Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Accretionary Wedge?

This morning I received an email forwarded from a science editor/literary agent asking about the Accretionary Wedge, with respect to promoting a book of geological photos and descriptions. Below is my response. Names of the involved parties have been redacted with (XXXXX).
Thanks for the note, (XXXXX). I'm perfectly willing and able to "keep it going," to use your phrase, but we haven't been getting hosts, themes/ideas for AW's, nor most importantly, participants. Looking over the last couple, Tuff Cookie did a stunningly good job of fleshing out the three or four participants and linking scads of related sites and posts for "outreach." Dave Bressan only got 3 submissions for what I thought was a terrific topic in "unanswered questions." Given that this is the first time the issue of the AW's continuity has been raised (to me or at the AW site, at least) since TC's hosting nearly 3 1/2 months ago, I have to ask in all seriousness, is the geoblogosphere really all that interested?

I have considered posting about this issue at my own blog, but for reasons that make plenty of sense to me, I don't think the geoblogosphere pays much attention to it- I don't think the question would have the impact it ought to. And sounding like a broken record, "still looking for topics and hosts," at the Wedge's site was starting to become a little painful.

I have been pretty frustrated about it; I have enjoyed the AW both as a reader and a participant [and as an editor, I might add], and it pains me to see so many other carnivals in the biosciences, astronomy, physics and so on, flourish while the single geology carnival sort of withered on the vine. But I honestly didn't and don't know how to politely pressure people into actually taking the time to put together a post every month or so. Do you have any ideas?

To revive it now, for the purpose of promoting a book, seems to me somewhat distasteful. It may be a fine book or not, I don't know. But is this the face we want for the AW? What exactly would be the topic for such a post? Pretty Pictures? Most geobloggers do those posts as instinctively as breathing, and I'm not sure that would be a terribly engaging wedge.

Look, I'm willing to put quite a bit of effort into this carnival, but from the time I started, I've tried to keep a light hand on it, not make single-handed decisions, and count on the unparalleled enthusiasm of the geoblogosphere and its bloggers to provide direction. Perhaps I overestimated their enthusiasm.

I'll CC this to (XXXXX) and (XXXXX), and I'll also ask your permission to put this note up as a blog post, as is. This has been tough to write; I feel a little like I'm being asked to make the final decision for a loved one on life support. I want to emphasize that I'm willing to do whatever I can to keep the AW going, but I can't live the loved one's life. I can't be the Accretionary Wedge. Only the Geoblogosphere can. And I'm just not seeing the effort or concern there.

Sincerely and Wistfully, Lockwood
Comments and reactions? Here's The Accretionary Wedge's home page if you'd rather leave comments there... they'll end up in my email either way. I'm hoping to track down an image I used sometime last year to tack on a somewhat less dolorous tone for the end... wish me luck.

Followup: Why is it I never think of using Firefox's "find" tool until I've already spent 15 minutes scrolling? At any rate, I think we can say with some confidence that this is not the status of the Accretionary Wedge... at least at this point.
(Originally posted in Sunday Funnies, from Saturday Bulletin; I've cropped the caption)

(Cross-posted at The Accretionary Wedge)


Callan Bentley said...

Considering that I'm one of the XXXXs in the e-mail above, I'm not sure I should really be the one to get the ball rolling here, but I think it's a bummer that this thing appears to be on life support. I've got some changes in the works, and would be happy to host a new AW as a way to kick-start those changes. I've told this to Lockwood via e-mail, but I figured I should share it with the world at large, too.

Here's a question:
Does it have to be every month? Is it okay if it's sporadic, like the memes we occasionally all jump on board with?

Lockwood said...

Callan- I don't know if you've looked at the AW cross-post, but there are a number of thoughtful comments there. Some good ideas have been proposed, among them the idea of bi-monthly or occasional AW editions. Another one that seems popular is to drop the tradition of themed editions, which make people write up an extra post. Instead, participants would simply submit a link to their favorite geology or earth science-related post they've put up from the interval between AW editions. I have some minor quibbles with the latter idea, but those pale in comparison to my concern that the carnival is on life support. In fact, I think a mix of approaches to doing the AW might go a long way to reviving it... another idea I had was choosing a favorite post from a blog that isn't yours in the interval. On a daily basis, I come across geology posts that I admire and appreciate. It would be fun to give some of those a shout out in a public forum, and might have the result of drawing in some of the many geobloggers who don't participate in, or perhaps aren't even aware of, the AW.

As a result, I'm much more optimistic than I was a couple of days ago about getting this thing back on its feet. I don't know if you're subscribed to comments, so I'll e-mail this to you as well.