Back from the dead, hopefully for real this time

I’m trying to claw my way back from a long period of inactivity. In late 2009, experiments and other work prevented me from devoting time to this project, and even after some of those obligations lightened, I was finding it difficult to get back in the saddle. My last moment of inspiration turned out to be a false alarm, and rumors of my resurrection had been greatly exaggerated. Most of the posts in the final quarter of last year were made by one of our other writers (turritopsis’ excellent coverage of the SENS4 conference).

There are a number of forces conspiring against my blogging actively. Most have to do with tradeoffs: I have a limited amount of time (less than I used to, now that I’m commuting from Oakland to Novato every day) and energy, and – especially given how long I’ve been a postdoc – it’s hard to justify spending time on a project that doesn’t create new data. Also I have some ambivalence about the value of blogging as a filter for the literature.

But I’ve decided that this is important to me, for a variety of reasons, both selfish and other-centered. I like the way that Ouroboros helps me keep on top of the literature – even if I’m deciding not to write about an article, I’m thinking about it – and I’ve been missing that. I also liked the small but growing sense that I was doing something that other people enjoyed, and that benefited the field as a whole. On the careerist side: Knowing the field helps me choose the best experiments to do in my own work. Beyond that, as my generation gradually takes over the reigns of academic science, more and more people will appreciate the value of activities like blogging – so hopefully there will be no ultimate career tradeoff between time spent blogging and time spent on research activities.

So as of tomorrow, I’ll be back, in some form. I’ve decided to give the project a certain amount of time every day, and get done what I can in that time, and not worry so much about the absolute amount of writing I get done. Hopefully those of you who are interested will have something new to read (almost) every day.

Baby steps back into active blogging, then. Which is not to say that I don’t have ambitions. Over the next month or so, I plan on moving Ouroboros off of to another server – I’ll still use the WordPress software, but I want to have more control over the site’s structure and content. Also I want to open the door to monetizing the site in some way (probably not through ads, but possibly using a donation-based system like Kachingle, whenever that opens up); one of the things that takes me away from blogging is my consulting work, and it would be easier to rationalize spending more time on the blog if I weren’t paying as much of an opportunity cost when I spent time working on it.

Wow. TMI, probably. I’d better go read a paper. See you tomorrow.


  1. Hey Chris,
    So glad to see that are making a commitment to returning. Personally I always found your blog posts very inspiring and my own blogging has slowed down without your posts and following conversation. In summary, I for one am very glad to hear you are coming back.

    I know it is a controversial issue in blogging, but have you ever considered monetizing with ads to give yourself a little monetary incentive? 😉

    Hope all is well, and I look forward to some great posts!

  2. Thanks for the kind words, Paul. Good to know someone is reading. I always liked your stuff too so hopefully there will be some synergistic effect 🙂

    In response to your question about ads: On there’s no way to do that, since ads are against the rules here. On my own server, I could host ads.

    I’m going to look into ads, but I’m nervous about it – I feel like there’s a potential problem with people confusing advertising for advocacy. In the end it will come down to how much control I have over who advertises: if I can make sure that I can exclude snake oil salesmen and nostrum pushers, I’ll be more likely to do it.

  3. Welcome back. As an interested observer to the field (I am a clinical Psychiatrist, not involved in any research) I read your blog regularly and plan to resume.
    As an aside, I decided not to accept ads on my blog, probably not very smart financially but most ads didn’t feel appropriate for the kinds of things I write about. It is very likely that any ad service you might use would soon include (maybe predominate) with ads for “age reversing” nostrums.

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