By Brendan Moyle 05/07/2018

It is the tenth anniversary of the Science Media Centre. That also means I have been blogging here since 2009.

This was not the first blogging platform I used. I originally started in the Opera blog community. Opera shutdown their blog service in March 2014 as what was supposed to be a support community for their browser users took on a life of its own as a fully-fledged blogging service. It became too unwieldy and expensive to maintain. At that time I was posting nearly every day. To be fair, often that was a photo or 3 with brief comments.

The evolution of blogging

In evolutionary terms, blogging once occupied a large landscape. I used it socially, to promote science and conservation, and like many, to indulge my non-academic interests. In my case that was photography. Over the last decade that has changed. Other social media has grown to take over the social niche. Many hobbies have found their own specialised forums. Now photographers are more likely to be posting to Instagram or Flickr or the like, rather than use their own blogs. My Instagram account is nznaturephotos by the way…

Blogging occupies a narrower nice than before. I’m more inclined to stick to environmental and conservation issues, especially of local topics. As the landscape changed, I’ve had to change with it. Hence there are more posts on cycling or government policies than before.

What I do like about Sciblogs NZ, is that it does group together a bunch of people of similar interests and there’s usually something I am interested in enough to read, every day.

The Predators

In an expanding landscape, with several evolutionary fronts, predators soon emerged. Some of these are familiar to us all. Trolls are one such creature. With their sole mission of trying to upset, distract or hijack conversations, they can take a more sinister turn. The case of David Markuze is one instance of this, who harassed popular science blogger PZ Meyers for years. David eventually was arrested, given a probationary sentence and mandatory psychiatry treatment.

We have to operate far more warily as a result. Personal information is carefully fenced off. Anything that might identify spouses or children. Contact information is restricted. The old days of happily including a link to your private or work email has long gone.

In my case, I ended up with one of the worst kinds of predators. This was the stalker. She’s still out there by the way, trying to make contact from time to time. Mental illness- which is the main driver here- does not have an expiry date. At its peak (2011-14) it was pretty tough to go through. The salient lessons are while women are the most common targets of stalking, men are not immune. Further, this isn’t some love-sick or infatuated woman. This is a sinister, if mentally ill, person trying to control you by all means possible. Nothing is out of bounds. I have a large, thick police file on her. It has some horrible stuff in it. The Police don’t take complaints if people are mean to you on the web, or want to have sex with you. It takes some pretty nasty threats.

Back to the science

So I have to apply more prudent self-regulations now. I don’t describe a lot of the stuff I do on the illegal wildlife trade now. It is actually pretty interesting, but it really covers a lot of things that can’t be put into the public domain.  It does make it also challenging to post as often as I once did. Nonetheless, Sciblogs occupies a space that is well suited for talking about science in this region. There are going to be some major conservation challenges moving forward. And this is why I will, and like to, talk about many of them.