July 23, 2010

What I Owe Bora

You probably don't realize this, but if you're reading this blog and enjoying it, you owe a small debt to Bora Zivkovic of A Blog Around the Clock. I owe him a much bigger debt.

While Greg Laden has certainly done the most to promote this blog, and many, many others (too many to link) have played a part in that, without Bora, I would probably never have managed to talk myself into promoting it. When I started reading A Blog Around the Clock, I was still commenting on other blogs without leaving a link back to this one. What can I say? I'm Minnesotan, introverted and all too aware of the risks of social interaction.

Bora, on the other hand, has been consistently forthright on the subject. What good does writing a blog do if no one ever reads it? Not linking, not connecting people to your thoughts isn't discretion or politeness. It's stopping the conversation dead. And Bora is all about the conversation.

So now I link myself. I take part in the conversation when I have something to add. (Yes, those of you who wish I wouldn't now know who to blame.) I let people know when I'm writing on one of their pet subjects. I promote myself and my work, and I owe it to Bora.

I owe him more than that, though. I owe him for ScienceOnline.

I'm a geek. I've attended science fiction and fantasy conventions for, oh, about the last two decades. I've gone to programming, but until recently, I hadn't participated in programming.

See, while I'm a geek, I'm hardly the biggest geek in the room, no matter what room I'm in. I'm not actually an expert on any subject, at least not by comparison to the people around me. In geek culture, I'm a dilettante. So why would anyone want me to sit at the front of a room and talk?

I almost didn't go to ScienceOnline2009. I didn't think I had anything to contribute there either. I'm not a scientist. I'm not a teacher. I'm not a journalist. I'm not a science blogger. Just a geek who writes science fiction sometimes. But there ended up being too many people I wanted to meet and too many sessions I wanted to see, so I put my name on the list.

Then Bora, dear Bora, immediately drafted me for the Science in Science Fiction session, where I'd expressed the tentative thought that maybe I could contribute something. And I do mean immediately. I was so gratified that I busted my butt to put together materials to talk about. Peggy Kolm did too, although she wasn't able to make it to ScienceOnline in the end. So I moderated the session on my own.

Turns out I'm pretty good at it. Good enough that people made a point to compliment me on it (for moderating? who knew?). Good enough that I was inspired to interview for Atheists Talk radio instead of just hosting, starting with interviewing Bora, of course. Good enough to have turned it into a panelist gig at Skepchickcon. Good enough to have put together a panel for ScienceOnline2010 and to be thinking about what niche I can carve out for ScienceOnline2011. Good enough to be working on becoming enough of an expert on something (no hints until I see how it turns out) to submit a paper proposal for TAM9.

And I owe it to Bora.

There are plenty of other things I owe Bora, of course. He's been a consistent champion of conversation, even in the midst of argument. He encouraged me to be thoughtful about my blogging and what I want to accomplish with it. He's written those massive posts that bring together thoughts and subjects in new ways that make me think very hard. He introduced the blogging world to his lovely wife, Catharine, who has been very good to me indeed and whom I would have missed if I'd never managed to meet her. He's also responsible for me meeting SciCurious, for which I'm much richer in many ways. He took part in Jodi and Jason's proposal trail, which is partly responsible for their coming to Minnesota last month for CONvergence. He championed blog carnivals, through which I've come in contact with a ridiculous number of cool people.

I'm forgetting things, of course, but it's only because there is so much I owe Bora that I can't keep track of all of it at once.

As I said at the start of this post, if you enjoy my blog, you owe Bora something too. There are a few ways in which you can do something about it. You can blog or Tweet about it (use the hashtag #IOweBora). You can help connect ScienceOnline and potential sponsors in order to help the conference grow. You can also recognize the fact that most of what Bora has done, he's done with very little in the way of remuneration. Abel Pharmboy is working to rectify that, since the Zivkovic family is currently dealing with disability and underemployment. If you have a little something you can contribute, you can show him directly that you understand how much you owe him.

Because we all do.


Jason Thibeault said...

I really was hoping I'd get to meet Bora at CONvergence. Well, maybe we'll be able to attend SCIO11. If the stars align. :P

Anonymous said...

Smooches. :)

Unknown said...

Not almost. You are a diamond. xoxo

Arvind said...

Another dilettante here. There's so much I identify with in the paragraph you wrote on your hesitations. Catharine keeps insisting I should attend one of the ScienceOnline conferences. I keep insisting I have nothing to contribute. They are both super-wonderful people.

Stephanie Zvan said...

Jason, only guests of honor get their expenses covered, and there's just no slot that covers what Bora does. I do think you should come to SCIO11 if you can, though.

Arvind, you too. It's an unconference, which means one of the most valuable things you can bring is a fresh perspective. Or set of them, which is one thing dilettanting is good for.

Sci and Catharine, hugs and smooches right back.