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No one cares about your blog

by Eva Amsen

I have a T-shirt that I wear so infrequently that two blue moons came and went in between the two times I’ve worn it. It says “no one cares about your blog”.

The first time was in April 2007. At that point, I was five years into my PhD, with no end in sight. If you’re anything like me – and as it happens I am very much like me – blandness at work extends to your personal life as well. So when there was going to be a meetup of Toronto bloggers for the first time in years, I was looking forward to that bit of social interaction with perhaps a little bit too much enthusiasm. I’d seen a funny T-shirt online that I spontaneously ordered, because I thought it’d be so hilarious to wear in a group of bloggers.

The shirt, proclaiming that “no one cares about your blog” was a great icebreaker. I made a lot of new friends that evening, and even briefly dated someone, all because of the shirt. A friend took a few photos of me, including one in which I tried to look angry but ended up looking mostly insane. Soon afterward, that photo was used in a feature about T-shirts on a popular Toronto blog. Everyone’s a critic, especially on the internet, so there was one commenter who accused the site of using a “stock photo” of a “hipster girl” with “bad hair, big glasses and lame slogan [T-shirt]”.

The bit about the hair was spot on, but people jumped in to explain that I was neither a stock photo model, nor a hipster, and that my shoddy eyesight really required optometric involvement. It was so embarrassing…
theinternet.pngBy the time I found out that people were making fun of me on blogs around the world, creating Picasso-style parodies of my photo, and using the image to illustrate blog posts about internet advertising and technology presentations, I had already sworn to never wear the shirt again and go back to being more wallflowery at parties. I kept the shirt, though, because it clearly had a story, and wasn’t deserving of Goodwill abandonment.

Found on an Italian blog, underneath the original photo.

A lot happened since that blog meetup in Toronto. I started blogging on Nature Network, I finished my PhD, I organized some SciBarCamps, got paid to write about the science of a TV show, was invited to speak about blogging in Washington and New York, attended a bunch of science blogging conferences, spent a year as a freelance writer, started a side project interviewing scientist/musicians, went to Sci Foo, moved to England and started a fulltime job running a community science blog.

Maybe people cared about my blog after all?

During all of this, the shirt lay buried among moth balls at the bottom of a Rubbermaid container, unaware of what had changed in the world since it had last been worn. It barely even noticed its journey across the Atlantic. But recently, the shirt started to stir, wiggling underneath other wardrobe mementos, and yearning to be let out again.

The shirt, as you may not be surprised to learn, doesn’t care one bit about me or my blog. But it cares about the concept of blogging being blown out of proportion. It despises “blogging about blogging”*, and any occasion that confuses the medium with the message.

When a soft drink company tried to start a blog on a science blogging network, and chased away a good proportion of the resident bloggers, causing an explosion of new science blog networks, the shirt could not suppress a muffled scream. “No one cares”, it coughed from underneath a pile of old student union rep uniforms. “No one cares about your blog!”.

Unaware of the T-shirt’s cries, bloggers asked “Where should we blog?” “Which network should we join?” “‘Should we set up our own?” “What is the theme of these blogs?” “Are we diverse enough?” “Have you heard the news? It’s been all over the blogosph-”


I heard the shirt now. Still muffled, but louder. It knew that I’d registered for Science Online, where people would be talking about blogging again. About how important it was, and how it should be done, and what people thought about it, and why, and how often, and with what software, and for what audience, and who to trust and whether that mattered.

I opened the box of T-shirts. Fighting the nauseating mothball smell, I dug around, and just on top of a worn-out band T-shirt I saw a familiar shade of yellow. “No one cares… no one cares about your blog…” whimpered the shirt as I took it out from underneath a misguided attempt at screenprinting.
I tried it on and looked in the mirror. “I look horrible in yellow…” I whispered. “serac eno oN” replied mirror-shirt, and egged me on to take it to Science Online. “But what if people think I’m weird and unprofessional?” I hesitated. “No one cares!”
againphotoshirt.jpgAnd so it happened that three and a half years after its first adventure, the shirt went out in public again. I wore it on the first day of Science Online. People liked it, and saw the joke of someone telling them their blogs didn’t matter at a meeting that had entire panel discussions devoted to blogging. I got complimented on the shirt. I made new friends. My picture was taken again.

