Thursday, June 01, 2006

New York City trip - Part III: SEED


Thursday, May 25th.

Afternoon

After enjoying Bryant Park for a while, taking pictures, and exchanging presents (actually, receiving presents, including chocolate bananas) it was time to move on. We hailed a cab again and went to the headquarters of the SEED Media group, my new employer-of-sorts. There we met Katherine Sharpe, Christopher Mims and the rest of the Seed (hardcopy) and Scienceblogs (online) gang. Katherine showed us around, completely unfettered by six of us, including kids, running around the joint while they were trying to get some work done. I got a sneak peak at the new front-page design - I swore to keep mum about it, but you'll all get to see it on Friday.

I was actually quite impressed with the SEED offices. I really expected to see a shoestring operation, with half a dozen youngsters crowded in a little room filled with empty pizza boxes. It is actually a much bigger and more polished venture with more room and more employees than I expected. Looks very respectable. Gave me more confidence before my move to SB.

My brother attended a recent conference on art and the biology of the mind and perhaps he can get SEED to publish an article of his on the way the modern neuroscience, particulalrly brain imaging, is still incapable of telling anything of importance to the artists.

I think it was a great idea to go and visit the SEED office, for a number of reasons. First, I could say that the trip was part business, part pleasure. Second, and much more importantly, it is really nice to put names and faces together. Now I know that those people are not robots but real human beings. If, in the future, there is a technical problem, instead of firing off an e-mail like "Tim, goddammit! Fix it ASAP!", I will be much more likely to write "Tim, could you fix this glitch when you have time, please". It will make me more disposed to be understanding when they have a problem instead of viewing them as a faceless "corporation".

Likewise, I hope it works the other direction, too. If I e-mail a suggestion or a criticism, I hope they do not think of me as some troll, but a nice guy who they have met and whose opinion they will take seriously. I hope that works for every blogger there. After all, they will now have about 40 of the best and most experienced science bloggers in the Universe at their disposal (and more to come in the future). That is huge experience and brain power, all in one place. I hope they tap into this collective wisdom and trust our opinions. Being bloggers we are, almost by definition, the early adopters of new communication methods. We are also the "influentials" and have experience with what may or may not work in the online world. We are all in this together and bloggers have as much interest in seeing SEED succeed as the staff actually working in the office every day, so I hope they use us a lot - we do this practically for free. If they think of us as Consultants, they'll realize how much money they are saving by not needing Real World consultants, and at the same time we will help them avoid some of the likely beginners' mistakes in this blogging business.

Moving on, we went to a couple of cool bookstores and bought a bunch of books for kids, then just wandered around for a while enjoying each other's company, before parting briefly - they had to do some clothes shopping and we had to go and check into our hotel. It is at this point that I realized that I have lost a piece of paper with Grrrlscientist's phone number - darn! I so wanted to meet her. I guess it was not meant to be this time around.

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