I have an announcement to make: I am leaving the Oikos Blog and starting my own blog, Dynamic Ecology. This was a difficult decision for me, and not one I took lightly. To understand my reasons for making this decision, you first need to know something about the history of the Oikos Blog and my involvement with it.
The Oikos Blog wasn’t my idea. The first I heard of the blog was when it was announced to the editorial board by Chris Lortie, the editor who was and remains in overall charge of the blog. The initial vision was basically that it would be a group blog: all the editors would post occasionally on whatever ecological topics interested them (here is a link to Chris’ video, introducing the Oikos Blog to the world). The hope, as I understood it, was that the blog would be a new way to promote the kinds of interesting conversations and new thinking that the journal had always tried to promote. Certainly, that was my own hope. I thought the blog was a great idea, a case of Oikos thinking outside the box and recognizing the potential of a new technology. There are lots of ideas in science that are worth sharing and discussing, but aren’t best shared or discussed via formal papers, or at least not only via formal papers. Besides being valuable in its own right, I had high hopes that the blog could help encourage its readers (especially students and postdocs) to take note of the journal’s content and support the journal as authors and reviewers.
At the time, I was reading a few blogs, but I’d never thought of blogging myself. But since the journal was starting a blog, I figured it might be fun to try it out. Plus, when colleagues ask me to do something, I try to default to saying “yes”.
So I started posting. I found that I enjoyed it, I seemed to be pretty good at it, and it didn’t take much of my time. But of course, everyone has to make their own time allocation decisions, and early on Chris and I were the only editors who chose to post with any frequency. I figured other folks might start posting once we built a bit of an audience, but that hasn’t happened. To be clear, I’m not criticizing my colleagues at all for this. Again, it’s up to each of us to choose how to allocate our time. I recognize that I’ve made an unconventional choice, and also that my circumstances (I’m a tenured professor in Canada) arguably make it unusually easy for me to allocate a bit of my time to blogging. But given the choices I and my colleagues have made, I don’t feel that the Oikos Blog is serving its original intended purpose as well as it could. Rather than functioning as an extension of the journal, I think the blog has become identified with me in the minds of many readers.
Which is something I find increasingly awkward. There are topics I would like to blog about, but which I avoid because they seem inappropriate even for a journal blog as broadly-defined as the Oikos Blog. There are also some new things I’d like to try that can’t really be tried on the Oikos Blog. I’ve also found that, in my own mind, I’ve started to think of the Oikos Blog as “mine”, which it isn’t. Over time, I’ve mostly stopped connecting my posts even tangentially to Oikos journal content, which is something I tried quite hard to do early on. And if someone at Oikos or Wiley were to (quite reasonably) suggest that the blog needs to develop some sort of tighter connection to the journal, I don’t know how I’d react. Which means it’s time for me to go.
I’m tremendously grateful to Chris Lortie, Dries Bonte, Tim Benton (our previous EiC), and other folks at Oikos and Wiley for coming up with the idea for the Oikos Blog, and for trusting me to run with it essentially as I saw fit (no one ever gave me any explicit or implicit instructions on posting, or exercised any pre- or post-publication review on my posts). I hope that I lived up to their trust. My decision to leave is entirely my own and in no way reflects badly on Chris, Dries, or anyone else at Oikos or Wiley. I’ve never had anything but positive feedback and support from everyone. Chris and Dries in particular (and Tim before Dries) have been enthusiastic about my blogging, and very understanding about my decision to move on, both of which I greatly appreciate. I continue to want to see the Oikos journal do well, and I’ll continue to support the journal.
I’ll also look forward to seeing what Chris et al. do with the Oikos Blog now that I’ve gone my own way. The Oikos Blog is not ending and you should definitely keep following it; I will. I’ve made some suggestions to my Oikos colleagues on cool new directions the Oikos blog could go, and I know Chris and other folks have their own ideas. Oikos Blog is going to change, but they’re going to be good changes. Right now, the blog and the journal are pretty independent. I think they can actually be greater than the sum of their parts, and I’m very much looking forward to watching that happen.
Finally, I hope you’ll check out my new blog, Dynamic Ecology. Initially, it’s going to be quite similar to my blogging for Oikos. Almost all of my old posts and the comments on them are archived over there. I already have some new content up, and I plan to try out what I think are some cool new ideas. Thank you very much for reading my work on Oikos Blog, I’m tremendously flattered to have such a great readership. Looking forward to seeing you over on Dynamic Ecology.