“I don’t think they’re getting it…” mused the shirt during that evening’s Fringe Frivolous event. “Look how much they’re still caring! They’re passionately debating blogging again!”
I shrugged in the shirt. “I don’t care anymore”.

The thing is – it’s just writing, isn’t it? Talking extensively about science blogging is like having intense discourses about what you can do with pen and paper. “Should we staple all our pieces of paper together, or only the ones on which we wrote about our work?” “Can I glue a picture on my piece of paper? And if so, with what kind of glue?” “I don’t think anybody saw what I wrote on my sheet of paper – how can I make it more prominent? Should I use paper with the logo of a big company on it?” “Lines or grids?”

See? That’s how the T-shirt sees blogging. Caring too much about the medium is missing the point. It’s not that no one cares about the content of your blog, they just tire of hearing about the blog an sich.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I still have to send an e-mail about sending e-mails, and call some people to talk about telephones.

*sorry, shirt – I’m aware of the irony here



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Jim Caryl September 27, 2010 - 10:50 AM

Haha! Fantastic post Eva. The message, it seems, still fits in more ways than one 😉

Heather Etchevers September 27, 2010 - 11:29 AM

Oh, Eva. That was downright wonderful. Very much in "l’air du temps" – at least, the temps over here.

So much so that you see the effect of your T-shirt’s message (which I hadn’t noticed earlier).

A better-known corollary, if less pithy, is "no one cares about your half-finished novel". There are a lot of would-be-novelist collectives, too.

Luckily, there are still plenty of bloggers (and novelists) who, despite the evident non-necessity or -noticeability of their words, still feel compelled to churn them out – and there is definitely wheat among the chaff. Some of it takes root. Blogging about scientific subjects has now become fairly mainstream – I think – and more power to those who do it. Meta-blogging bores me, too, but a good blog about a good paper is a wonderful treat.

And I’m still enjoying The Node a great deal, and your blog here, even if I’ve gone back to more of a lurker role. I just appreciate more than most how nice it is to hear from your lurkers from time to time. Please keep it up in one way or another.

Henry Gee September 27, 2010 - 11:32 AM

No-one cares about my blog, either. So that makes two of us.

I have a number of T-shirts that count as my favourites.


Another says ‘Happy Plankton’ over a bunch of smiley blobs, one of which says ‘We’re bottom of the food chain – hooray!’.

A third has a picture of Mr Incredible.

A fourth says ‘I Was A Baywatch Extra’, and if people ask if I really was a Baywatch extra (don’t laugh, this has actually happened) I say yes, I was the whale swimming past in the background.

Eva Amsen September 27, 2010 - 11:45 AM

Jim, I’m actually surprised the shirt still fit. I was on a doctor-imposed no-fat diet for months when I first bought it, and I no longer fit most of the clothes I bought that year.

Heather, I’ll keep the blog, I’m just not not very inspired lately to find anything scientific to write about, so it’s been a bit dead. And I don’t want to _feel_ like I _need_ to update because of unspoken rules like "one should blog once a day/week/hour". The point is: I shouldn’t have to do anything. (Also, have you noticed that I tend to avoid classifying the Node as a "blog"? It’s technically a blog because that was the best way to set up a site where people can all contribute to the same page, but I usually call it "community website" or "news site" or something along those lines. Which I guess is kind of my point again about the media/message.)

Henry, I 

like the description of the plankton shirt. Yay for anthropomorphic critters.

Erika Cule September 27, 2010 - 12:10 PM

Is it irony overload if I submit this to openlab?

Eva Amsen September 27, 2010 - 12:13 PM


Alejandro Correa September 27, 2010 - 12:27 PM

 You looked very bored at this conference.  Was not fun. Er…oh so sorry !.

