Cordial Deconstruction

Observations from our shared single objective reality in a materialistic, naturalistic, & effectively macro-deterministic universe.

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Posts Tagged ‘Orac’

Origins of My Pseudonym and My Blog’s Name

Posted by Karl Withakay on July 29, 2010

Tonight I decided to do a light and easy post on my pseudonym and blog name rather than the topic I originally planned to blog about, partly because I spent too much time playing Lego Harry Potter to have enough time to do a good job on the topic I was going to blog about.

Origins of a Pseudonym

Tonight I changed the display name for my blog ID to match the name I use pretty much everywhere else on the internet.  It’s the name I use in forums, when making comments on other people’s blogs, and elsewhere.  The name is Karl Withakay.

Until recently I never realized how many people don’t catch the play on words underlying that online name.  In fact, it seems that most people that I meet in person after “meeting” online haven’t caught it.  Perhaps that’s because they first see the name written (typed) online rather than hearing it pronounced out loud.  Once I explain it to them, they tend to say something to the effect of, “Oh, duh, I get it now.”

Apparently I’m not the first person to think up the pseudonym Karl Withakay:  This guy is not me, but apparently he came by the name through a similar process.  After years giving my first name as “Karl, with a K” to avoid any misspelling of my name, I eventually began to joke to my friends that I should change my middle name to “Withakay”.  When I first started registering to post on forums and blogs, I thus had the perfect pseudonym to use for my online persona, Karl Withakay.

Origins of a Blog’s Name

The name of this blog, Cordial Deconstruction was chosen after much deliberation and consideration of various names.  I’d been thinking of setting up a blog for a while and had always intended it to be related to critical thinking and deconstruction of  things like fallacious logic or bad science & plot lines in television shows and movies.

Before getting around to setting up my own blog, I had been commenting on various blogs like Science Based Medicine, Respectful Insolence, and Neurologica for several years, cutting my teeth on logical argument and online discourse.   I always strove to hold myself to the standard of conduct of the bloggers on those sites, keeping the discourse polite and cordial, even when completely deconstructing another commenter’s arguments.

The name I finally settled on for this blog was both a reflection of what the blog was going to be as well as a tribute to the blogs of two other people.  One is probably my favorite blog, Orac’s Respectful Insolence.  The other is the blog of my real world friend, Polite Scott of Polite Dissent.  Thus the current subtitle “(Not Polite or Respectful, just Cordial.)”


Posted in Me, This Blog | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Blog Maintenance & PepsiGate

Posted by Karl Withakay on July 22, 2010

I had intended to write an actual blog post for this week tonight, but my sister and brother-in-law were in the neighborhood and invited me to dinner, wiping out most of the evening for me.

That, the fact that I’m kind of burned out from work this week, and the need to do some blog maintenance means I don’t have time to do a “full” post tonight.

The blog maintenance I need to do is mostly updating numerous links, due to the partial collapse/implosion of ScienceBlogs .   I’ve had to edit numerous links to bloggs of bloggers who have left ScienceBlogs for greener pastures.  If you don’t already know there story, I’ll give you the outsider’s Reader’sDigest version.

ScienceBlogs is a sort of super blog collective that hosts a plethora of science themed blogs.  It has (or had) a fairly impressive stable of high quality science bloggers, including P.Z. Meyers and his Pharyngula blog, one of the biggest blogs on the internet.

Recently, ScienceBlogs shot themselves in the foot by deciding to host a blog sponsored, produced, and written by Pepsico called Food Frontiers.  The focus of Food Frontiers was to be “innovations in science, nutrition and health policy”.  The key issue was not so much hosting a corporate sponsored blog, but hosting what was essentially paid advertising on an equal footing with actual, independant blog content without clear indication that it was paid advertising.  This is analogous to the New York Times publishing an article on environmental responsibility written by BP on the front page without providing clear indication that the content was a paid promotion produced and written by a corporate entity.

This blurring erasing of the line between advertising and independent blogging would have been bad enough, had ScienceBlogs not already been on thinner ice with its bloggers than most people realized.  There had been issues with poor tech support, late payments, a quashing of column by Seed Media Group (parent company of ScienceBlogs) because it was unfriendly to a potential advertiser , etc.  You can look at the Pepsi fiasco as either the straw that broke the camel’s back, or Seed Media/ScienceBlogs crossing of the Rubicon, but either way they have lost nearly 20% of their bloggers since they debuted the now removed Pepsi blog.

There’s no doubt about it, they are hemorrhaging bloggers and are feeling some real pain.  P.Z. Meyers went on strike and issued demands for changes, and apparently those demands have been met, and ScienceBlogs is still alive, for now.  It remains to be seen whether it stay that way; they’ve lost a lot of heavy hitter bloggers, and I don’t think many of them will come back.  It seems likely they’re going to have to fill in the gaps with what are currently 2nd or 3rd tier bloggers.  P.Z. sure seems encouraged by the discussions he’s had with the Seed overlords, but I’m curious of just how confident he is that things are headed in the right direction.  Would he be willing to put his clout on the line and reassure new or returning bloggers that ScienceBlogs is the place to be, or is he, like Orac, really taking a hopeful wait and see approach?

That’s kind of the $64,000 question right now, isn’t it?  Yes, you’re staying, but right now, would you recommend blogging at ScienceBlogs to your best friend?  It’s not necessarily the perception that the party’s winding down because people are leaving.  It might be that the party’s run out of beer, someone promised a fresh keg is on the way, and although you’re sticking around, you’re talking to your best friend on the phone, trying to decide if it’s worth it for him to drop by because you’re not so sure whether that keg is really coming or not.

OK, so I just spent about 90 minutes explaining why I don’t have time to do a full post tonight and essentially wrote the same post I would have written if I had time anyway.  Now I don’t feel like going back and editing this to pull out that parts about not having time to do a full post.  🙂

Posted in PepsiGate, ScienceBlogs, This Blog | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

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