I felt a little foolish last week, requesting money from my readers -- a bit like Oral Roberts telling his flock that God would "call me home" unless I raised $8 million. Well, I managed to raise a couple hundred, and I thank everybody who pitched in. It was at least a show of hands from those who really do value the service I provide.
I had no idea that I was wandering naively into a kind of snake pit. For a "blogger," I really don't pay all that much attention to the "blogosphere" So, I did not know that I would take a few hits from the blog mob for "holding out the tip jar." To me, as a writer who's been doing this for a while, it made sense to see whether anybody wanted to pay me for my writing.
I'll say just a few words about all that, and then I'll get back to providing as much free nanotech coverage as I can.
What may set me apart from other bloggers is that this is not a hobby for me. I was a journalist before blogs existed, I'll be one after they morph into something else entirely. I also write for other publications and do consulting work for real money. But the blog is something that I put some extra time into because I believe in it as a vital part of this worldwide nanotech discussion. As I've written before, nanotech "news" is not your traditional "top-down" process. The discussion, itself, is just as important.
Unfortunately, the tradeoff is the more time I spend on the blog, the less time I have to write for money. And this has reached crisis proportions. So, again, my question to my readers is whether the blog is worth keeping alive. To help you make this determination, I'll give you a little hint of what I've been working on behind the scenes -- to the point of near exhaustion.
My goal for NanoBot is to move beyond just one guy and one blog. I'm looking to make this into a worldwide discussion. My dream is to, once again, be a news editor for a team of worldwide correspondents covering nanotech, and prompt an even larger number of professionals, policymakers and interested observers to join the conversation.
Many people have advised that I should launch my own premium newsletter. I'm certainly capable of doing that, and I have had plans in the works for newsletters focusing on nanotech as it relates to the environment, medicine, culture, defense and other issues that I write about on these pages. But to launch them now would make me just another guy launching a premium nanotech newsletter. It's not what I do. What I would need to do first is create these communities of interest, building on what I've created here during the past couple of years.
NanoMedicine, NanoEnvironment, NanoEthics, NanoEngineering, NanoCulture, NanoDefense, the whole mish-mash that you see over here, could each branch into separate NanoBot-affiliated sites, discussions, bulletin boards, matchmaking services, search engines, open-source networks, job sites, whatever the community itself would demand. What I bring is the ability to get discussions going, a worldwide audience and a reputation as the top journalist covering nanotech. Instead of lots of niche nanotech publications struggling to be noticed, just look for that NanoBot label and you'll come to expect a certain kind of community and coverage -- one that leaves everybody free to exchange ideas because it does not exist to hype anything or dismiss anything. Just keep all blows above the belt and please don't libel anybody.
I picture a front-end journalism presence through a combination of traditional news coverage and expert bloggers and journalists in key areas within those fields. I would especially like to see NanoBot-affiliated bloggers in the new university nanotech centers and degree programs being launched all over the world. On the back end would be, perhaps, some physical publications or premium newsletters depending on what the readers are demanding and what I believe advertisers could support.
To me, it doesn't matter if you're a Drexlerian or Rastafarian, if you want to plug into a worldwide nanotech education/information network that is not owned by any government or business interest, the NanoBot family will be the place to go.
That's the dream ... at least, part of it.
Do you want to see this happen? Please consider donating through the button below. Perhaps even more importantly, do you have a skill you can donate? I've got the journalism part down and could gather together a team of the world's best nanotech writers who are all eagerly awaiting my next move. I'd love some help from experts in Web hosting and design, ad sales, subscription services, marketing and PR, and anything else it would take to move this experiment from a blog to a business.
NanoBot needs you.