Eva Amsen September 27, 2010 - 12:36 PM

Not bored – paying attention! (And pretending Victor wasn’t trying to take a million photos of my T-shirt)

Mike Fowler September 27, 2010 - 3:05 PM

Finally! Post-postmodernism with a point. Props to the hipster 😉

Barbara Ferreira September 27, 2010 - 3:20 PM

Eva, if your posts are as brilliant as this one, no one will care if you don’t update your blog every hour/day/week or if you are uninspired to find sciency matters to write about. Clearly, you are very inspired to write. The science bit will come later. 

Austin Elliott September 27, 2010 - 4:07 PM

Great stuff – glad to see the muse has returned, Eva. Obviously that shirt is a bit like a superhero’s costume…!

Know what you mean about "blogging about blogging". Like others, I suspect, I generally try to keep my navel-gazing off the blogs and in private email exchanges, or at least only in comments. Though there is the odd lapse too.

But anyway, "meta-blogging" is fine (IMHO) if it is as astute and funny as this.

Nicolau Werneck September 27, 2010 - 4:11 PM

The medium is the message!

Science blogging is like teenage sex. Everybody talks about doing it, but really just talk.

Åsa Karlström September 27, 2010 - 10:49 PM

🙂 _navelgazing_ is a sport. Right?!

Eva> it was very funny to read. Although, I wonder… did you let the shirt be on a hanger now? Or did it go back in the bottom of the plastic container????

Martin Fenner September 27, 2010 - 11:25 PM

That was funny. Next time I see that T-shirt I will give it the attention it deserves.

Kausik Datta September 28, 2010 - 6:52 PM

Eva, above:

Not bored – paying attention! (And pretending Victor wasn’t trying to take a million photos of my T-shirt)

Yeah, right. Of the T-shirt. [snicker!] 😀

But seriously, I loved your paired posts, Eva. You built up the right momentum in your first installment, and wrapped it up nicely in the second one. Bravo!

P.S. Apologies to said Victor and, of course, Eva. No offence intended.

Plat Stick September 29, 2010 - 2:38 AM

Most probably!!

Cath Ennis September 30, 2010 - 12:00 AM

Very nice post, Eva! I shall try to remember it next time I’m tempted to engage in MEta-blogging.

Bronwen Dekker September 30, 2010 - 3:52 PM

Laughed and laughed while reading you post!

Very good indeed. Especially: "Talking extensively about science blogging is like having intense discourses about what you can do with pen and paper."




Bob O'Hara October 1, 2010 - 2:08 PM

Sorry, I  don’t care about this post. Don’t care at all.

Alyssa Gilbert October 1, 2010 - 7:47 PM

Absolutely fantastic!

Eva Amsen October 3, 2010 - 2:46 PM

I realized today that the whole thing reminds me of LiveJournal. If you’ve spent some time there in the early half of the decade, you’ll agree. If you haven’t, you haven’t really _lived_.

No, wait, I’m mixing it up now: If you had no life you were on LiveJournal – that was it.

Mark Hahnel October 6, 2010 - 4:48 PM

Haha, I didnt realise that was you. I did notice the t shirt though, loved it.

Bart Penders October 7, 2010 - 3:54 PM

Now if only all people stopped publishing about the future of scientific publishing… oops

Richard Wintle October 10, 2010 - 2:26 AM

Eva, this might be the best blog post I’ve ever read, bar none.


How’s *that* for irony?


Also, it’s harder to care about your blog since it’s behind NN’s draconian sign-in procedure… you do realize that don’t you?


I’ll get my coat now.

Eva Amsen October 10, 2010 - 1:47 PM

It’s not really about *my* blog, though, but everyone’s, in general. It’s really not supposed to be the kind of big deal that it seems. It’s just a type of website, a content management system, a style of writing. Photo albums, ftp services and online marketplaces get significantly less drama around it. Blogs are like those. Just things, online. Mine as well as others.

Comments are closed.