2012: The year we make news

posted in: Updates | 14

The last three years have been fun and exciting for us here at Biofortified. Even more so the last three weeks – as we have raised almost $2,500 in personal donations (and blog schwag purchases) to keep the blog going and expand our projects into new areas. I have thanked all of our donors personally, and taking it all together, I can’t sufficiently express in words how thankful I am that so many people have been willing to support us, and for so much. If you thought we were wildly happy back when we won the Changemakers contest in 2009, we’re so much more excited now!

We have some ambitious goals ahead of us, from art to videos, tax-exempt status and more, but there is one more thing that I think we should strive for in the coming year – making the news. We are indexed by Google News, so in that sense we are making news as we report and comment on what goes on in the world. But what I mean is making a big enough impact in the world that other news organizations start reporting on us. The more reaching out we can do, the more people may come here and exchange ideas, contribute articles, and learn about science. I know that we have a good following amongst scientists, and it would be great if we could bring more people into the discussion.

We’re also on our way to a bigger league.

At the beginning of December, I thought that we had gotten to the point where a Wikipedia article about our organization (which is more than just a blog) was appropriate, giving the bare-bones rundown on what we do. Other organizations such as the Non GMO Project and GM Watch have pages, of varying quality, why not us? I built it over a few days and it went up on December 6. A few editors helped out with improving it, and suggesting links to de-orphan the page, and everything seemed fine.

Then, right on the New Year, an editor flagged it for deletion. Over about a week, various editors chimed in on how big of a mention in different news sources was big enough of a mention for notability, and I provided what more information I could to help out. I tried to point out politely when a couple editors were not even bothering to read some of the sources, and made sure they were aware that I both created the page and am a founder of the site in question. In the end, our page was deleted, with not enough of a strong ‘keep’ vote from other editors.

I thought it was ironic that editors were arguing that I myself may be notable but Biofortified is not – even though my notability in this case stems from what I have done here on Biofortified. Kind of odd, don’t you think?

I’m not worried about the deletion, because all of my work (and other editors’ additions) has been saved, and the entire thing can go back up once we have but a few more references to meet the oft-arbitrary guidelines of notability. So here’s another incentive for us to make some news!

I would like to solicit some ideas of things that we can do this year. There is on-the-ground public outreach and events, online gatherings, and additional resources that can be put together on the site. What would you like to see?

I thought one fun thing we could do is organize a book reading of the original Frankenstein, which could involve virtual meetings over Google+ or a webinar-type site. Or should we dress up like fools and get people to sign a petition to ban genetic recombination? Serious and silly, there are many ways to get messages out there. Let us know in the comments!

Let’s make 2012 be the year we make some serious news.

Follow Karl Haro von Mogel:
Karl earned his Ph.D. in Plant Breeding and Plant Genetics at UW-Madison, with a minor in Life Science Communication. His dissertation was on both the genetics of sweet corn and plant genetics outreach. He recently moved back to his home state of California. His favorite produce might just be squash.