn’t given them free reign to say anything. This is the advantage of starting from nothing: No institutional reputation to ruin.
Eager followers gathered as Mims continued. “Psst. If you’re missing it, @mims is tweeting the super secret history of ScienceBlogs,” John Rennie—who writes a blog for PLoS, which hosts one of a newer crop of online science blogging communities—whispered about an hour into the tale.
“@mims dude can’t you put this all into a one long blog rather than tweets?” George Musser, Scientific American space and physics editor and solar blogger, asked. In response, Mims announced that he would continue in a blog post later, but quickly relented at the urging of Martin Robbins, a blogger in the Guardian’s community.
“No… keep tweeting, I’ll have it in a storify later. We’re all hooked!” he wrote to Mims and Musser, referring to a site that allows people to search for Tweets, photos, and videos, drag them into a template, add context, and construct a story. It was his first attempt at using the tool, and he posted the impressive result after Mims finished his story a while later. (“I love this. A fascinating history of Scienceblogs.com, written in tweets (by @mims) and collected via Storify,” New York University’s Jay Rosen wrote less than two hours after its posting.)
So Mims continued as before:
So when SB first launched, there were tons of rough edges. Genius thing our tech person did was set up a private chat back-channel. Bloggers used it to solve each other’s tech issues. So e.g. @razibkhan [Rhazib Khan] was instrumental in squashing bugs. Without him the site would have imploded. At the time Movable Type was the enterprise blogging platform of choice, so it’s what we used. It was like all utopias - at first everyone is full of idealism, people help each other, they’re going to change the world etc. Anyway, the most interesting part of a thing is always its birth. I’m winding down already. Mostly because the most outrageous stories about working at Seed can never be told without fear of reprisal.
“So that’s what we used,” Ed Yong—who launched his blog, Not Exactly Rocket Science, at Scienceblogs.com before moving it to Discover’s community—chimed in, noting that the bit about Movable Type made him snort Pepsi through his nose. The choice of drink was an amusing coincidence.