Chopping down the Beanstalk

The history of science Giant has now descended the beanstalk seventy-one times carrying the best the Internet has to offer in history of science, technology and medicine on his shoulders, however on the sixteenth of next month he will climb down for the last time. It is with a mixture of regret and relief that I have decide to chop down the beanstalk and to end the monthly history of science blog carnival, On The Shoulders of Giants, to give it its full name.

This has not been an easy decision and I have been considering it for a long time. How long can be judged by the fact that I had intended to close it down last year with the sixtieth edition making for a nice round five years. In the end I did not do so only because the Wellcome Library Blog asked to host the sixty-first edition, an honour for the Giants’ Shoulders Blog Carnival that I felt I couldn’t turn down and so I have kept it alive for another complete year. I did this because I like clean endings and prefer to stop at the completion of a year rather that at some arbitrary point.

Some of you are probably wondering why I have decided to bring Giants’ Shoulders to an end. The editions over the last twelve months have shown that there is a large quantity of high quality history of science being produced across the Internet and the carnival certainly doesn’t lack for potential content. I can also confirm that there are enough people out there in cyberspace willing to take on the task of hosting the carnival, although I must admit that finding hosts is rather like waiting for busses in London. You search and search and nobody volunteers and then just as you are reaching the point of despair three people all volunteer at the same time. No, the problem is one of submissions. Over most of the last two years and probably longer I have personally made between ninety and ninety-five per cent of all the submissions for each edition of the carnival. Some hosts have searched out potential post themselves but there have been very few genuine submissions and on some occasions none at all! Quite a long time ago I wrote a blog post complaining about the apathy amongst history of science bloggers when it come to making submission for the blog carnival but since then the situation has not improved. If anything it has got worse. I can’t force people to submit to the carnival and so I have decided to end the sham.

Giants’ Shoulders was called into life six years ago on a bit of a whim by physicist, historian of science, skydiver and lover of truly dreadful pulp literature Greg Gbur, aka gg, aka Dr Skyskull and so I thought it would be fitting if he hosted the final edition, it being his baby so to speak. I got in touch with Greg and informed him of my intentions to end the carnival and asked him if he would host the final edition, Giants’ Shoulders #72, he said yes.

So the final Doom’s Day edition of the best history of science carnival in the known cosmos, Giants’ Shoulders #72, will be hosted by your very own Dr SkySkull at his Skulls in the Stars Blog on 16th June 2014. Submissions if there are any(!) can be made either directly to the host or to me here at RM by the 15th of the month at the latest. Let’s send Giants’ Shoulders off in style.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the people who have sacrificed time and energy to host Giants’ Shoulders and all of those historians who have supplied the contents, all of you are wonderful people and I hope you will keep on filling cyberspace with the histories of science technology and medicine for many, many years to come. Keep on keeping on!

The Giant is dead, long live Whewell’s Weekly! Although I am carrying the Giant to his grave I will not cease to collect and anthologise the best that the Internet has to offer in the way of the histories of science, technology and medicine. Following the example of Ed Yong on his Not Exactly Rocket Science Blog I will publish these as a weekly links list not here but on the Whewell’s Ghost blog, which was set up originally as a collective history of science blog, under the title Whewell’s Weekly: your seven day digest of the best in Internet history of STEM. Should you wish to make sure that your latest historical pearl of wisdom is included then you just need to contact me here at RM or on Twitter (@rmathematicus) or Facebook.


Filed under Giants' Shoulders

8 responses to “Chopping down the Beanstalk

  1. Rebekah Higgitt

    It’s sad, but I think you’ve made the right call. Blog carnivals are, I think, an artefact of early blogging and pre-Twitter days. I also think it’s brilliant that you’ll do a round up on Whewell’s Ghost. I’ll also try to revive my posting of links onto the WG Facebook page. Perhaps we could also encourage more guest posts to WG and make it a proper hub for all the brilliant histsci stuff out there.

  2. This seems sad but thank you for managing it over the years and best of luck with Whewell’s Ghost.

  3. Thank you for all of your effort and work! As someone relatively new to this game I loved reading the Giant and was very happy every time I was included. I also thoroughly enjoyed hosting. Best of luck with Whewell’s Ghost

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