What were you doing seventeen years ago, in 2006? I have a tough time recalling my own actions then, but I sure can tell you what Elio did that year. With his energy, enthusiasm, and relentless itch for writing (along with support from ASM, namely Chris Condayan) he gave birth to this blog. The fact that STC is still around and widely read after seventeen years attests to Elio's farsightedness. In recent months we took time to consider the future of the blog (metaphorically, looking at the world through the lens of a drop of morning dew, teeming microbial life, rather than a crystal ball) and decided to make a few changes. It bears noting that by "we" I mean the entire STC team: Elio, Christoph, Janie, Ray, and myself. We also decided that to accompany the changes (more on those below), we modified the blog's appearance and functionality. It is our hope, however, that the quality of the content will always remain high.
When it comes to the changes you are seeing as you read this (or might have already seen if you landed on our homepage before coming to this text), our aim was to make the reading experience more streamlined and less cluttered; we strive for minimalism. There no longer is an informational side bar, it can now be accessed through links in the header and footer. The process of revamping our website is homegrown and we all pitch in. Yet I must give very special thanks to Ray for his wonderful work with the code itself. The changes you see would never have happened without his expert help. Since this is a work in progress, we are still tweaking things. You can expect further changes to appear piecemeal in the coming months. And please forgive us if some glitches remain along the way.
We aim for readers to find it easy to interact with the content and to contact us frequently. For this we have generated a new email address: STCmicrobeblog@gmail.com (I also welcome emails sent directly to me at email@example.com). We eliminated the comments section at the bottom, but not because we do not want comments. Quite the contrary, we very much appreciate all the feedback we receive. However, most of the comments we receive come through social media platforms such as Twitter or Mastodon. We now provide links to these platforms at the end of each post to facilitate the posting of comments. Finally, we've removed the old search function, frankly, because it did not work. The best way to search STC content is to google "small things considered x" where x is the keyword or phrase you wish to search.
The means of communication have dramatically changed since the inception of this blog in 2006. Fortunately for us, Christoph has kept up with the times and has become the voice of STC on Twitter. This will continue for now and I encourage everyone to follow us through his tweets on @STCmicrobeblog. Because of the current uncertainties surrounding Twitter, he is also posting STC comments using Mastodon: @STCmicrobeblog@mstdn.science. In addition, we have started posting images on Instagram as stcmicrobeblog, so please follow us there and spread the word. Why Instagram? For nearly twenty-five years I served as Cover Editor for Journal of Bacteriology. Having stepped down from that job last year, I began to miss the selection of images germane to microbiology. For now, I'll be using this platform to display images I find beautiful. There is no way to link an image in Instagram to a post here or a publication elsewhere. But I will use the platform to direct people to further information. Along those lines, I hope people with beautiful images that they want to share to help broadcast their science, will contact me with submissions. We'll see if this new aspect of STC gathers any steam. In the meantime, it will serve as a way for me to share images that I like! This image of fruiting bodies creeping up from among leaf litter is our post today on Instagram and calls attention to the changes happening at STC.
The changes I've described thus far relate to the blog's form. Now, on to announcing two changes in substance. The first of these is the introduction of our newest Associate Blogger. We are delighted that María Mercedes (Mechas) Zambrano accepted our invitation to join the STC team. Many readers will recognize her as a long-time and frequent contributor, going back to posts from pre-pandemic times. Along with her passion and very broad interests in microbial sciences, Mechas brings with her extensive experience as editor in eLife and ASM's mBio. Please join us in welcoming Mechas!
And now... It was back in August when Elio sent Christoph, Janie, and me a short email stating: "It seems to be time to change the format of STC. How about you remove my name from the top and emeritize me below?" The first directive was clear, change the format. Fine, we started the process and here we are. The second was quite a bit harder to swallow: "...emeritize me..." What? That took a lot more discussion amongst us. Yes, Elio is transitioning to a less active role in the blog he created. No, it's not going to be easy for the rest of the team. But we know we can still rely on his sage advice as he continues to look over our activities and write occasional posts. So, it is with mixed emotions that we look at this aspect of the future of STC. On the one hand, we wish Elio the very best in this more relaxed participation in the blog. On the other, we already miss his deep involvement in the day-to-day working of the blog.
We are looking forward to your feedback – but from now on, as said above, not in our former disqus comment section, but on Mastodon or Twitter.