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“It suddenly struck me that that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the Earth. I put up my thumb and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out the planet Earth. I didn't feel like a giant. I felt very, very small.” – Neil Armstrong (1930-2012)

Fresh Reads from the Science 'o sphere!

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Evolution Of Fresh Brainz

Tagged by John, our friendly evolutionary middleman!

I have to write about how my blog has evolved since it started on 11 July 2006, and provide 5 blog entries that demonstrate the evolution.

Personally I think that Fresh Brainz (and its writer) is still floundering around trying to find a direction, so it's too early to see any clear pattern emerging.

But Brian of Laelaps would say that we are all future "transitional" fossils - the meandering process is important - so it's a good idea to track those random changes that have occurred in the past 15 months.

1. Fresh Brainz started short and sweet:

Bon appetit! I meant the strawberry, of course.

This non-sequitor of a beginning and unintended zombie reference hints at the wanton aimlessness that was to follow.

The main purpose of Fresh Brainz has always been entertainment first and education a vanishingly distant second. Inspired by the disjointed British science fluff show Brainiac and the unimitable bawdy writing style of blogger queen Xiaxue, I attempted to bring about the unholy union of science and pop culture in a blog.

The result was (and still is) utterly illegitimate.

2. Two months later, some semblance of organization emerged as the first running series was launched - stories of the second best:

In Singapore there is a well known social attitude called Kiasu (from Hokkien - Kiah Soo, Chinese - 怕输). It literally means "scared to lose", and it refers an excessively competitive attitude at the expense of basic social graces like courtesy and respect for others...

I suppose it isn't surprising that Fresh Brainz roots for the underdog - something that starts with a "F" is certainly not going to be an exemplar of excellence like things that start with an "A".

The failures, the second best, not to forget downtrodden, misguided, perverse and stark raving mad will always have a special place here.

Now you can see why the future seems so uncertain.

3. Not every serial feature that appeared persists till today. For example, the misadventures of Freddie only lasted 7 episodes:

Birth Of Freddie






Again the inspiration for this came from elsewhere - the delightfully obscure Bunny webcomic.

Freddie was intended as a regular fixture to Fresh Brainz. However despite great efforts to publicize Freddie comics, blog stats showed that he never became popular, probably because nobody really understood my insider jokes.

As a result Freddie became one of a few regular items that was completely eliminated by negative selection.

4. Due to the fact that most (over 70%) Fresh Brainz readers come from North America and Western Europe, the subject matter and language in this blog primarily cater to this international audience.

Despite my best efforts, less than six months into science blogging, readership had waned to such a sorry level that I was ready to give up. For a change I decided to focus more on Singaporean science and wrote this post:

I still remember the smell of the medicated oil and the whirring sound of the generator. The year is 1984. I was a little boy accompanying my grandmother to a mobile clinic providing traditional Chinese medical services such as Tui Na and acupuncture to the elderly...

Unexpectedly, this post would help turn the blog around, though not immediately.

Two months later, a war of words between two prominent leaders over the direction of biomedical research in Singapore would help to raise interest in this subject.

5. One of the newest regular feature here is Fresh Science daily reads:

Fresh Brainz is proud to bring you a brand new feature: Daily reads from the science 'o sphere! Science blog readers may know (and science bloggers definitely know) that good science blogs aren't easy to find.We do the hard work of scouring the globe for the meatiest science articles, so you don't have to...

Aggregating the best posts together in a convenient place clearly wasn't my idea. I learnt this format from the now defunct sociopolitical blog Intelligent Singaporean, which was a blog aggregator that also contained original articles.

Using the Fresh Science format, I can update regular readers on the juiciest news in the science'o sphere - often written by less prominent bloggers with remarkable style and content.

Heh.

Ok the real reason it exists is so that I can post regularly even when afflicted by the writer's block, or bitten by the lazy-ass bug. Man, it's impossible to fool a Fresh Brainz reader!

So now it's time to tag a hapless victim... I'm really curious about how Bayblab degenerated into the "smutty" state it's in today, so off goes the arrow!

*TWANG!*

2 Comments:

John Evo-Mid said...

That's quite an evolutionary tale in just 15 months!

But in the blogosphere, you are kind of a middle-ager! I find most of the blogs I have contact with started sometime in 2007.

I'm sort of an old-timer, having been around since 2005 but I don't really consider it valid since I did so little blogging until fairly recently.

Keep up the good work - whatever the futute destination of your blog. Personally, I'd love to hear more about your own work, but I understand your need not to let others beat you to the punch in your work.

Lim Leng Hiong said...

Hi John,

Yes, in retrospect it does appear that many things have happened along the way. You've brought up an interesting observation - I do feel that blog time seems to flow slower than real time! My older posts feel more ancient than just 15 months old.

I must say that much of the motivation to write comes from the encouragement of fellow bloggers like you. Thanks for the feedback and ideas!

As for blogging about work, I'm not so confident about that yet. Maybe a little later when I've gotten enough meaningful data and when graduation doesn't look like so much of a pipe dream.