ccdantas on blogging


As if I
didnt yet have enough doubts about whether to continue this blog or not,
one of the few people who (imo) did a truly magnificent job decided to
stop her blogging activities right after celebrating her first
blog-anniversary. Christine C. Dantas
maintained Christine’s
Background Independence
, a blog dedicated to quantum gravity, and
motivated her decision to stop as follows :

Hello all.
Here are the facts,
before too much speculation runs wild…
Yes, the blog
is “dead”. The main reason is that I do not have the right
temperament to be in the middle of so much polemics. Yes, I had fun with
the blog and got a lot from it. But lately, although I wanted to make it
seem that everything was all right in its first year anniversary, things
were not that good, at least, not to me.
First, a major
Brazilian journal posted (for the first time here in Brazil) a large
article (with front page) about the current polemics in string theory.
Some weeks earlier, a journalist (the author of the article) contacted
me asking me to help him on the jargon and to correct possible mistakes
and misunderstandings. The article is a review on Smolin’s new
book and also contains an interview with him. I have made some
corrections (as well as another Brazilian physicist working with strings
did, as I came to learn afterwards). The published article, however,
includes a part that was not in the original draft sent for me to
review. It indicates that there are hot discussions over blogs and cites
(including the corresponding links) the blogs of a physics Harvard
professor (you know well who) and my blog, and makes it appear we are
both fighting each other over the web uneducatelly.
Second,
Bert Schroer wrote a paper specially for the the blog anniversary.
Although I felt that some parts were too harsh and unfortunate, I still
believed that it would be interesting to make it available, since there
was also a scientific content that could be of value. In fact, I was
interested to read the constructive comments of readers in these
specific scientific parts. However, after posting it over at my blog, I
soon realized it was too polemic and was already causing a strong
reaction, specially from people I have high consideration, like Bee, and
she was right on what she wrote. Although it was clear that
Schroer’s post was not mine and that I did not necessarily agree
with his points of view, I felt embarrassed and sad. (You see, I do not
have the right temperament for “living in the
blogosphere”…)
These recent past occurences,
plus several other during the past year of its existence, and other
internal pressures, made me realize I was not willing to go on with the
blog, although I understand that it was useful and interesting not only
for me but also for some of you out there.
I’ve made
a (partial) copy of the blog and deleted it from the server. I do not
wish the whole content to be available anymore, so I left no major
traces. I just left Oriti’s contribution because I wanted to do so
and felt it was a right thing to do.
All things come to an
end, so now it seemed to be a good time.
I am a quiet
person, and wish to go back to my quiet life, to my quiet readings and
studies.
Thank you, I’ll continue visiting PF, I
enjoy greatly this place.
Best
wishes, Christine

In fact, the whole
thread at PF
is pretty interesting reading, as is the parallel
comment section at Not Even
Wrong
. Trying to maintain a non-anonymous blog makes you
much more vulnerable than you want. It is always easy to criticize (and
even laugh at) people who express their opinion, thoughts and trivia.
Keeping your mouth shut and your ideas to yourself is generally
considered a much better career move. So, why should one
continue with a science blog? Perhaps the ultimate reason is contained
in Christine’s follow-up comment

I have
created the blog and I have destroyed it. It was just a blog. It was
useful, nice, interesting? Good, I am happy I did something
useful in this life!
Now it’s gone, like many things in
life I suppose…
All the
best, Christine

That’s what it all
should be about, trying to make a positive contribution somehow, even
when you sometimes feel like being the court jester, entertaining the
voyeuristic (and gossipy) masses at maths and physics departments all
around the world…

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